On Wednesday night, Megyn Kelly, perhaps the best host on the air today at adapting and responding to new information, did a double-take when Fox News White House correspondent Ed Henry told her that President Obama would be traveling to Rhode Island on Friday for a Democratic Party fundraiser.
Having been so informed, she then made those plans the first topic of discussion with each of her next two guests: Marc Thiessen of the American Enterprise Institute and Democratic Pary strategist Penny Lee. Along the way, it because obvious that White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest's claim that the administration has "a comprehensive strategy" for dealing with ISIS is a load of rubbish. Video and transcribed highlights follow the jump (HT Fox News Insider via The Blaze and Mediaite):
Transcribed hightlights (bolds are mine; quoted italics indicate speakers' points of emphasis):
(at 0:28) ED HENRY: What is the strategy, for the President to say, "We're going to root out the cancer"? That's more of a slogan than a strategy, isn't it?
JOSH EARNEST: Well I, uh —
HENRY: What's that mean, "Root out he cancer." How?
EARNEST: Well, I think that, you know, as I mentioned in answer to Roger's question that the President has laid out a comprehensive strategy for dealing with the threat posed by ISIL.
... (at 1:04) HENRY: The other thing we should point out is that on Friday, he's going to take a timeout from these deliberations. The White House says he's going to Rhode Island for Democratic fundraising.
MEGYN KELLY: What?
HENRY: Fundraising on Friday, uh, and uh, with House Democrats. And so, the optics he got beat up on over playing golf during vacation, they went back and forth on that. Clearly, he doesn't care about the criticism. He's going to be fundraising on Friday.
KELLY: Ed thank you. Joining me now to react, Mark Thiessen, a former presidential speechwriter and fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.
Really? He's going to take a timeout from all the work he's been doing in the vineyard to go do some fundraising while we consider whether we need to bomb Syria and perhaps put boots on the ground?
MARC THIESSEN: Well maybe if it was a golf fundraiser that would complete the circle for him. I mean, it's just absurd. Look, what Josh Earnest said on that podium is just a complete fabrication. The idea that he has a comprehensive plan to defeat ISIS? Just a week ago, Pres. Obama was saying that it's not his responsibility to defeat ISIS. ...
... (at 2:05) A week ago, it was their problem. Now we've got a comprehensive strategy to deal with it. I don't know where these people come up with this stuff.
KELLY: he has also said, however, that Isys is just claiming that they are at war with the United States, and that in fact this is just a regional problem, and it should be a coalition of the willing who deals with it.
THIESSEN: Yeah, you know, a couple of things. One, that it's a regional problem and they're not really interested in hitting us? That's what they said about Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in 2009, before they sent the underwear bomber to blow up a plane over Detroit. And that wasn't a stopped terrorist attack, it was A failed terrorist attack. The bomb malfunctioned. And then, as far as not being at war with them? They have said they are at war with us. The leader of ISIS has said, "My message to the Americans is, we are going to be in direct confrontation. The sons of Islam have prepared for this day." So I don't know how he could be any clearer than that.
In the 1990s in the Clinton administration, Al Qaeda declared war on the United States. We ignored it, and the result was 911. And it looks like history is repeating itself. ...
... (at 3:36) I hope he (Obama) does something, because you cannot deal with this ISIS threat unless you take out their command-and-control in Syria. But —
KELLY: And that was said by General Martin Dempsey, that's Marc Thiessen, that's the President's own Joint Chiefs of Staff.
... (at 3:49) KELLY: Also with me tonight, Penny Lee, a Democratic strategist and former adviser to Senator Harry Reid.
... LEE (after Kelly swatted down attempts at excuse-making) You're right, that the optics aren't good.
KELLY (talking over Lee): It's not just the optics! It's the actual behavior! Get back and start governing! Americans could die. They could die in executing the strikes if they're not effective. They could die back here in an attack on the homeland or our interests elsewhere. What's he doing?
Building on the point I made earlier, Kelly spent an entire six minutes of her show on something which hadn't been anticipated, and carried it off expertly, asking questions and making points the vast majority of hosts — even on the "conservative" side — would have partially or fully failed to note.
Additionally, this afternoon, President Obama effectively called Josh Earnest a liar and vindicated Marc Thiessen when he said that “We don’t have a strategy yet.”
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.