Martin Bashir | November 21, 2012
>> we start on a very important day that the world can be thankful for. a cease-fire in the middle east . secretary of state hillary clinton is heading home now after she and her egyptian counterpart announced the deal to end hostilities and greater cooperation between israel and gaza in the near future .
>> the united states welcomes the agreement today for a cease-fire in gaza, for it to hold, the rocket attacks must end. a broader calm returned. the people of this region deserve the chance to live free from fear and violence and today's agreement is a step in the right direction that we should build on.
>> this news comes after more than a week of violence that claimed 140 palestinian and 5 israeli lives. obviously, this day belongs to the israelis and palestinians. but americans should also look at today as proof that we got it right on election day . i want you to take a look at that scene again. that moment lasted just a few minutes. but it represents a week of slow, deliberate diplomacy by the president, secretary clinton and obama's foreign policy team. and a lot of patience. there was no sabre rattling, no caustic words, no cheap shots. for that you needed to turn to the republicans .
>> if this god forbid conflict escalates, again, it is a sign of american weakness throughout the region. before in crises henry kissinger or jim baker was there, somebody was there brokering the process and bringing about a halt to it. now the president makes phone calls from burma?
>> really, senator? phone calls from burma? because here's what the israeli prime minister 's office tweeted after one of those phone calls . prime minister netanyahu spoke with president obama and accepted his recommendation to give the egyptian proposal for a cease-fire a chance. that's right. the phone call , mocked by the senator, likely helped to end the blood shed in the middle east . the only other thing republicans could do was issue a statement. now, did they thank hillary clinton for what may be her swan song as secretary of state? no. did they acknowledge president obama 's leadership? no. no mention whatsoever. however, they did manage to thank just about everyone else. that's right. senator mccain took the opportunity on this historic day to once again attack the obama administration. so much for the spirit of thanksgiving. joining us now from washington, democratic congresswoman donna edwards of maryland. thank you for joining us.
>> thank you. it's good to be with you.
>> i want to talk about the president's foreign policy in a moment. in was a very big day for secretary clinton . high stakes when she made -- they made the decision to send her there. she's been able to help facilitate this historic announcement.
>> comprehensive piece for all the people of the region. now we have to focus --
>> congresswoman, so this -- let's talk a little about what this day means for the secretary as she potentially looks at a run in 2016 but potentially is looking at the end of her time at the state department .
>> well, i think today actually highlighted exactly why hillary clinton is a leader. i mean, the secretary of state did what she needed to do. she went in there. she brokered the conversations that had -- were the groundwork that had been laid by the president and did it in a very deliberative and thoughtful manner which is the way she's conducted herself and our foreign policy over the last four years. it was a proud moment, too. we didn't quite know what to expect from president morsi, but he -- and she was able to give him credit for that, which i think was very important along with prime minister netanyahu. and i think it actually made the difference between having a cease-fire, even though it is tenuous to be the groundwork for future talks.
>> you know, congresswoman, so it did make the difference but then why is it that you think senators john mccain and lindsey graham cannot seem to give the president even the smallest bit of credit when, you know, this is his foreign policy , this is what he talked about in terms of diplomacy over sabre rattling, and it's working?
>> unfortunately, senator mccain and senator graham remind me of the kids on the playground and they need to be put in time-out. what we know is that it was important, actually, for the president and for secretary clinton to are the space they needed without all the commentary from u.s. elected officials to conduct what was a really important and catalytic diplomatic moment.
>> you know, talking about having the space to actually do their jobs, republicans have been hammering the president over benghazi . frankly, they started it almost immediately after those attacks. lindsey graham today sent the president a five-page letter with a list of questions on it. here's just one example. he says, can you please account, as you did during the raid on osama bin laden 's compound in pakistan, for your actions during the seven-plus hours our consulate was under attack? now, i have never heard anything so obnoxious. this is a senator asking the president of the united states to account for his whereabouts?
>> well, i have to tell you, i mean, what's really disturbing is that i've always had a problem with various members of the house of representatives and senators conducting foreign policy . it's the purview of the president and secretary of state and administration to conduct our foreign policy . obviously, we have to provide oversight for that but this doesn't have anything to do with oversight. you know, it's continuing what was really a loss in the election. and they just can't get over it. as a result, they continue these kind of nefarious attacks on the president, asking for accountability when the president doesn't need to answer to them but answer to the american people .
>> well, time and again it seems this idea that they just don't seem to get it. they lost. americans voted for this president. again, his strategy seems to be working. the other thing i find troubling that i want to ask you about is we do know that they did have access to some of the same intelligence. we do know, for example, congressman darrell issa and jason chav its, there was intelligence suggesting a covert operation . so there were legitimate reasons and here we are arguing about talking points rather than talking about the security situation there in libya.
>> look, i think there are legitimate questions that need to be asked and answered in the right venue. but what has happened, particularly with benghazi , is rather than getting to the heart of the matter , these republicans have tended to try to politicize it. they did it in the waning days before the election. and that continues. the president and the secretary of state, i think, have to have the ability to conduct our foreign policy , use the intelligence we have, without that being broadcast across the evening news.
>> you know, i want to just shift gears a little on this issue because, you know, again we're getting into an argument about talking points . but the person who is really taking the heat for that is our u.n. ambassador susan rice . you know, obviously there's been a lot of criticism of her. i think there's been a lot of attempts to make it clear she did exactly what anybody in her position would have done, with those talking points , given the situation we were in on that sunday when she went on the sunday shows. you know, some of the members of the congressional black caucus have raised the question, you know, would republicans be -- using a different tone if the ambassador -- the u.n. ambassador was white? here was senator graham's response. i want to play that and then let's talk about it.
>> guys like you are being criticized by, for instance, members much the congressional black caucus , they say that you and john mccain are sexist and racists as well for criticizing ambassador rice.
>> well, when you can't answer the question, you attack the questioner. the only color i'm worried about when it comes to benghazi is red, blood red .
>> you know, congresswoman, i'll tell you what strikes me is i'm a little cautious about getting into this territory in terms of, you know, citing race as part -- it may play into it, but it strikes me that the republicans are not thinking about the fact that they have just lost an election, largely based on the women's vote, african- americans and young people . here you have a ridiculously qualified woman. she is a ph.d. a rhodes scholar , they're questioning her competence, her intelligence, over a set of talking points . it does seem to be racial. there seems to be racial undertones in the criticism we're hearing. do you agree with that if.
>> i don't know. what i can say is that these set of republicans have been determined to try to forestall whatever the president's decision is about who he's going to nominate for secretary of state. but that's bet their pattern, their modis of operating over the course of this administration. the administration puts up a name and a certain set of republicans for whatever reason get in the way of it. so, i think this continues that. i will say, though, some of the language that's been used about ambassador rice, describing her as incompetent, as not smart, i mean, it's actually really offensive. it's offensive, frankly, as a woman because we all know that she comes to the job of ambassador of the united nations highly qualified, rhodes scholar , a diplomat, very well respected all across the world. and if the president chooses to nominate her, then the senate has the obligation, i think, to ask the questions they need, but to affirm that and confirm that nomination. but it's his choice, not theirs.
>> i completely agree. i think it also plays into the narrative they just won't give this president the respect he is due as president of the united states and the decisions that he's making. congresswoman donna edwards , thank you very much for joining us. have a happy thanksgiving.