Israel Joins Former U.S. Friends and Allies Under Obama’s Bus
Will anyone be surprised if America’s friends and allies around the world begin to question the dependability of commitments made by the United States government?
Mubarak’s Egypt was America’s best and strongest Arab ally in the Middle East. When push came to shove, Obama shoved Mubarak out the door…
Great Britain has historically been the beset friend and supporter of the U.S. in Europe. Immediately after the elections, Obama lost no time in thoroughly humiliating the people and leaders of England, as has been well documented. The U.S. president’s latest kick in the teeth for England was the betrayal of the UK’s secrets regarding their nuclear weapons to Putin and the Russians…all in return for their signature on the questionable, to say the least, SMART treaty…
And now…Israel…The handwriting has been on the wall since the American elections. Obama’s behavior towards Israeli PM Netanyahu in Washington, VP Biden’s behavior while in Israel, the U.S.’s adoption of palestinian positions unequalled in history, leading to the ultimate breakdown of any efforts towards peace, Washington’s behavior towards Israel’s nuclear ambiguity…the list goes on and on…
Obama’s failure to sternly warn any incoming Egyptian leaders about the sanctity and inviolability of the treaty with Israel is inexcusable, not to mention EXTREMELY DANGEROUS for the peace and security of the Middle East, indeed, of the entire world…
“Please move to the back of the bus, so there will be plenty of room for more of you, my friends and allies…”
Pres. Obama declines to mention peace in
comments on resignation of Egyptian President Mubarak
Reprinted from IMRA.org.il…Dr. Aaron Lerner
#1. When Angela Merkel of Germany prepared a short two paragraph comment on
developments in Egypt she saw fit to include in it “We also expect future
Egyptian governments to pursue peace in the Middle East so that the
contracts were signed with Israel, are respected and that Israel’s security
#2. When U.S. President Obama prepared a 17 paragraph long address on
developments in Egypt he declined to make any reference to peace and Israel.
#3. This failure to mention peace in these remarks was consistent with Mr.
Obama’s previous public remarks relating to Egypt prior to the resignation.
#4. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, in his last press conference
before leaving the post, also only finally go around to mentioning peace in
response to reporters.
The very unfortunate message from Mr. Obama to the Egyptians in particular
and the Arab world in general is that as far as he is concerned, Egypt
honoring peace with Israel is at best of tertiary importance in his eyes.
#1. Angela Merkel
Transcript of Press Conference Press Statement by Federal Chancellor Angela
Merkel on the situation in ÄgyptenFr, 11.02.2011in Berlin
ANGELA MERKEL: Ladies and gentlemen, today is a day of great joy. We are all
witness a historic change, and I am pleased with the people in Egypt, with
the millions of people on the streets. In their eyes you can see which power
can have the freedom. And I wish the people on the way forward in a new,
changed society the courage they have shown in previous days. I wish first
of all a society that will be without corruption, without censorship,
without arrest and torture. And I ask of those who now bear the
responsibility and who they are that they make the irreversible development
in Egypt that they make this development peacefully. The legitimate demands
of the people that have been expressed in recent days, must be implemented
with real power.
Ladies and gentlemen, we will support the development in Germany in Egypt,
the legitimate aspirations of people for our forces. We believe that it is
necessary that this development is truly irreversible, and that it leads to
a freer Egypt. At the end of this development must be free elections.
President Mubarak has proved with his resignation today to the Egyptian
people one last time. We also expect future Egyptian governments to pursue
peace in the Middle East so that the contracts were signed with Israel, are
respected and that Israel’s security is guaranteed.
#2 President Obama
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release February 11, 2011 Remarks by the President on Egypt
3:06 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon, everybody. There are very few moments
in our lives where we have the privilege to witness history taking place.
This is one of those moments. This is one of those times. The people of
Egypt have spoken, their voices have been heard, and Egypt will never be the
By stepping down, President Mubarak responded to the Egyptian people’s
hunger for change. But this is not the end of Egypt’s transition. It’s a
beginning. I’m sure there will be difficult days ahead, and many questions
remain unanswered. But I am confident that the people of Egypt can find the
answers, and do so peacefully, constructively, and in the spirit of unity
that has defined these last few weeks. For Egyptians have made it clear
that nothing less than genuine democracy will carry the day.
The military has served patriotically and responsibly as a caretaker to
the state, and will now have to ensure a transition that is credible in the
eyes of the Egyptian people. That means protecting the rights of Egypt’s
citizens, lifting the emergency law, revising the constitution and other
laws to make this change irreversible, and laying out a clear path to
elections that are fair and free. Above all, this transition must bring all
of Egypt’s voices to the table. For the spirit of peaceful protest and
perseverance that the Egyptian people have shown can serve as a powerful
wind at the back of this change.
The United States will continue to be a friend and partner to Egypt.
We stand ready to provide whatever assistance is necessary — and asked
for — to pursue a credible transition to a democracy. I’m also confident
that the same ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit that the young people of
Egypt have shown in recent days can be harnessed to create new
opportunity — jobs and businesses that allow the extraordinary potential of
this generation to take flight. And I know that a democratic Egypt can
advance its role of responsible leadership not only in the region but around
Egypt has played a pivotal role in human history for over 6,000 years.
But over the last few weeks, the wheel of history turned at a blinding pace
as the Egyptian people demanded their universal rights.
We saw mothers and fathers carrying their children on their shoulders
to show them what true freedom might look like.
We saw a young Egyptian say, “For the first time in my life, I really
count. My voice is heard. Even though I’m only one person, this is the way
real democracy works.”
We saw protesters chant “Selmiyya, selmiyya” — “We are peaceful” —
again and again.
We saw a military that would not fire bullets at the people they were
sworn to protect.
And we saw doctors and nurses rushing into the streets to care for
those who were wounded, volunteers checking protesters to ensure that they
We saw people of faith praying together and chanting – “Muslims,
Christians, We are one.” And though we know that the strains between faiths
still divide too many in this world and no single event will close that
chasm immediately, these scenes remind us that we need not be defined by our
differences. We can be defined by the common humanity that we share.
And above all, we saw a new generation emerge — a generation that uses
their own creativity and talent and technology to call for a government that
represented their hopes and not their fears; a government that is responsive
to their boundless aspirations. One Egyptian put it simply: Most people
have discovered in the last few days…that they are worth something, and this
cannot be taken away from them anymore, ever.
This is the power of human dignity, and it can never be denied.
Egyptians have inspired us, and they’ve done so by putting the lie to the
idea that justice is best gained through violence. For in Egypt, it was the
moral force of nonviolence — not terrorism, not mindless killing — but
nonviolence, moral force that bent the arc of history toward justice once
And while the sights and sounds that we heard were entirely Egyptian,
we can’t help but hear the echoes of history — echoes from Germans tearing
down a wall, Indonesian students taking to the streets, Gandhi leading his
people down the path of justice.
As Martin Luther King said in celebrating the birth of a new nation in
Ghana while trying to perfect his own, “There is something in the soul that
cries out for freedom.” Those were the cries that came from Tahrir Square,
and the entire world has taken note.
Today belongs to the people of Egypt, and the American people are moved
by these scenes in Cairo and across Egypt because of who we are as a people
and the kind of world that we want our children to grow up in.
The word Tahrir means liberation. It is a word that speaks to that
something in our souls that cries out for freedom. And forevermore it will
remind us of the Egyptian people — of what they did, of the things that
they stood for, and how they changed their country, and in doing so changed
END 3:13 P.M. EST
#2 White House Press Secretary
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release February 11, 2011 Remarks by the President and Press
Briefing by Press Secretary Robert Gibbs
James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
3:32 P.M. EST
Q Anything further about Egypt?
MR. GIBBS: I like that tie. ….
But before I lose it, we should probably start the 250th briefing of
the Obama administration with Mr. Feller.
Q Shifting to Egypt, a few questions. First of all, could you tell
us whether President Obama was surprised by the news this morning?
MR. GIBBS: Well, look, I think that throughout the morning we had
gotten — and into last night — gotten indications that the last speeches
may not have been given, and the last changes, particularly this morning
when, with the — with everybody reporting that there would be a statement
from the office of the president.
So the President, as I think many of you have reported, was in a
regularly scheduled meeting in the Oval when a note was taken in to him to
let him know what had been announced. And since then, prior to giving the
statement, he spent about an hour with his national security team from about
1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. in the Situation Room talking about what’s going on
there now, and what we have to plan for now, going forward.
Q But he learned, when he got that note after the announcement —
essentially he learned with the rest of us.
MR. GIBBS: Well, he learned what precisely had been said. I don’t
want to get into what other information he might have gotten.
Q Big picture, is this change helpful or harmful to the interests of
the United States?
MR. GIBBS: Well, Ben, I think that any time that a government changes
based on the popular response of its people, as you’ve heard the President
talk about a lot, is important. All governments have responsibilities to
those that they represent. I think as you heard the President say in his
statement, there will be many bumps along this road as this transition
continues toward free and fair elections.
So I don’t doubt, as I said, that there will be — there’s much work to
be done. This was — this is the beginning of that process, not the end of
Q Does the President have any concerns as that process unfolds about
the unknowns, about the — any sense of instability right now?
MR. GIBBS: Well, look, I think that the partnership that we’ve had
with the people and the nation of Egypt for 30 years has brought regional
stability and has brought peace, particularly between the countries of Egypt
and Israel. And I think it’s important that the next government of Egypt,
as we’ve said in here many times, recognize the accords that have been
signed with the government of Israel.
You know, I think that, again, a lot has yet to be determined. I think
it is clear, though, watching the events unfold over the last couple days,
the real breadth of Egyptian society that’s been out seeking the type of
change that we saw happen today, I don’t think is dominated by a single
group or a single ideology. I think the breadth is quite wide.
Q Robert, since the protests began, all of your statements about
Egypt have been very carefully worded. I thought last night’s statement
from the President was especially carefully worded. Mubarak wasn’t even
mentioned. Did the President have a sense then, when he issued that
statement, that maybe the speech yesterday from Mubarak wasn’t the final
MR. GIBBS: Well, look, I think it is safe to say that the very same
contacts that we have in Egypt are some of the very same contacts that many
of you all had that seemed to tell everyone that a different speech might be
what we would hear — that we didn’t hear last night.
And I think — I think as the statement says, it was at that point a
missed opportunity for the government of Egypt to take the necessary steps
toward that orderly transition. I think that was — I think, quite frankly,
Caren, that’s been true building throughout the week, that you have seen as
the government failed to take the necessary steps to broaden the coalition
and to make some fundamental reforms that would signal to those in the
opposition that they were serious, the crowds grew larger and larger.
So there is no doubt I think that there has — this is a situation
where I think the phrase we’ve used a lot around here is “threading the
needle.” There are a lot of equities in the country and in the region. And
ultimately this is something that started with, was driven by, and will
ultimately only be solved by the people of Egypt. I think that is true in
the lead-up to the historic announcement today but will be even more
important in the days ahead leading to elections.
Q Can you talk about contacts with leaders in the region that have
taken place since the announcement?
MR. GIBBS: Since the announcement today? The President has not made
any phone calls either to those in the region or — not talked to any heads
Q What about senior-level contacts? And what kind of assurances, if
any, can you give Israel and Jordan about how this may affect them and their
concerns about stability?
MR. GIBBS: Well, look, we have throughout this process wanted to see
protests that were peaceful, protests that were — our outcome in this
process we wanted to see happen in an orderly way to ensure some of that
very stability. I think that if you — that’s what, quite frankly, is what
has guided us this entire time.
The President — again, the President has not spoken with anybody. I
do not believe at this point — though I would check — you should check
more carefully with the Pentagon, in terms of whether in the last few
hours — I don’t think there have been any contacts. Obviously we’ve got
pretty good relationships, as you’ve seen throughout this process on a
I will say it is remarkable to watch in the region how Iran is dealing
with this. We saw I think about a week or so ago they made some provocative
statements about what these marches meant. We now know what — how they’re
responding to the images that we see in Tahrir Square. They are arresting
people in Iran. They are blocking international media outlets. They are
turning off the Internet.
So for all of the empty talk about Egypt, I think if the Iranian
government — I think it’s up to the — the Iranian government should allow
the Iranian people to exercise the very same right of peaceful assembly and
ability to demonstrate and communicate their desires. I think we’ve all
seen, again, their response. The head of the Revolutionary Guard said
today, “Seditionists are no more than a corpse. We will severely crush any
of their movements.”
So I think what you’ve seen in the region is the government of Iran,
quite frankly, scared of the will of its people.
Q Thanks, Robert. Before I ask my last questions of you in this
room, good luck, and I hope you get to spend a lot of time with Ethan. I’ve
also taken the liberty of going back and looking at all the questions you
said you’d get back to us with an answer — (laughter) — that you didn’t
get back to us with —
MR. GIBBS: Jay —
Q — starting in January 2009.
MR. GIBBS: Jay will have a transcript of all of those for you on
Monday. And if you don’t get it, just keeping pinging him.
Q When was the last time President Obama spoke with President
MR. GIBBS: I’d have to double-check, but I believe it was — I’ll
double-check. I think it was right before he spoke — was it — it was
Monday, right? The Monday that he spoke. The last one we read out.
Q The last time you announced that —
MR. GIBBS: There haven’t been any calls since that that I’m aware of.
Q Under the Obama administration, the State Department changed the
way that civil society in Egypt was funding — was funded. First of all, it
didn’t directly fund civil society groups or democracy groups as the Bush
administration had done. It instead went through the Egyptian government
through approved civil society groups, and then also lowered how much civil
society groups were funded. In retrospect, does the Obama administration
MR. GIBBS: No, I — look, I can get you a little bit longer
fact-pattern on this. I think that — I think our commitment to the
universal principles that the President has talked about throughout this
process, and in countries not just in Egypt and not just in the region but
around the world, I think are best exemplified by what he said standing in
Cairo, saying many of the things you’ve heard him say over the past several
Obviously, we are watching the situation and will, as, I think, members
have testified just in the last day or so up at — up on Capitol Hill,
tailor our assistance to a changing situation.
Q Okay. And lastly, Egypt has been a tremendous ally to the United
States, according to the government, on the issue of counterterrorism.
Where are you concerned that there might not be as much support in the next
government, whoever it is? What areas —
MR. GIBBS: Well, I will say this, Jake, let me — obviously, we’re
going to watch the events, as you and many others will, in the days and
months ahead. I can say that our — the important relationships that we
have at different levels in our government with their government, I think
the President was assured continue, and particularly the one you mentioned.
Q Thank you, Robert. And all the best in your next endeavor. Can
you talk to us about the role that the Vice President played in what ended
up happening in Egypt? I know he sent a strongly worded letter to his
counterpart, Mr. Suleiman, a few days ago. Can you describe his role —
MR. GIBBS: Well, I think that — yes, I mean, look, I think the Vice
President has — we talked about it in here, there’s a — he had a
counterpart-to-counterpart relationship with Vice President Suleiman, and
has on a number of occasions spoken directly with him and, quite honestly,
Dan, reiterated largely the very same set of points that you’ve heard us
make public, and that is the genuine steps that needed to be taken to
address the concerns that those in Tahrir Square and throughout the country
have had. I think he has — he’s been on the phone fairly regularly. I
think — obviously he has brought to meetings in the Situation Room and in
the Oval Office, like last evening, quite a bit of knowledge and experience
in foreign affairs and foreign policy that have helped guide the
administration along the last 18 days or so.
Q Was that phone call, though, that we got the readout with some of
the demands, was that a pivotal moment in this crisis?
MR. GIBBS: Well, look, I think that — I think that there — it’s
probably hard to go back and pinpoint all of them, but I would say that it
was — hard to, I think, be any clearer and more blunt than the Vice
President was on that call about the steps that we, that the international
community and, most importantly, the people of Egypt needed to see happen.
And I think that — I think that certainly helped move this process along.
Q Yesterday when the President made his comments on Egypt at the top
of his remarks in Michigan, was the White House at that time fairly
optimistic that Mr. Mubarak was going to step down yesterday?
MR. GIBBS: Well, as I said, Dan, I said earlier in this briefing, I
think many of the same contacts that we had are many of the same contacts
that your network and many others in this room had in reporting what might
happen in Egypt yesterday. I think the President talked about historic
transformations, which we’ve seen, quite frankly, play out each and every
day in the last 18 [days].
But I think what’s important now is we have to look forward and work —
help all work through a process to get us to the free and fair elections
that so many have spent time yearning for.
Q And finally, just to follow up on what Ben was asking, I’m not
sure I heard an answer to this notion of concern from the White House as to
what happens between now and the elections in September. Is there concern
about what the leadership structure will be like, what could potentially
happen before the people of Egypt start voting in September?
MR. GIBBS: Well, again, I think that — I don’t think we have to fear
democracy. I don’t — I think the international community has, and again I
think most importantly the people have, laid out a series of steps that they
need to see taken. But I think it’s important, Dan, to understand that this
was a group of demonstrations and protests that were — that demonstrated
the breadth of concern across Egyptian society.
Again, I don’t think you can look at it and say this was the group that
did this, or these are the people that — again, what you’ve seen is mothers
and daughters. You’ve seen this process in some ways led by somebody that
works for, as I said a couple of days ago, one of the larger companies in
So I think this is — what you’ve seen is the breadth of cause and
concern that had to have been addressed and needed to be addressed by the
government, and I think today was the very first step in that process.
Q Thank you, Robert, and congratulations.
MR. GIBBS: Thank you.
Q I hope it was as good for you as it was for us. (Laughter.)
MR. GIBBS: He’s trying to date me and I’m not going to do it.
Q You said that obviously there are going to be some bumps in the
road and that the military needs to lay out a clear path. What is going to
be the role of the President, the Vice President, the Secretary of State,
publicly over the next weeks and months? Do they now pull back and say,
okay, this really is up to the Egyptian people now and we’re not going to
intervene? Or do they keep up the public pressure with statements and —
MR. GIBBS: I think again, first and foremost, this was always about
the people of Egypt. This always was going to be solved by the people of
Egypt. No statement here, no comment that was made here, was going to, I
think, bring the fundamental change that people were looking for in Egypt.
We talked about it a lot in here. I think the people of Egypt — again,
they have their concerns and they’re not going to be — the definition of
how to solve those concerns is not going to be solved here.
But again, I think we will continue to try to play a constructive role
in helping this process along. But, again, I think this is — this started
with the Egyptian people, and it will end with the Egyptian people.
Q But do you think the President, Vice President, Secretary of State
will be as publicly out there in pressing the military?
MR. GIBBS: Well, I mean, again, I think this is — I think what we’ve
seen — well, I think at every step along this way we have been very clear
about the response — and you heard the President discuss it today — about
violence. And I think it’s remarkable. What we’ve seen in the past 18
days, in terms of the type of sweeping change, is unlike anything we’ve ever
seen in a short period of time. And I think the next process of this is
going to play out over a much longer arc.
We will continue to be involved and to ensure that the transitional
government in Egypt and ultimately the government that the people choose to
represent the people of Egypt, if they take the steps that are necessary to
meet the concerns of those in Egypt, then this government will be a strong
partner to it and to all of our friends in the region.
Q Why exactly did the President choose not to call a foreign leader,
either Egyptian leaders or other leaders in the region, over the last day or
MR. GIBBS: Well, I — let me go back and see if there’s any been
yesterday — he has not talked to anybody today.
MR. GIBBS: I think we have — I think we are watching events and
monitoring them. And I don’t doubt in the days ahead that the President
will reach out to those. But this is an Egyptian story today.
Q And the last question, is there a hope in the White House that the
example in Egypt could inspire another uprising in Iran?
MR. GIBBS: Well, as I mentioned earlier, I think there is quite a
contrast between the way the government of Egypt and the people of Egypt are
interacting, and the government of Iran is threatening its very own people.
I think if the government of Iran was as confident as they would have you
believe in the statements that they put out, they would have nothing to fear
with the peaceful demonstration like those that you’ve seen in Cairo and
They’re not that confident. They’re scared. That’s why they’ve
threatened to kill anybody that tries to do this. That’s why they’ve shut
off all measure of communication. I think it speaks volumes about the
strength and the confidence that they have in fulfilling the wishes and the
will of its people.
Q Robert, do you have any sense if the images coming from Egypt are
somehow getting into Iran? We’ve heard the Vice President and now you talk
about Iran. I’m wondering if the administration thinks there’s a chance
that the message is getting in somehow to Iran.
MR. GIBBS: Well, look, I think we have all seen reports that — over
the past many days that there — those in Iran have and want to march and
demonstrate peacefully. The government of Iran, again, has met those — the
concerns of its people with threatening to kill them. Again, I think it
speaks volumes as to what — it speaks volumes to the grip that they have,
or lack thereof, on the popular beliefs of their own people.
Q Can you talk about Vice President Suleiman’s role at this point?
Is he still in a key role, or is he on his way out as well?
MR. GIBBS: Mike, I think that is a question for the transitional
government in Egypt.
Q Talk a little bit, if you don’t mind, about the communications
challenge with this event unfolding halfway around the globe, trying not to
get ahead of the message. How challenging was that?
MR. GIBBS: Well, look, as I said earlier, I — we have — there are a
lot of different audiences, there’s a lot of different equities. We — and
I think the bottom line was, as I said, this was — this started in and it
will be solved by the people of Egypt. We spoke throughout this process
about the universal values that went into the creation of our country and
what those marching thought needed to go into the creation of their new
I think — I don’t think there’s any doubt it has been challenging and
there have — not in quite some time have we had probably one topic take up
so much space inside of here over the past 18 days like it has. But there’s
no doubt it is, and it’s a — was a challenging topic for us to discuss.
But I don’t — and I think as the President said, there will be challenging
days ahead for those in Egypt to construct what their country will look like
in the months and years ahead.
Q Do you mind giving out your personal email address so we can keep
MR. GIBBS: Marissa has it. I probably shouldn’t say it on TV.
Q You don’t want the American people to have it?
MR. GIBBS: J-a-y — (laughter.) I’m kidding. (Laughter.)
Q Everything’s been said before, I guess just everyone hadn’t said
it yet, right? Let me ask you —
MR. GIBBS: And that’s sort of — that’s the —
Q Isn’t that the way this works?
MR. GIBBS: — that’s the thematic of the briefing, isn’t it?
Q Sometimes it is. Was it a bigger — the events of yesterday or
the events of today the bigger surprise to you guys and to the President?
MR. GIBBS: Well, again, I think everyone was surprised at — a bit at
yesterday. Again, I — we — I think you can go look at my transcript from
yesterday. I was on the cautious side because I think it was clear that
things were happening, as they have over the course of 18 days, very
Again, it is remarkable to stand here or to sit there or anywhere in
our country and watch what’s happened over the span of that 18 days. It is
a remarkable arc in human history. But, again, I think many people were
surprised at yesterday.
Q How much — is there a sense of relief in the administration,
MR. GIBBS: Well, look, I think that — as I said a minute ago, I don’t
think we have to fear democracy. I don’t — I think that whenever the will
of the people shapes the demands of those that govern it, that’s what many
had in mind with democracy and representation. So I think that’s an
important step. And again, this is about Egypt and about its people.
Q Does this change Middle East policy for the United States from
here on out? Just what happened in Egypt, what could happen elsewhere, is
it fair to say that this is going to change America’s foreign policy in the
Middle East over the long term?
MR. GIBBS: Well, look, again, I don’t — we don’t know the ultimate
outcome of what free and fair elections will be. We don’t have a sense of
who that next leader will be, but — we don’t know that person’s exact
identity, I should say.
But I think that we will continue to have important relationships.
This is a volatile region of the world. The relationships — the bilateral
that we have — bring some measure of stability and peace to the region.
Obviously, there’s still great work to do to bring peace throughout
this region, and the President has worked tirelessly with the team on that.
But — and I think, again, there will be many days ahead to see what comes
next here. But I also think it’s important, we will continue to talk
about — as we have — as we did with the Egyptian government — of the
universal values that we hold dear.
Q On Iran, I just want to follow up on that. Obviously, you guys
made a decision to do something — on those, the Vice President’s comments,
you read from specific — what appears to be things that you wanted to say
about it —
MR. GIBBS: I wanted to get the Revolutionary Guard senior commander
Q You guys have always walked this line with Iran, even the last
time when there were protesters, that you don’t want to look like America is
interfering, that you’ve always feared that. So I guess talk about that
MR. GIBBS: Well, I don’t — look, we’re not interfering. This is —
remember, this started with the government of Iran discussing what was
happening in Egypt. And I think probably a week or 10 days ago, I think I
said to Stephen Collinson in question that if that’s what they believe, then
they wouldn’t have any problem letting their people demonstrate about the
concerns that they have.
Now we know they didn’t really mean that. Now we know that what they
really are scared of is exactly what might happen. They’re scared of that,
and they’re threatening those that might do it with death. It’s a
strange — to say the least — reaction to a government and a military
that — governments and militaries are pledged to protect their citizens.
And it is clear that the government of Iran is quite scared of theirs.
Q I feel like I should give you an opportunity to talk about Cam
Newton’s pro day yesterday. You did bring plenty of college football to the
MR. GIBBS: Auburn will be — Auburn will be here in mid-April, and I
will be back. (Laughter.)
Q Following up on Chuck’s last question, second to last question —
Q On the Cam Newton? (Laughter.)
MR. GIBBS: They go together, don’t they?
Q With the benefit of hindsight, are there any regrets that the
administration didn’t do more to support the revolution in Iran at the time
and boost it?
MR. GIBBS: No, I think you — I think what we said then is true now.
And I think we — again, we supported universal rights, and we support the
ability for those to exercise them. And I think it’s up to the government
of Iran to allow that to happen.
Q So it was handled —
MR. GIBBS: Again, I — I think there’s — as we’ve talked about in
here, there’s different degrees of development in each society.
Q And on a different subject, because I do think we’re maybe getting
to the end of the possible Egypt questions, but I’m sure there are — others
will be more creative —
MR. GIBBS: You seem hopeful, Laura. (Laughter.)
Q On the budget, do you think that what you put forth on spending
cuts will be enough to be credible in the eyes that the bar that Republicans
have set for cuts to federal spending? And do you think you can have a
credible budget without taking on entitlements?
MR. GIBBS: Well, I think it’s important — I think if you go back and
see what I said about the budget yesterday and the day before, I think it’s
important that we not just talk about cuts, but we talk about its — their
impact on the deficit. And I make that point because I think the
seriousness with which anybody approaches this has to be taken in some
We’re going to have a debate for a number of years — for a number of
the next two years about tax cuts for those who make above $250,000. We
have had a debate that takes us back to the debates of the last two years
about whether or not we should repeal health care.
We know the impact of both of those is to add far more than anybody
pledges to reducing cuts to the deficit. So I think that what the President
will put forward on Monday will be a — will certainly meet the measure of
credibility: a spending — a five-year spending freeze that results in a
10-year reduction of about $400 billion, and the smallest percentage of
government spending in relation to size of the economy since Eisenhower was
I think the President, though, has been clear that there’s more that we
have to do. And I think that will be part of the conversation over the next
Q I bet you’re going to be following every facet of that budget
process over the next few weeks. (Laughter.)
MR. GIBBS: I will email Jay repeatedly about —
Q Back on Egypt, looking back at the full scope of everything that’s
been said, starting on January 25th when Secretary Clinton talked about the
stability of the Mubarak government to what the President said today, do you
think that you all have been proactive or reactive to what’s happened there
over these 18 days?
MR. GIBBS: Peter, I think we have been — I think we have been fairly
steady in what we’ve said. I think you can chart what the President said
today and what — from when he talked publicly about this the first time and
when I talked publicly about this the first time, the measure of what we
were for, the fact that this was about the people of Egypt and would be
solved by them.
Look, I don’t doubt that — there were some people, again, in the
region that saw us too much on one side, and others watching the same
statement saw us on too much of the other. I think we had to — and I think
the President and his team showed steady leadership that continued to voice
the concerns of those that wanted greater rights and greater opportunities.
Q Is what happened today that result that the President desired?
MR. GIBBS: Well, I think the President and the team desired to see
greater recognition of the rights that he talked about in Cairo in 2009 and
that those that have marched in Cairo in 2011 have sought. Again, I don’t
think we have to fear — I don’t think this is something we should fear. I
think this is, as I said and the President have said, that we — those that
are in government have an opportunity to represent the will of the people.
And I think that process, that long transition, has just begun in Egypt.
Q One more shot on Iran. Would you like to see in Tehran — would
you like to see what happened in Cairo today happen ultimately in Tehran?
MR. GIBBS: I would like to see, and I think the administration would
like to see, the ability of the people of Iran to voice what they’d like to
see from their government. And I think if the government of Iran didn’t
fear the voices of their own people, they’d let them do that.
Q So you don’t want to go so far as to say you’d like to see that
MR. GIBBS: I’m comfortable with my previous answer.
Q Does that apply to Saudi Arabia?
MR. GIBBS: Again, I — we have conversations with governments
throughout the world in this region and in other regions about adhering to
Q Following on Karen’s question earlier, how concerned is the
administration specifically about unrest spreading to Jordan? Queen Rania
has been accused of corruption. How closely are you looking at that
MR. GIBBS: Well, look, I mean, throughout this process we have
watched — again, we’ve watched throughout the region. And again, I
reiterate that when we have meetings with — when we have bilateral meetings
with these countries, we discuss, again, the universal values that we
discussed on many occasions with the government of Egypt.
Q Are you particularly concerned about unrest spreading to Jordan
and Syria and these other —
MR. GIBBS: I’m not going to get into some of those conversations.
Q Could you talk a little bit more about the role the administration
thinks that the Egyptian military should be playing now that they’ve
essentially taken over?
MR. GIBBS: Well, the — look, this is — I don’t — I’m not going to
go through each and every step of this process. I think the President was
clear in the responsibilities as a transitional government that they have.
Some of the changes that are necessary need to take place, and the important
steps that have to be demonstrated and the constitutional change that we
need to see, that the people of Egypt need to see, on the road to free and
fair elections. And I think they have those — they have those obligations
Q Best of luck, Robert. Be happy. Three housekeeping questions.
Are you going to recommend to Jay that he continue the pattern of really
very heavy questions in the first two or three rows? (Laughter.) It’s a
serious question for everybody in the back rows.
MR. GIBBS: Connie, would you have that question if you weren’t
situated today in the middle of the second row? (Laughter.)
Q It’s not my seat, but I’ve been here for 43 years.
MR. GIBBS: Connie, I am only moments away from not having to wade into
the politics of many of the rows in this room, and I am not going to — I
know that you guys will solve all these problems together.
Q Two more. Will you recommend that you have the prearranged
questions, a list of questions, at press conferences?
MR. GIBBS: We don’t have a prearranged list of questions at press
Q Arranged questioners, I think.
MR. GIBBS: Is that what she meant?
Q Yes, that’s what I meant.
MR. GIBBS: I think we bring some order to how the President calls on
you guys. We don’t have — I want to be clear, because I think your
original question before Jake amended it was, does the President have a
prearranged list of questions at the press conference?
Q He reads my mind.
MR. GIBBS: I’m going to leave that aside. (Laughter.) Again, the
President does not have a prearranged list of questions at a press
Do you realize that you’re just — Dana is just writing all this down.
(Laughter.) He’s absorbing all of this, and this stuff just writes itself.
Q He had a great book, by the way.
MR. GIBBS: I’ll have some time to read it.
Q I can’t remember my last question now.
MR. GIBBS: Jake may know. (Laughter.)
Q Prearranged question. (Laughter.)
Q Who decides — oh, yes, the last question. Will you keep your
excellent staff, press staff, on board?
MR. GIBBS: Keep these guys? Absolutely. (Laughter.) No, no, this is
very serious. These guys — there’s no better group of — there’s no better
group that I’ve ever worked with, and I’ve done this — I took my first job
in politics February 14th, 1994, paid job. And I will walk out of here on
February 13th, 2011 — 17 years. I have not had and not worked with a
greater group of people than what I have worked with on a campaign and in
this office. And they are terrific. Each and every day they make the
President and they make all of us look good. They are and will continue to
be the backbone of the White House press operation.
Q Thank you. You guys owe me one for that.
Q Now, this is a prearranged question — (laughter) — so you
already know it, but for the benefit of everybody else here —
MR. GIBBS: I’ll let you finish it just so it looks —
Q Just for appearances.
MR. GIBBS: “No.” (Laughter.) Oh, I didn’t, sorry. (Laughter.) Go
Q What is your — what is the President’s message to people in
Jordan and Saudi Arabia who are looking at Egypt, saying, we want to have
the same sort of nonviolent revolution; get rid of our monarchy. Would he
MR. GIBBS: Well, again, I don’t think it is — it hasn’t been during
the 18 days here, and it’s not our role to make that kind of statement.
Again, I think it is important that — we have bilateral relationships and
in those meetings we say publicly and we say privately that governments
throughout the world — we just did this when the government of China was
here — have to recognize a certain level of individual and basic freedom.
And I think that has been true for this administration and previous
administrations that were here before us.
Q Thank you, Robert. Now that you have more time on your hands, you’ll
be returning all our phone calls and emails, won’t you? (Laughter.) I love
he does a “no comment.”
I’m going to depart from the Egypt questions and follow on Laura’s
budget questions. The House Republicans have been very divided among
themselves over how much cutting to do. As you know, conservatives are
pressing for additional cuts. The President met with Speaker Boehner
earlier this week, and I’m wondering how closely is President Obama watching
this debate among Republicans? And how concerned is he that the pressure
that their party faces from the right will make it more difficult for him to
reach some kind of agreement with Republicans on a budget?
MR. GIBBS: Well, look, I don’t — I think the President obviously is a
pretty big consumer of news. I have not heard him discuss in the past few
days the articles about, as you mentioned, the pressure that House
Republicans have come under from different entities in their caucus.
I think that — I think out of that lunch and I think even well before
that lunch we had a model in December of being able to sit down and make
some important decisions for the people of this country to take some
important steps like reducing our deficit that only can be done when we both
seek common ground. And I think that’s what will be the end of this, is
there will be some agreement.
I think there will be some tough decisions along the way, and you’ll
see some of those tough decisions from our side in the budget. But I think
in the end you will see that the two parties have to come together. And we
have divided government. That’s the nature of any our solutions.
Q So he’s confident that he can avert a shutdown of the sort that
happened in the mid-1990s, and that you’ll —
MR. GIBBS: I doubt that — I think there’s probably some very serious
concern in the Republican caucus of not wanting to repeat that. And I think
that you’ve heard the notion of some of — even Speaker Boehner has said we
have to make some tough decisions around and some tough votes on the debt
that require us all to be adult.
Q Thank you, Robert. Compliments to you and your family.
MR. GIBBS: Thank you.
Q Regarding the six-party talks, South Korean government had mentioned
today the issue of the preconditions for resumption of the six-party talks.
And does the United States have any preconditions to rejoin six-party talks?
MR. GIBBS: Well, I think what was clear in the bilateral talks that
quickly broke down earlier this week between South Korea and North Korea was
that North Korea genuinely lacked the seriousness to be involved in this.
And I think before we return to six-party talks, I think North Korea has to
demonstrate a seriousness — the seriousness with which they need to employ
to live up to their commitments.
And I think it was clear, again, when talks broke down earlier this
week bilaterally, that they were — they had no real intention of entering
into a constructive dialogue like this. And I think it results in further
isolation of North Korea, and they can make a conscious decision but it’s
going to require that conscious decision.
Q What is the detail of the United States —
MR. GIBBS: Well, I think — look, I think the broadest thing is they’ve
got — again, they have to show a willingness to live up to their
commitments and to denuclearize. And I — that’s what we have said
throughout this process and I think they need to demonstrate how serious
they are about that.
Q Thank you. Mr. President said Egyptians have changed the world.
And so far what I am hearing about states, other oppressive states in the
region, it looks like your administration has not yet adapted to this
changing world. Or could you please walk us through what is the changing
world and what does your administration need for the changing world?
MR. GIBBS: I think I gave this — I’ve given this answer a couple of
times, but I’ll repeat it. We spend time in public and in private with
governments throughout the world — not just in this region, but throughout
the world — on what we see — I’m not sure what that noise is. There we
go. Sorry. Caren’s recorder went from recorder to player, or somebody’s
did. I thought maybe — I thought that was in my head, but now it appeared
to be — (laughter.)
Q That’s why —
MR. GIBBS: It appeared to have been — I felt much better when you
guys recognized it as a noise too.
Q Is that why you’re leaving? (Laughter.)
Q He’s hearing noises.
MR. GIBBS: I think that — again, there are certain basic and
universal rights that people yearn for throughout the world. That’s exactly
what the President talked about, and I think that’s what — that’s the —
the responsibility of governments is to meet those rights.
Q But the statement came from the President and he openly said the
world has changed. So my question is, again, has any kind of policy changed
so far that can we see dealing with these states? Have you adjusted your
MR. GIBBS: Well, again, I — I’ll try it one more time. We had these
conversations directly with those — with governments throughout the world.
Again, we mentioned what happened not too long ago with the government of
China that resulted in the leader of the Chinese saying there was much work
to be done.
Q You’ve worked for the President both — while he was President and
as a presidential candidate. Do you think as we move in toward the 2012
campaign — presumably we’ll see you again sometime during that period — do
you think he can make governmental decisions and simply leave politics out
of it? Is he the kind of person who can make governmental policy decisions
without always thinking maybe in the back of his mind on his own political
MR. GIBBS: Like that brilliant auto bailout? (Laughter.) I mean, I
will say I think most of the first couple years of our administration have
been marked with decisions that you didn’t need anybody to tell you weren’t
hugely popular but needed to be taken.
Q Saw how that came out.
MR. GIBBS: And — but I think part of that is because we had an
election — there’s a calendar of elections and then there’s an arc of
recovery that may not perfectly align with an interim election.
This is a President who has, again, made a series of very tough,
sometimes unpopular decisions to ensure that we didn’t go from what some
have called a great recession to a great depression. And I think the
President — I think one of the things you’ll see is you’ll see a lot more
of the President trying to tell the story of why we’re making these
I think that’s — I think he said that. That’s one of the threads that
we lost over the first two years was we made a series of decisions that had
to be made quickly, and we forgot to tell a larger story.
Q Will you and others advise him to make those tough decisions even
when it’s him up for reelection?
MR. GIBBS: We will. I mean, I will tell you that I remember being in
the final decisions around the — what to do about the auto companies, and
it is a tremendous story and people that have worked on it here have done a
But even — I remember sitting in that meeting and even with — the
notion was even if you give — if you make some of the required management
changes and give them a lifeline, it was still a 51-49 proposition. I think
it will go down as one of the best decisions we made because now you see
companies that are fundamentally restructured and capable of surviving and
thriving in this economy and that will only get stronger.
Q Two questions if I can. First, can you talk about what — how
much, if at all, the recommendations from the budget commission, deficit
commission, are going to be reflected in the budget that we see on Monday?
MR. GIBBS: That is a good question for somebody next week.
Q All right. Well, then on the subject of —
MR. GIBBS: I should use that more often in the next few minutes.
Q CPAC is happening just up the road, and a number of potential
candidates are speaking there today. Mitt Romney called the President a
weak President who lacks clear direction, and Tim Pawlenty invoked the birth
certificate controversy and asked what planet the President is from. I’m
wondering if you want to take a shot at responding to potential rivals of
the President —
MR. GIBBS: I think we did pretty well Minnesota and I think the
President has — though he didn’t talk about it a lot, Mitt Romney — I
think what Governor Romney did on health care was one of the decisions that
Ann just alluded to that was a tough decision, but it was a series of the
right decisions. I’d be interested to see if throughout the next two years
the two words “health care” come out of his mouth.
Q Can you — I know you won’t be here, but can you give us a little
week-ahead, how the President plans to —
MR. GIBBS: I have a week-ahead, yes. You want to just fast-forward
this whole thing, don’t you?
Q No, no. And then I have others. One or two.
MR. GIBBS: I’ll do the week-ahead last, how about that?
Q The Chicago election, do you know how the President intends to
vote? Is that absentee?
MR. GIBBS: He has requested his absentee ballot. The last time I
checked, the First Lady had voted and the President had yet to. I will —
Q But do check, because she hadn’t voted as of Tuesday.
MR. GIBBS: I think — I think the last time I checked was yesterday.
Q Okay, so you think —
MR. GIBBS: So I think she voted — she’s voted sometime in between. I
don’t know whether the President has voted, but I will check on that
right — as soon as I get out here.
Q And then if you could —
Q And get back to us.
MR. GIBBS: Yes.
Q How would you — just on your departure, how would you assess the
President’s relationship with the press corps at this point in his
MR. GIBBS: Soon somebody is going to pay me a lot of money to give
that assessment and I look forward to — (laughter) — I look forward to
sharing that with them.
Q Thank you, Robert.
MR. GIBBS: April.
Q Hey, wait a minute. (Laughter.)
MR. GIBBS: He does that just to do that, April. That’s why — if you
can see the size of the grin on Ben’s face every single day when he does
that. I’m sorry. I don’t mean to stir the pot as I leave.
Q Oh, yes, you do. (Laughter.)
MR. GIBBS: Go ahead.
Q Thank you, Ben. For the last time, promise me —
MR. GIBBS: Oh, I will get that to you. I have not had a chance to —
(laughter.) [Email Redacted] — (laughter.) No, I will — I will try to
find that out.
Q You promised Wednesday you were going to call me at home, and you
did not. (Laughter.)
MR. GIBBS: Yes, I did.
Q You did, on tape.
MR. GIBBS: Promised I’d call you at home?
Q Well, you said you’d call me that night. (Laughter.)
MR. GIBBS: I don’t think I said that I’d call you that night.
Q You said that night —
MR. GIBBS: April, can I —
Q Okay, just on the cell phone — you said —
MR. GIBBS: April, there may be —
Q Anyway, moving on —
MR. GIBBS: April, can I — I’ve got a follow-up. Who were you talking
to that promised to call you? I will go find out whether he’s voted or not.
Q I know these are things that I — I have an interest in that
answer, too, so —
Q A lot of people do, yes.
MR. GIBBS: I will go find out as soon as I walk out of here.
Q All right, now on the economics of Egypt, now that there is —
MR. GIBBS: Quite a segue. (Laughter.)
Q Now that there is a change in leadership, let’s talk about the
American pocketbook and gas prices and things of that nature. Should we
expect to see some change in prices of a barrel of oil now because things
have changed? Or is there still volatility to push the price up?
MR. GIBBS: Look, I think inherent in the pricing of oil is some
volatility. As much as I would love to tackle a few subjects that they tell
me never to talk about, I should not do that in the last briefing I have. I
will say this —
Q What can they do? (Laughter.)
Q Fire you? (Laughter.)
MR. GIBBS: I don’t want to make people rich or poor based on what I
Q You’re not an oil expert.
MR. GIBBS: But on a daily basis in the deputies committee meeting that
have been taking place around Egypt, we have discussed what is happening
with transportation in ports of entry and in the Suez, and we continue to
monitor that and do not see a disruption on that.
Q And lastly, congratulations on your new chapter.
MR. GIBBS: Thank you.
Q Now — (laughter) — Monday it’s going to be different for you.
Do you think you will be going through news and information withdrawal?
MR. GIBBS: No doubt.
Q How are you going to handle Monday when it comes?
MR. GIBBS: I will do that in my week ahead. I’ll show you —
Q Thanks. I wanted to follow up on Mitt Romney’s glaring omission
in his remarks today. Has the President been watching the CPAC coverage
inbetween watching the — okay. (Laughter.) And why do you think — do you
think that it’s important for Mitt Romney to talk about his health care
plan, and why? Why would that be important?
MR. GIBBS: I don’t know why he wouldn’t.
Q Really? Okay.
MR. GIBBS: I don’t know.
Q I had an Egypt one, believe it or not — actually a couple on
Egypt. Have the — have the Secretary Clinton and the Samantha Power camps
kind of gotten together? Are they on the same place now on — in terms
MR. GIBBS: I’m not entirely sure what you’re speaking about.
Q Internal divisions on how publicly to push for change and on how
much change is enough change, in terms of the Egyptian government. Is
there — is the White House and the administration all on the same page
MR. GIBBS: Margaret, I think we’ve been all on the same page for quite
some time. Rich and Stephen and then I’ll go.
Q No, it’s okay, it’s fine.
Q Robert, congratulations. And on Egypt, I’m wondering — you’ve
been talking about, like with Jordan and Saudi Arabia, the bilateral
relations, what the President says privately and publicly. I’m wondering,
though, at this moment, isn’t there more that he could be saying publicly?
Does he plan to play any sort of a greater role in terms of trying to
empower the people of other countries, like the Egyptian people are now
MR. GIBBS: Well, I think, again, Rich, I don’t know of anything that
is planned to do that. I would point you to what he said today. And I
think what’s important to remember about all of this is it didn’t start
by — we didn’t start it. We didn’t finish it. This is an issue for the
people of Egypt and the people of countries around the world to petition
Q The President just said now that the Egyptian people forged change
through peaceful means, and not terrorism and violence. Is the
administration arguing now that expressions of popular will like this and
democracy could drain a sort of swamp where — from which extremists find
MR. GIBBS: Well, I think that — I think the line, Stephen, that you
point to is one with some I think very specific meaning. And I think if you
go back to what the President said in his inaugural address by — there are
those that seek to change by building, and those that seek to change by
blowing up and destroying. And I think what we have seen in Cairo goes
greatly in contrast with entities like al Qaeda that have killed people that
share their belief, their religious belief, in order to scare and to
Q So, in that case, is it — will we see more of an emphasis on
pushing for democracy in the Middle East in the foreign policy than we’ve
MR. GIBBS: I think you’ll see the President continue to hold up the
concerns of those throughout the world that seek a greater recognition.
I’m going to do the week ahead and then I am going to go.
Q One more —
Q Robert —
MR. GIBBS: Let me just do the week ahead, guys. Before I do, I’m
going to give you my week ahead, April. Are you ready?
MR. GIBBS: On Monday, the former press secretary will travel with
Ethan Gibbs to school.
MR. GIBBS: In the morning he’ll catch some SportsCenter and a bike
ride if the weather holds up. In the afternoon he’s hoping for a nap —
(laughter) — before walking several hundred feet to the bus stop to greet
Ethan. Travel pool will accompany. (Laughter.) Fortunately for me, I do
not anticipate any further public events for the remainder of the week.
The President, on the other hand, and you all have a very busy week.
On Monday, the President will travel to Baltimore County, Maryland — I
don’t know if it’s city or not — to speak to the students at Parkville
Middle and Center of Technology. I don’t know if that’s the right —
Q Parkville Middle and Center of Technology.
MR. GIBBS: I see, there’s an “and.” Education Secretary Arne Duncan
and OMB Director Jack Lew will join the President for the visit, where he
will lay out key priorities in the 2012 budget and discuss the importance of
investing in education to prepare our children to be competitive in the
On Tuesday, the President will honor recipients of the 2010 Medal of
Freedom in a ceremony at the White House. The Medal of Freedom, America’s
highest civilian honor, is awarded to individuals who make an especially
meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United
States, world peace, cultural, or other significant public or private
On Wednesday, the President will meet with state legislators at the
White House. Later the President will deliver remarks at the White House on
the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative.
On Thursday, the President will attend meetings at the White House
before leaving in the afternoon to travel to the West Coast.
On Friday, the President will visit Intel Corporation in Hillsboro,
Oregon. While at Intel, the President will tour the world’s most advanced
semiconductor manufacturing facility, as well as learn more about Intel’s
science, technology, engineering and math education program.
It has been a tremendous honor and a privilege to do this over the past
little more than two years. I wish you all good luck. I will miss you. I
had a lot of fun. And I hope, as we covered some very serious subjects and
we watched the world change, I hope you had some fun, too.