Today, former Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer told CBS that he disapproved of President Obama’s speech in Cairo about the U.S. relationship with Muslim communities around the world. His problem with the speech? It was too “balanced”:
Fleischer bluntly told [CBS’s Mark] Knoller, “bottom line — the speech was balanced and that was what was wrong with it. American policy should not be balanced. It should side with those who fight terror.” […]
Knoller asked Fleischer if he heard much that is at odds with Bush administration policy.
“In part, it was similar to Bush’s constant message that both sides had obligations to fulfill,” he responded. “But Bush always leaned — privately and publicly — in Israel’s direction because they were being hit with terror attacks. Obama really wants to be in the middle. Bush took sides and was sometimes blunt about it.”
The Obama administration has faced criticism for being too balanced in the past. In January, Abe Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League called George Mitchell, Obama’s top diplomatic envoy to the Middle East, too “fair” and “even-handed.” As Matt Yglesias responded, “[N]obody comes out against fairness. It’d be one thing to complain [about being] biased against Israel in a problematic way, but…complaining that he’s too fair and even-handed” is “absurd.”
Matt Duss writes on the Wonk Room, “This is what diplomacy looks like.”