One of the defining features of President Barack Obama's overseas trip has been the cold and often critical reception he has received from Republicans back home.
The adage that "politics stops at the water's edge" has long been more in theory than practice. But even some of the GOP officials whom the president has previously hailed as voices of reason and respect on foreign policy matters have granted him no favors during his travels.
On Thursday, Sen. Lindsey Graham appeared on CSPAN's Washington Journal to discuss, in part, Obama's speech in Cairo that morning. And while applauding the call to close down the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, the South Carolina Republican still rapped the President for what he said was an overt effort to seek applause from the Arab world.
"People are not clapping here," said Graham. "It is our nation that will have to deal with the prisoners. They are not going to Egypt. And the problem the president has created for himself and the country and quite frankly for a guy like me who would like to help him, by announcing he will close the prison and gets applause around the world, you have made Americans wonder, what are we going to do with these people?"
"I think we could safely close Guantanamo Bay," Graham added. "But we need a plan. The President had never told anybody, including the people in Cairo, how you deal with these people."
The words were relatively mild compared to the largely partisan and negative reception the President's Middle East has received from other Republicans. But they are noteworthy because Graham had been positioned to be a bipartisan bridge for the White House on foreign policy matters.
"Joe [Biden], I drafted as vice president," Obama said after his V.P. and Graham visited Afghanistan in January. "But Lindsey Graham, I'm drafting as one of our counselors in dealing with foreign policy because the fact is, as our tradition has always been, that our differences end at the water's edge and that at a certain point it is imperative for us to have a clear, coherent strategy at home."
In private, Democratic strategists have offered a mix of surprise and anger over the way the president has been treated by his Republican critics , like House Minority Leader John Boehner, during this most recent trip. Boehner slammed Obama for placing "equal blame" on the Israelis and Palestinians in remarks on Thursday. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney labeled the entire trip an "apology tour."
There is, however, a portion of the Democratic Party that seems to welcome the vitriol, confident that it makes the GOP look petty in the shadow of Obama's statesmanship. Asked for reaction to Graham's comments that no one was clapping in the United States when Obama spoke in Cairo, DNC press secretary Hari Sevugan replied:
"You're making a big deal out of nothing. He's talking about the reaction of the American people to the failed policies of the Republican Party. With 20 percent approval, high profile defections and repeated electoral losses, Senator Graham is simply commenting on how no one likes the Republican Party. So, we're not too upset because I don't think there's any rule against looking critically at your own party while the President's abroad."