Newt Gingrich: Obama's National Security Speech Was 'Astonishingly Naïve'

05/28/2013 02:19 pm ET
AP

Former House Speaker and one-time presidential candidate Newt Gingrich did not mince words on Tuesday when asked to critique President Barack Obama's counterterrorism speech from last week.

"I thought the president's speech was astonishingly naïve and a sign that he hasn't read much history," Gingrich told Laura Ingraham on her radio show.

"[Obama] wants to somehow rise above the big government scandals that are gradually drowning his administration," he added. "He wants to look like he's forward looking, engaged, etcetera ... But the truth is, what he announced and explained was almost meaningless."

Obama's speech, which addressed contentious national security policies such as the use of drones and indefinite detention, has been reviled by war hawks. In a statement released last week, Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) said Obama's speech "will be viewed by terrorists as a victory."

Appearing on ABC’s "This Week" on Sunday, Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) said the overtones of "moral anguish" in Obama's speech "offended" him.

"I have been to Guantanamo. It's a model prison," King went on to say of the president's call to close the facility. "Is it ideal? No. But we live in a very un-ideal world."

And Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told "Fox News Sunday" this week that the president's speech showed "a lack of resolve," adding, "What do you think the Iranians are thinking? At the end of the day, this is the most tone-deaf president I ever could imagine, making such a speech at a time when our homeland is trying to be attacked literally every day."

Gingrich on Tuesday said that he viewed Obama's speech as part of a political calculus to regain the support of the left wing of the Democratic Party.

"If you look at what the Justice Department has been doing to the news media, it has to make the ACLU liberals very, very uncomfortable," Gingrich said. "If you look at the fact Guantanamo is still open, that makes the anti-war leftists, who nominated Obama over Hillary Clinton, very uncomfortable. And if he now moves on the [Keystone XL] pipeline, that makes the environmentalists very uncomfortable. So there is a point here where he runs a risk of a sort of critical mass of his left wing rising in rebellion, and then he would have a problem."

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