- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 13, 2011

Republican leaders on Sunday talk shows split their verdict on President Obama’s response to the Egyptian revolution, which uprooted longtime U.S. ally Hosni Mubarak and ended with a military council promising a transition to democracy.

“I think they’ve handled what is a very difficult situation about as well as it could be handled,” said House Speaker John A. Boehner on NBC’s “Meet The Press.”

Sen. John McCain of Arizona echoed those remarks.

“I think the president has handled this situation well,” he said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

Two 2012 GOP presidential hopefuls, however, spoke more critically on ABC’s “This Week.”

“Before his administration spoke like a Tower of Babel, with multiple voices saying multiple things. They should have had one message that was clear and consistent and measured and appropriate,” said former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said that while it was appropriate to ease out the Egyptian president, the administration should have been more diplomatic.

“You do it quietly, because every other potential ally in the world is watching you; and if they see you publicly abandon somebody who’s been with you for 30 years, they wonder, ‘Why should I trust the United States?’ ” Mr. Gingrich said.

Conservative columnist George Will, a regular panelist on “This Week,” defended the administration against criticism last week from the right.

“These conservatives have a kind of bifurcated mind,” he said. “They say, ‘at home,’ rightly, ‘the government exaggerates its competence, its ability to manage a conflicted society.’ Then overseas, they fault the government for not fine-tuning an extraordinarily fluid event. The administration has not gotten ahead of events because no one knows where the events are heading.”

Some, including Mr. Gingrich, spoke of the need to prevent Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood from usurping a democratic revolution. Leaders of the Islamist group have insisted in recent days they are committed to a democratic state, but the group has sent mixed signals regarding its commitment to continued diplomatic ties with Israel.

Mr. McCain said he was “very concerned about a lot of the behavior of the Muslim Brotherhood and a lot of the positions they’ve taken, including their failure to recognize Israel’s right to exist.” He noted that Egypt under Mr. Mubarak had been “incredibly important in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process” for decades.

“I think the Israelis have reasons for concern,” he added. “Whatever government is going to come into power is not going to have the close relationship that they had with Mubarak.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, said the United States will “stand by Israel without equivocation” as Egypt transitions to a new government.

Mr. Graham, appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union,” warned that the transition will “define Egypt and the region for decades.”

“A rushed election could help organizations like the Muslim Brotherhood,” he said.

Sameh Shoukry, Egypt’s ambassador to the United States, stressed his country’s commitment to the 1978 Camp David peace accords with Israel, as he appeared on both “This Week” and “Face The Nation.”

• Ben Birnbaum can be reached at 138247@example.com.

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