Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty slammed the Obama administration's response to protests in Egypt over the last two and half weeks. He compared the White House response to the "Tower of Babel" and said the mixed messages added up to something "nearly incoherent."
"This Week" anchor Christiane Amanpour asked the Republican, a potential candidate for President in 2012, what he would have done at the beginning of the crisis.
"First of all," Pawlenty replied, "before [Obama's] 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. Instead you had the President, the Vice President, the Secretary of State, the national intelligence director going off in different directions, saying nearly incoherent things, at least inconsistent things," Pawlenty said.
"It's really important the United States of America speak with one voice. So, first of all, get your own team on the same page. That's lesson number one in a crisis: communicate clearly. Number two: we have to articulate, when we have that kind of an uncertain crisis unfolding, what our principles are," the former governor said. "One, we don't want a radical Islamic result. Two, we favor democracy. And President Mubarak and Suleiman or anyone else who may be purporting to be leading the nation needs to embrace those principles."
Pawlenty criticized the President's statements on the Muslim Brotherhood."When President Obama was asked the other night…directly in an interview right before the Super Bowl, do you think the Muslim Brotherhood should be running Egypt, he wouldn't answer the question. They asked him two or three times and the President of the United States ducked the question whether he thought it was a good or a bad idea whether the Muslim Brotherhood should be running Egypt," Pawlenty said, referring to an interview with Bill O'Reilly on the Fox network.
"I'm telling you," Pawlenty told Amanpour, "it's a bad idea and we need to do whatever we can to minimize the likelihood of that outcome."
On Fox, O'Reilly asked the President if the Brotherhood was a threat to the United States.
"I think that the Muslim Brotherhood is one faction in Egypt. They don't have majority support in Egypt. They are –"
O'Reilly interrupted. "Are they a threat?" he asked again.
"There are strains of their ideology that are anti-U.S. There's no doubt about it," Obama said.
"But you don't want the Muslim Brotherhood," O'Reilly tried again.
"What I want is a representative government in Egypt. And I have confidence that if Egypt moves in an orderly transition process, that we'll have a government in Egypt that we can work with together as a partner," the President said.
Pawlenty said that he hoped the military, now in control of the country, would embrace free, democratic elections. The military is "certainly one of the highest functioning institutions in that country and now we need to see if the trust and confidence that people have in them holds true," he said.
"One of the things we're going to be looking for as a first measure is what is the process and what are the rules that they're going to use to move towards elections. And also, are they willing to amend that constitution in ways that support in a permanent, reliable way a democracy," Pawlenty added.