Ari Fleischer: Obama Speech Too "Balanced"

(AP)
Former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, who served under George W. Bush, has doubts about how realistic the rhetoric was that President Obama laid out in his Cairo speech this morning.

"I thought it was a great speech – on paper. The problem is reality," Fleischer told CBS News' Mark Knoller.

Fleischer bluntly told 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."

The Bush press secretary said that the president is not taking into consideration the causes for recent violence in Israel.

"For instance, Obama said, 'the continuing humanitarian crisis in Gaza does not serve Israel's security,'" Fleischer told Knoller, "[yet] he failed to note that Israel pulled out of Gaza and it's the behavior of the Palestinians and Hamas that created the humanitarian crisis there."

"The other greater reality is rocket fire," he continued. "In exchange for withdrawal, Israel received daily rocket fire. Speeches serve useful purposes, but if you're on the receiving end of rocket fire, security comes before rhetoric. That's why the first step toward peace has to be the cessation of terrorist attacks; otherwise Israel will of course do whatever is necessary to defend herself. America would do the same."

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."

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