John Feehery: Speaking Engagements

President Obama Avoids Eye Contact During Speech on Iran [Don’t Trust But Verify]

Posted on November 25, 2013
President Obama Nuclear Speech

President Obama Didn't Make Eye Contact During Iran Nuclear Speech



I was at a cocktail party on Saturday night, so I missed the President’s speech on the Iran deal.

My good friend and colleague, Adam Belmar, got a chance to watch it and he said the optics were terrible.  Belmar is an optics expert, having done it for the ABC News and for the Bush White House, and he knows when a picture looks bad.

Apparently, the President didn’t look into the camera as he talked about the new deal with Iranians and when somebody doesn’t look you in the eye as you are reaching an agreement, that kind of raises some red flags.   Or it should.

I am not one of those people who is hell bent on getting into a war with Iran over its nuclear program.   I think America is war-weary and broke and we have better stuff to do with our time and energy than getting into another armed conflict with the Persian regime.

That being said, in constructing deals like this, you have to be able to establish trust, not only with the one you are making the deal with, but also with your allies who impacted by the deal.

The problem for President Obama is that there isn’t much trust there.

The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu doesn’t trust the President and he has come out strongly against the deal.

The Saudi government has lost trust with the President, especially after he reversed course on Syria, and they are lukewarm (at best) on the deal.

Our other allies in the region are similarly concerned about a nuclear Iran and worried that President Obama won’t do anything about it.

Eric Cantor had a pretty good line about the agreement:  “Don’t trust and verify.”  He was talking about the Iranians, but he could have easily been talking about the President.

Republicans clearly don’t trust him on a variety of issues.

They don’t trust him on immigration.  They don’t trust him on Obamacare.  They don’t trust him spending.  They don’t trust him when he says that you can keep your health care plan if you want it.

They just don’t trust him.

And that is a problem as he tries to sell this agreement with Iranian government, which could meet a similar fate as the deal struck by Woodrow Wilson at the conclusion of the First World War.