Week In Review With Juan Williams This week, President Obama reached out to the Muslim world in Cairo; General Motors filed for bankruptcy and American taxpayers got a stake in the company and Judge Sonia Sotomayor made the rounds on Capitol Hill.
NPR logo

Week In Review With Juan Williams

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/105064971/105064952" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Week In Review With Juan Williams

Week In Review With Juan Williams

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/105064971/105064952" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, Host:

Juan, thanks very much for being with us.

JUAN WILLIAMS: Good morning, Scott.

SIMON: Let's begin with the president in France today. He's just finished delivering his speech about the sacrifice D-Day veterans made 65 years ago. But before those ceremonies, he really did direct some tough remarks towards North Korea during a news conference, where he said - almost this bluntly - I only have so much patience. Quote: "Diplomacy has to involve the other side in engaging in a serious way, and we have not seen that reaction from North Korea." What do you read into those remarks?

WILLIAMS: I think that the president's patience is coming to an end with North Korea. What we saw a week ago was that there was a clear sense that North Korea was going ahead in terms of trying to acquire nuclear weaponry and the missile capacity to deliver it. And now I think President Obama, with China - and that's the key here, China - saying they too have had enough, is holding out the proposition that maybe it's time to take action. And that is really a game- changer, Scott. And what we're talking about here is not adding to the 28,000 or so American military on the ground in South Korea, but some action that would take out some of the missile and nuclear facilities in North Korea.

SIMON: We'll keep an eye on that. Of course we want to ask about the extraordinary scene of a U.S. president speaking in Cairo this week. Now, of that crowd in Cairo, I think it's safe to say President Obama had them at Assalamu alaikum.

WILLIAMS: So a tremendous moment there, and one, you know, I think lots of potential for criticism here at home in terms of the Jewish community questioning his fidelity to Israel. But the White House has taken steps to try to hold that down, and for the moment what's key here is the president insisting that now is the time for making progress in the Israeli-Palestinian tension.

SIMON: When the glow in the Arab world has worn off, is there potential for movement on either side? Can we see any of that this week?

WILLIAMS: I think there is potential for movement, and of course the key here is follow-up, and I think that would be the downside people who want to criticize the president's speech would say, where's the action? Well, next week the president's Middle East envoy, George Mitchell, is going to the region. And part of the pressure, of course, is going to be on the moderate Arab states to start to build some relationship with Israel, to end Israel's isolation. So we're talking about trade agreements...

SIMON: The president said this week, you guys here in the Arab world can't blame everything on Israel.

WILLIAMS: Exactly right. And so that's the other side of it. And he's putting pressure now, of course, all the money that U.S. aide flows into that region, he's in position to say, you know what, I'm going to pay attention to this and we want action now.

SIMON: While the president was in the Middle East, another tape allegedly recorded by Osama bin Laden was released. What was (unintelligible) would you guess?

WILLIAMS: Now, according to people in the Intelligence community, CIA and the like, what they know is that this tape was way before the president arrived in the Middle East. And they think it was made around the time that American forces began, and Pakistani forces, I should say, began to put pressure in the Swat Valley, and therefore more pressure on what was happening with al-Qaida. So they feel that there's added pressure. And so what Osama bin Laden is saying is that the U.S., for all of the talk coming from President Obama, is still creating stress and pressure on Muslims, especially in Pakistan, look at the reality, and saying that Barack Obama, this president, is no different than his predecessors, in specific George W. Bush.

SIMON: Juan, you and I are part owners of a car company this week. Congratulations, partner.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SIMON: I must say, I'm a little surprised by how car dealers have become preeminent in this situation now.

WILLIAMS: Me too. I'm struck by the conversation on Capitol Hill this week. You know, we've seen closing of auto plants, but this week all the talk was about what's going on with your local car dealership. People that you may know from the commercials in which they are such loud, often times comic caricatures of themselves, but people who also, as you pointed out to me this week in a conversation, are people who sponsor the Little League team.

SIMON: Yeah.

WILLIAMS: People who give jobs to kids during the summer and people who have needs for their cars to be washed and all, that people in Congress are saying, well, why does my car dealership have to be closed? And I think there's sort of a groundswell, almost as if we think in terms of GM, Chrysler, and the like as American icons; much of it is represented by the local dealership.

SIMON: Judge Sotomayor began making the rounds on Capitol Hill. Did she leave a generally good impression?

WILLIAMS: She did. And of course you saw this week that Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich went back on calling her a racist. Limbaugh says if she can be opposed to abortion in the country, he might even support her. And Gingrich said he was just rash in calling her a racist. But I think what you're seeing now is members of the Republican Party feeling that they really have gone too far and may have damaged themselves with Hispanic voters.

SIMON: NPR News analyst Juan Williams, thanks very much for being with us.

WILLIAMS: You're welcome, Scott.

Copyright © 2009 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.