Ari Fleischer: Gates' Tell-All Book A 'Betrayal' for Obama, Hillary

Thursday, 09 Jan 2014 06:49 PM

By Bill Hoffmann

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Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates betrayed both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton by revealing in his new memoir, "Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War," that both privately admitted they opposed troop surges in Iraq for political reasons, says Ari Fleischer, former White House spokesman for George W. Bush.

"There's a sense of betrayal. I just don't like the fact that anybody who is privy to a private conversation in the Oval Office … goes and repeats in public a private conversation that he heard," Fleischer told "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.

"I'm old-fashioned. You're fortunate to be put in the Oval Office by the boss who put you there and you don't go around and disclose private conversations like that.''

Fleischer says there are other, more discreet, ways Gates could have disclosed the information.

"He could've, if he wanted to, said 'I always suspected Hillary's opposition was political' ... He could've done all of that without giving the verbatim quote," Fleischer said.

Story continues below the video.



"That is a serious accusation. [Clinton] is going to have to deal with it. It does fit the pattern of Hillary making decisions based on politics.

"But, again, I just don't think it's good for the office of the presidency if presidents have to wonder if every single conversation they have, even with just two people in the Oval Office, is going to turn into fodder for someone's future book. Not helpful for the country."

Fleischer, now founder of Fleischer Sports, weighed in on the bridge-gate scandal surrounding Chris Christie, saying he believes the New Jersey governor got a good handle on it during the nearly two-hour press conference he held on Thursday.

"Regardless of ideology or what you think of Chris Christie or anything about the future of the Republican primary, there's a whole lot less 'gate' in bridge-gate right now than there was when we woke up this morning," Fleischer said.

"He has really largely taken responsibility and owned up to things and acting like a leader's supposed to act ... I don't know him all that well but I found what he said today to be very believable and convincing.

"He just looked contrite, he looked genuine, he was his normal, blunt self and I can't imagine anybody going that far and saying the things he said if he wasn't confident that what he was saying was exactly as it is."

During the press conference, Christie said he felt betrayed by staffers who orchestrated a traffic-clogging lane closure at the George Washington Bridge last September that clogged traffic around Fort Lee for days.

Emails revealed the staffers called for the closure as political payback after Fort Lee's Democratic mayor declined to endorse Christie's reelection campaign.

Fleischer wasn't impressed that Christie kept repeating to reporters on Thursday that he was not a political bully, a long held perception about him.

"You know that's the type of thing tabloids just run with and they love the reformulation of the negative, they can slap it into a headline," he said.

"You don't put something in a negative phraseology. You say I'm tough, I'm direct, I'm blunt, I expect action. You say what you are. You don't say what you're not because that then becomes used against you on a sound bite on TV."

Fleischer compared Christie's press conference to those of Democrats who faced scandals.

"Compare this to [former Vice President] Al Gore when Al Gore got in trouble with the fundraising at a Buddhist temple and he [got] to the White House podium and he said there's no controlling legal authority. Or former President Clinton, when he got in trouble [in the Monica Lewinsky scandal], he just flat out lied under oath," Fleischer said.

"And what did Chris Christie do? Chris Christie took responsibility, apologized in a way that was credible and humble, and fired people. There's a difference."

Fleischer believes bridge-gate will not be a significant issue in a Republican presidential primary, but will become fodder during the general election should Christie be tapped as the GOP candidate.

"Whether it's Hillary [Clinton] or a Super PAC doing it on her behalf or a third party that's Democrat, it will come back," Fleischer said.

"That is what general elections involve and he's going to be accused of intimidation and you'll see the usual montage of things that he's done and said and it will fit a pattern of 'Chris Christie: can you trust him in the Oval Office'?

"So this issue's not done with in that sense, but it certainly is not a political scandal of anything involving his ethics. But it's going to be, in the political universe, something that does return."

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