This administration, I mean, you've generally gotten high marks. You've
generally gotten very high marks, particularly from the voters for your
handling of foreign policy. But there's no big, singular achievement
that -- in the first four years -- that you can put your names on. What do
you think the biggest success has been, foreign policy success, of the
That's the quintessential Kroft question. Fawning praise, followed by an observation that seems as if it's a transition to a tough question, but actually segues to, So, what's the best thing you've done?
Then Kroft deftly asks a probing question about the costs of focusing so much of our foreign policy attention on the Middle East and North Africa at a time when historic rivals like China and Russia -- ha, just kidding. His next question actually just obsessed about the politics of Election 2016:
What's the, I have to ask you, what's the date of expiration on this endorsement? No, no, I have to ask that question. I mean, come on. You're -- I mean,
you're sitting here together. Everybody in town is talking about it
already and the inter -- and this is -- it's taking place.
Lucky he asked. If there's one thing that benefited voters and democracy in the 2012 cycle it's the speculative questions about political alliances that the political press preemptively asked circa 2009.
You'd think the next subject, the Libya hearings, would be fertile ground for a tough question. Here's how Kroft kicked it off:
I want to talk about the hearings this week. You had a very long day. Also, how is your health?
That's a dozen questions so far with the president of the United States and the secretary of state. The interview that 60 Minutes broadcast included 14 total questions. Thankfully, the last two questions were tougher than everything that came before them, though you shouldn't expect too much.
Here's question 13:
You said during the hearings, I mean, you've accepted responsibility.
You've accepted the very critical findings of Admiral Mullen and
Ambassador Pickering. As the New York Times put it, you
accepted responsibility, but not blame. Do you feel guilty in any way,
in- at a personal level? Do you blame yourself that you didn't know or
that you should have known?
In other words, Some other people pressed you in a way I haven't to grapple with your responsibility for events abroad. I'll now repeat your answer to them and ask how you feel about it. I won't ask you, "Should you have known diplomatic staff was in danger?" or "Why didn't you know more?" I'll ask, "Do you blame yourself?" for whatever it is that you knew or didn't know.
Finally, question 14:
The biggest criticism of this team in the U.S. foreign policy from your
political opposition has been what they say is an abdication of the
United States on the world stage, sort of a reluctance to become
involved in another entanglement, an unwillingness or what seems/appears
to be an unwillingness to gauge big issues.
Syria, for example.
So there you have it.