Chris Wallace to Obama on Libya: Stop saying ‘unacceptable’ if you’re not going to do anything about it

During a White House address on Wednesday, President Barack Obama alongside Secretary of State Hillary Clinton denounced the violence in Libya as “outrageous” and “unacceptable.” But what does that mean?

According to “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace, Obama’s words are ringing hollow and he advised the president to change his tone unless he was going to back up those words with actions. In an appearance on the Fox Business Network’s “Imus in the Morning” program, Wallace explained that Obama had to be measured in his response, but the use of the word “unacceptable” was meaningless if he is going to accept Muammar Qaddafi’s actions.

“Well, all hell is breaking loose and I just want to say one thing about President Obama and I understand that it’s awfully hard to calibrate this and when you’ve got what certainly seems to be a madman in charge of the country, you don’t want to do something to set him off and cause him to do something else crazy and barbaric,” Wallace said. “But one of the things, words that the president or speech writers ought to take out of this lexicon is ‘unacceptable.’ Yesterday, he said the events in Libya are unacceptable. He’s going to accept them. What does unacceptable mean? Unacceptable would mean I’m not going to accept it, but he’s not going to do anything about it. It’s like what he said about Korea or Iran, it’s unacceptable.”

According to Wallace – without action, it paints the president in an unflattering light.

“It makes you look impotent,” Wallace said.


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Host Don Imus wondered if Obama’s reaction to Libya was  “measured” or, as some Fox News personalities have suggested, wimpy. Wallace explained it was measured, leaning toward wimpy and questioned why Obama hasn’t moved more elements of the U.S. Navy into the Mediterranean.

“I think it’s a little bit to the wimpy side of measured,” Wallace said. “As I say, I understand that it’s — you don’t want to say something that sets him off. In addition to which, apparently those five or six hundred people on that ferry, because of high winds in the Mediterranean, high seas haven’t been able to escape yet and you certainly don’t want to have 500 hostages in Libya, talk about you know taking a bad problem and making it even worse — but on the other hand, one of the things that– one of the Fox opinion people pointed out and I do think it’s right, we’ve got all of these carriers all over the world, aircraft carriers, why wouldn’t we want to put an aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean, just as a show of force, just as a show of at a certain point we’re not going to take it anymore and also to give some muscle to the threat that we’re going to establish a no-fly zone so we won’t allow the Libyan jet fighters to fire on their own people? I mean, it’s been what, over a month, I think, since, since Tunisia. Wouldn’t you think at some point we would have said to the Pentagon, hey, let’s put a carrier in the Mediterranean?”