Dan Rather: ‘Obama Can Be Rolled for His Wallet and His Watch’

By Fred Lucas | December 17, 2012 | 10:09 AM EST

FILE - In this Feb. 23, 2011, file photo President Barack Obama, with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton at right, speaks about Libya in the Grand Foyer of the White House in Washington.(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

(CNSNews.com) – Former CBS News anchor Dan Rather said President Barack Obama looked weak for allowing United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice to step aside from being nominated for Secretary of State.

“He should have said she’s my nominee, let’s take it to a vote. Because what has happened today plays into the perception, the perception that’s been growing among the Republicans that in street language, President Obama can be rolled for his wallet and his watch,” Rather said during an interview on the Rachel Maddow show on MSNBC. “He’s not a guy who’s going to put up much of a fight, even when he feels strongly about it, even when he has a strong emotional and loyalty quotient, won’t fight for it.”

Obama never formally nominated Rice to replace outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. However, most reports indicated he was likely to do so. Rice appeared on five Sunday news programs and gave misleading information about the terrorist attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya.

Rather continued, “For me, personally, I think it’s a little early to make that judgment. But that perception is out there. And what happened today plays right into that perception. Another way of – you’ve heard it said, President Obama plays soft, he’s too soft.

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“In the early stages of his first term, that was more understandable, and I think more acceptable by more people, saying, well, look, he’s come to Washington, wants to get along, nice guy, feels he wants to take the toxicity out of it. But he learned very quickly that the Republicans had a whole other strategy, which was fight them trench by trench; fight them hand to hand if necessary.”

“Now, the message out of President Obama’s news conference appearance was, listen, this woman is qualified, and I will stick with her to hell and back, until hell freezes over, and help her cut through the ice. That’s the impression he gave. But that’s not the way he played it out,” Rather said.

During the interview on MSNBC, Rather suggested that Obama should have been firmer.

“He indicated in his press conference just after the election, he made a lot of tough talk, didn't back it up," Rather said. “So there are people who say, ‘Listen, the kind of leader we want is one who will fight to the finish, never give in.’ On the other hand, one could make the case that President Obama has said to himself, yes, I could probably force this to a vote, and win the vote. But it would cost me down the road. But I think it raises very, very serious questions about what the president's second term is going to be.”

Rather went on to say, “Talk is cheap. It's what you do that counts.”