By By Bill Hoffmann and Kathleen Walte
CNN's Piers Morgan, who as a top tabloid newspaper editor in Britain for years had his reporters ask tough questions and write hard-hitting exposes, thinks the U.S. press has been too easy on the Obama administration.
"I would say actually they've been probably quite soft and could have gone harder. The financial crisis was inherited by the president, but he's been there long enough to try to work it out himself. Unemployment's still comfortably over 7 percent — really completely unacceptable," said Morgan, 48.
Morgan — host of "Piers Morgan Live" — is the author of the just-released book "Shooting Straight: Guns, Gays, God, and George Clooney," published by Gallery Books.
"Issues like Benghazi have exposed some of the limitations of his leading from behind on foreign policy and a lack of attention to detail in protecting the American ambassadors and serviceman around the world. There needs to be more clarity from the president about what he really stands for, what he really wants to achieve."
Morgan also says the United States is positioned to remain the great superpower it has been for years — but must now share the title and the responsibilities that come with it with other, fast-growing nations.
"I would never bet against America. America has been a great superpower and will continue to be a great superpower and one of the key players in the world. But unlike, say, 20 years ago, it's not the only superpower in town," Morgan told Newsmax TV.
"We have the emerging powers of China and India, Brazil — countries like this will get stronger economically and militarily, so America won't be the only superpower out there.
"And with that comes a shared responsibility, which is good that America won't have to be the sole global policeman that it's had to be before. I'm sure that Americans will be relieved about that," Morgan said.
"You've got to have a better-functioning political system. You can't have this dysfunction in Washington that means that nothing ever gets done," he said.
'Ever since I've been on air at CNN in three years, it's been one catastrophe and crisis after another down in D.C. and nothing ever seems to get resolved. Meanwhile, the national debt is $17 trillion, a third of which is owned by the Chinese."
Morgan's advice to lawmakers is to "stop the squabbling, come together and sort it out."
He said the same solution applies to the gun debate, which has pitted gun advocates and the National Rifle Association against the Obama administration and lawmakers who want further firearms restrictions.
"You have such incendiary, extreme positions on both sides but nothing ever gets resolved, and what you need is consensus," he said.
"You need old-fashioned politicians that can get in a room and start pump-thumping each other and get stuff done that actually suits the American national interest."
Morgan's book — a memoir about his career as a newsman and interviewer of some of the world's most powerful leaders, compelling newsmakers, and top celebrities — came about thanks to a detailed journal he kept after his start at CNN, where he replaced Larry King.
"[I wanted] to put people into my shoes, really, of anchoring a cable news show in America — and indeed around the world — on some of the biggest breaking-news nights that America's seen in a very long time, whether it was the death of Osama bin Laden, the Arab Spring, the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, right up to the financial crisis and of course the horrendous mass shootings that America's had."
One of the more defining moments of Morgan's time at CNN was his anti-gun stance in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.
But Morgan says he is not opposed to law-abiding citizens who carry firearms.
"There are already numerous restrictions on the kind of guns that Americans can have. My argument has not been against law-abiding Americans who want to have a handgun at home to protect themselves," he said.
"My main issue has been with the proliferation of mass shootings in America in the last six, seven years. There are many more than there used to be, the scale of them is much higher than it used to be, the ferocity is much worse.
"Sandy Hook and Aurora were two of the worst mass shootings in American history and came within a few months, and to me, it's unconscionable the way that America, this great superpower, a country that I love, full of people that I love, just turns a blind eye to this kind of atrocity, and the politicians in Washington simply do nothing about it to try to stop it from happening again."
Morgan said former first lady and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stands a good chance of capturing the White House should she become the Democratic nominee for president in 2016.
"She can be a very formidable candidate if she runs. I'm sure that she will. She's very impressive," he said.
"Because, if they can't, and they're still split come the next election, and we'll get a taste of this in the midterms, then I see no hope of success for Republicans. They've got to be united."
Morgan said his book will give people a taste of the world's most well-known names, both on- and off-camera.
As far as his favorite interview, it would be the Dalai Lama.
"There's a man who's 75, he looks 50, and one of the reasons may be he's never taken drugs, never smoked a cigarette, never had an alcoholic drink, never had sex, doesn't watch television, doesn't watch movies, doesn't listen to music," Morgan said.
"He just meditates and prays and that's about it, and he looks damn well on it. So, maybe the rest of us should take a lesson from the Dalai Lama: less self-abuse, more meditation."
Morgan said he has a slightly off-kilter question he enjoys throwing at his nightly guests: How many times have they properly been in love?
"It often engenders a really good reaction. Oprah Winfrey revealed that she'd been properly in love twice . . . two people had broken her heart. And one of them, she actually kept his love letters in a safe to this very day, which was fascinating," he said.
"But also, you can get a most surprising, if not ridiculous, response. So when I asked Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, when he was still ruling Iran, I said, how many times have you been properly in love, Mr. President? He looked at me and said, after a few seconds of contemplation, I am properly in love with the whole of humanity."
But when the question of love is turned on him by Newsmax, the twice-married Morgan isn't quite as forthright.
"Everyone asks me that question, and like a good British gentleman, I always tap-dance the answer away," he demurred.
"They know who they are, but I don't really want to embarrass, perhaps, some of the ladies in my past who maybe thought they were one, but weren't."
This post was modified from its original form on 19 Dec, 14:23
I am not sure if you meant for this to go up, too, Tara Jane, but it was quite interesting. Not at all what I expected from Piers Morgan. Is he starting to see the picture, too?