Sunday Chatter: GOP hold up ‘Obama-is-weak’ card; GOP angling
March 9th, 2014
04:10 PM ET
4 years ago

Sunday Chatter: GOP hold up ‘Obama-is-weak’ card; GOP angling

The Sunday political talk shows were stacked with Republicans, and most of them said President Barack Obama has repeatedly showed weakness in his foreign policy, bolstering Russian President Vladimir Putin’s resolve and agenda in Ukraine.

If you missed any of the Sunday political chatter, we've got you covered:

Obama is not weak: Tony Blinken, Obama’s deputy national security adviser, defended the President and his response to Putin’s advancement in the Crimean peninsula in Ukraine.

“With regard to Russia, in coordination with our allies, we've imposed significant sanctions on Russia, and that's already exerting a cost. We've seen Russian markets go down substantially, the ruble go down and investors sitting on the fence,” Blinken said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “Russia is paying a price for this.”

But Obama really is weak: But Republican adversaries aren’t buying it.

“The administration thought if we just act nice, everyone will act nice with us. That's not way that Putin and the Russian Federation sees the rest of the world,” Rep. Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said on ABC’s “This Week.”

On CBS News’ “Face the Nation,” Rep. Paul Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin and potential 2016 presidential candidate, criticized the United States’ “reset” policy with Russia as “wishful, naïve thinking” – a targeted jab at fellow potential presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who led that policy as secretary of state.

And former Vice President Dick Cheney, a foreign policy hawk, was the most pointed: “We have created an image around the world - not just for the Russians - of weakness, of indecisiveness,” he told CBS News’ “Face the Nation” guest host Charlie Rose.

Cheney said the world is “a safer, more stable place when the United States leads, when we have significant military capability, and when people know we will use it if necessary.”

“They no longer fear us,” he added.

“The Syrian situation is a classic - we got all ready to do something, but … at the last minute, Obama backed off.”

Syria is not Ukraine: When CNN’s Candy Crowley asked Blinken whether Putin sensed weakness after watching the United States deal with Syria, Blinken said the civil war in Syria and the United States’ policy there had no bearing on Ukraine.

“The notion that this is somehow a result of Syria makes very little sense to me. This is about Ukraine,” he said, adding that Obama and the United States are “doing the leading” against Putin.

Bob Gates, former defense secretary for both Obama’s and President George W. Bush’s administrations, defended the President on “Fox News Sunday.”

He said criticism of the President “ought to be toned down while he’s trying to handle the crisis,” Gates said.

Remember Georgia? Rogers, of Michigan, said Russia’s actions in Crimea are similar to what Russia did in Georgia in 2008.

“We’ve seen this story before, and when we didn’t react … we ended up buying into bigger trouble later, and I think that’s what you’re seeing happening,” he said.

Gates said President Bush didn’t receive the same criticism then as Obama is receiving now.

“My own view is, after all, Putin invaded Georgia when George W. Bush was President. Nobody ever accused George W. Bush of being weak or unwilling to use military force.”

Cheney addressed that, saying the Bush administration did respond to Russia’s invasion of Georgia.

“We did take some steps in terms of providing assistance to Georgia. We had ships in the region and so forth,” Cheney told Rose.

Two paths – for Russia and for the United States: Blinken laid out the Obama administration’s plan:

“What Putin is seeing is the President mobilizing the international community, both in support of Ukraine and isolate Russia for its actions in Ukraine,” Blinken said. He added that Russia has a choice to make: continue to push forward in Ukraine and face economic repercussions, or retreat.

“The President made it very clear in announcing our sanctions, as did the Europeans the other day, that this was a first step,” Blinken said.

But some Republicans outline a different path for Obama to take.

Cheney said the ballistic missile defense system in the Czech Republic and Poland should be put back on the table. He also said the United States should conduct joint military training exercises in Poland and provide equipment and training to the Ukrainian military.

Oil and natural gas: Republicans, who have been pushing the Obama administration to expand domestic oil and natural gas production, read from similar scripts Sunday, saying American energy production is critical to minimizing Putin’s international influence.

Ryan: “We're a nation with vast energy reserve and potential but with a government that's seen as hostile toward developing those energy reserves. If our government changed its tune on that, if we told Europe we are going to green light the languishing permit applications for exporting natural gas to Europe, that could do a lot to send signals that we're intent on loosening Russia's grip on its energy to Europe.”

Rep. Peter King of New York on NBC’s “Meet the Press”: “We have to increase exports of liquefied natural gas. These countries like England and others and Germany cannot be forced to rely on Russia. … The natural gas - we have enough to supply so many countries in the world. And we should right now start lifting restrictions. We should begin exporting as quickly as we can.”

Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky on “Fox News Sunday”: I “would immediately get every obstacle out of the way for our export of oil and gas, and I would begin drilling in every possible conceivable place within our territories in order to have production that we could supply Europe with if it's interrupted from Ukraine.”

Cheney: “Energy is also a weakness for Russia. They depend on Petroleum for 50% of their GDP. Price of oil drops a few dollars, they go into recession.”

Rand Paul is not weak, either: Paul pushed back on criticism from fellow Republicans that he is an isolationist, saying those who criticize him do so for “their own person political gain.”

<> on March 7, 2014 in National Harbor, Maryland.

Paul recently said the United States needs to have a “respectful - sometimes adversarial but a respectful – relationship.”

“In fact, what Ronald Reagan said in about one sentence sums up a lot of what I believe. He said to our potential adversary, ‘Don't mistake our reluctance for war for a lack of resolve,’” Paul said.

Now for some politics: The annual Conservative Political Action Conference wrapped up Sunday with Sarah Palin reading a parody of Dr. Seuss’ children’s book “Green Eggs and Ham.”

But the real headline- grabbers from the conference were the nearly dozen possible 2016 presidential contenders who addressed the activist crowd and the fact that Paul was the overwhelming winner of the straw poll.

As Paul put it, CPAC is a friendly crowd because it is “chock full of young people” who share his concern over privacy rights even though he is also reaching out to Attorney General Eric Holder to repeal felon voting bans.

“I don't mind saying that I agree with the President or Eric Holder on this because I think the people who know me know that I will stand up to the President when he's wrong, which I think is quite a bit of the time,” he said.

Paul joked that at a friendly lunch to talk about felon voting, Paul said to Holder, "I'll see you in court," referring to his suit against he Obama administration's surveillance program.

His statements are a contrast to those of fellow Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, who has been a major pain to many of his colleagues because he doesn’t play by the rules and holds little regard for taking one for the team.

Cruz told the CPAC crowd that Republicans who “don't stand and draw a clear distinction” or don’t stand for principle don’t win.

Ryan said Republican Party disagreements aren’t a civil war but rather show that the party has a “big tent.”

“I think we're a party with a vibrant debate adding ideas, solving problems. We're going to be OK,” he said.

The new Democrat has some words for the old Democrats: Former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, who is running to win his job back - this time as a Democrat - had loads of praise for Obama.

He said Obama has “a compassionate heart,” is “leading well” and that Democrats need to “support him.”

“God bless him,” Crist said about Obama twice during the interview on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

As for the endangered Democrats up for re-election who are running from the Affordable Care Act, Crist said they need to “strengthen up.”

The kicker: Ryan and Paul both enlightened us one more time about their plans for a 2016 presidential run. They both are considering.

Ryan also said House Speaker John Boehner is “controversial but doing a very good job.” But Ryan has no interest in taking on one of the most difficult jobs in Washington.

Filed under: Dick Cheney • Obama administration • Paul Ryan • Rand Paul • Russia • Ted Cruz • Ukraine • Uncategorized • Vladimir Putin
soundoff (510 Responses)
  1. rtrauben

    The republican response is so predictable and tired. I wonder why the media continues
    to give them air. Our foreign policy should be off limits when it comes to political football.
    We elect a President to set foreign policy, not John McCain, Linsey Graham, Peter King
    or Rand Paul. Multiple voices hurts our common interests. Since when does pure partisan
    bulllying influence any President?

    March 9, 2014 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  2. Devon

    I don't know about weak. But definitely incompetent.

    March 9, 2014 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  3. Steve

    Republicans criticize but don't offer solutions. Does anyone take them seriously? What is the US moral high ground worth after Iraq?

    March 9, 2014 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  4. Donnie the Lion

    The GOP: undermining America's greatness since 1968.

    March 9, 2014 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  5. Maria Rivera-Carvalho

    Chicken hawks have no perspective. Their crass ignorance prevents them from understanding the devastating effects of brute, macho actions a la Dubya/Cheney/Rice. An intelligent, measured and logical statesman like President Obama simply unsettles their little minds.

    March 9, 2014 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  6. LARS

    Just for the record, and for those who are of the opinion that President Obama "gives a flip" about what deceitful GOP spokes persons on TV are saying about him and his leadership style and ability...just keep on wishing!!!

    Real leaders, such as the President, know full well that naysayers come "a dime a dozen", and that they are only interested in confusing the voting electorate all while hoping that voters, in spite of their lies, will vote for them.

    March 9, 2014 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  7. Shannon H.

    The Obama administration foreign policy with Russia was called the Russian Reset. It was supposedly one of Hillary Clinton's big accomplishments as Secretary of State. Well, it appears this reset was total farce, a disaster and a green light for Putin to do whatever he wanted as Obama slaps Russian PMs on the knee and tells them he can be more flexible after his re-election. Everything Obama has done over 5 years has signaled weakness and indecision. Now he wants to gut the military as all leftists and Democrats do once in office.

    March 9, 2014 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  8. blakenaustin

    Wake up CNN, it isn't just foreign policy where Obama is weak. Even though Obama's foreign policy is weak, he is far weaker with social policy and fiscal policy. Plus the man has no character. He is a compulsive liar, deceiver, blamer. He is incompetent and irresponsible on so many levels. Sadly he has no regard for the U.S. constitution and the rule of law. And he has surrounded himself with lieutenants that are far too much like he is. How in the world did this man become president ... twice? Largely because the far left media was complicit in pulling the wool over the eyes of tens of millions naive and entitlement voters.

    March 9, 2014 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  9. John

    Some facts not obvious in this article: The Russian war with Georgia was around August 2008, about 6 months before Obama took over. When Obama took over, he promptly canceled the Polish radar stations without getting anything from Russia in return. That was one of Obama's first signs of weakness with the Russians.

    March 9, 2014 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  10. lmori

    Why is everything a "card" now?

    March 9, 2014 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  11. Mr. Balls

    Bush looked into Putin's heart and declared he was a good man. So what did Bush and Dead-Eye Dick do when Russia invaded Georgia in 2008? NOTHING!

    March 9, 2014 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  12. ScottC

    Naive, amateur, outmatched, idealistic, unrealistic. These are what the rest of the world thinks of Obama.

    March 9, 2014 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  13. ScottC

    Junk president

    March 9, 2014 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  14. DocHollywood

    This is how far the republican party has deteriorated. They now publicly degrade their president during a crisis and actively promote Putin, almost gushing over him. They actually think a man who acts rashly and irresponsibly is a strong leader, and a man who considers his actions and options is a weak one. I used to admire the republican party when I was a younger man. I would never consider voting for any of them now. Their party stands for obstruction, denial, suppression of voters, women and minorities. They have become an embarrassment to our nation.

    March 9, 2014 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  15. Daniel Mesohony

    Funny. Three weeks ago he was a ruthless dictator.

    March 9, 2014 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  16. DH


    Maybe the GOP should ask bin laden what he thinks?!!!!!!!!

    March 9, 2014 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  17. Kenman

    So, Ms Caldwell, Dick Cheney used the work "weak" and all of you on the network used it in conversations with the President's front men, and you assign it to the GOP!?

    What typical liberal hypocrisy! But, on the other hand, I WILL admit to thinking that we are in a lot of the mess that we're in because is Obama is a weak character, and totally over his head in a job he was never qualified for and shouldn't have been so full of himself to think so AND should NOT have been considered by a genuinely conscientious Democrat Party!

    AND, would NOT have been elected if he were not black, and had the liberal media in the tank for him, over and above the consideration of the nation or their right to know all they should have known.

    March 9, 2014 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  18. Robert Schoales

    All these stupid neo-cons banging the drums of war. What do they care they have no skin in the game. Issue these hawks uniforms and send them over on the front line.

    March 9, 2014 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  19. Greg

    The US war profiteers have been cut off from their main food supply since the end of the Cheney Administration and they'll say anything to get that gravy train rolling again.

    March 9, 2014 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  20. JM

    The GOP are so incredibly stupid, delusional and clueless. No wonder fools admire them.

    March 9, 2014 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  21. JohnSmith

    Doesn't mean much from a party that's moving forward with a candidate who 4 four ago was considered unelectable. The GOP needs to spend less time making baseless comments and more time on reforming it's own broken party.

    Forget about 2014. They should be working on 2020.

    March 9, 2014 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  22. AJinFLA

    Republicans need to be clear on their stance. Since "Obama is weak", which GOPers would have gone to war already? We need to know this, so we know NOT to vote for them.

    March 9, 2014 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  23. RoseSelavy

    Yes, I remember when Bush & Cheney showed Putin what it looks like to be strong – when they stopped Putin's invasion of Georgia. Oh, wait...

    March 9, 2014 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  24. Gregory

    Since when has Cheney been right about anything? And based on his track record, why is his opinion being sought?

    March 9, 2014 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  25. Bobber

    Great telling the world how weak your president is... The world has no idea what our contingency plans are. So shut up already. But then again, the other side used to tell the world how dumb our president was.

    March 9, 2014 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
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