Sunday Chatter: GOP hold up ‘Obama-is-weak’ card; GOP angling
March 9th, 2014
04:10 PM ET
6 months 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. wotudezerv

    obama is weak. palin is strong. gingrich is strong. what's his name mccain is strong. paul is strong. bachmann is strong.

    yeah, right. those antiamerican fascist phoneys are so strong they can't hold an opinion worth knowing, can't calculate risk factors, and sure as heck could never be one third the president obama is. one major reason, they are morally, intellectually, and spiritually weak, and, they are agenda driven ie controlled by the holier than thou fascists in the christian right.

    give me obama any day. he is true red white and blue in case you want to know his color.

    March 9, 2014 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  2. Dee Wan

    Every time the GOP says Obama is weak they are suggesting he take steps to start a war. Any time a Democrat enters an international fracas the GOP says the Democrats are reckless. Got anything new GOP?
    I don't see our President as weak, I see him as thoughtful and deliberate – something the right has never understood.

    March 9, 2014 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  3. Ned

    The GOP attacking The President during an International problem with the Ukraine is a disservice to the Country, than it is to The President. And the idea that the US should be supplying Europe with our energy resources and suggesting we bypass rules that protect our water and other natural resources is irresponsible to public safety, as well putting a strain to American resources, not worth the "reward" – like Iraq was, when Bush and Cheney decided to allocate resources from Afghanistan for their "Wild Goose Chase".

    March 9, 2014 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  4. nella

    It's funny how the press keeps referring to Putin's invasion when Bush was president. But none of the press ever mention that the invasion took place (strategically) 3 months before the end of an 8 year run. In other words, it took place during the lamest duck moment with an election on the immediate horizon -> not to mention, when the press had Obama already elected. (Thus Putin knew he would be dealing with BHO and not W nor McCain)
    Furthermore, the press never mentions that when Putin invaded Georgia, it was Sarah Palin who cautioned Obama on his flimsy response. It was Palin who warned him that he was sending ominous signals against Ukraine.
    Nevertheless, Obama used a formal presidential debate in 2012 to sneer at Romney, "the 80s are calling, they want their foreign policy back."
    Did Obama not remember 2008??
    Did he not remember Palin's warning?
    Did he even listen to it - other than in the context of a political campaign?
    Did he think that 1980 was the last time the former director of the KGB had been a problem?
    Did Obama read the papers at all in 2008? We know he doesn't attend his intelligence briefings.
    Apparently, Obama didn't pay attention, didn't listen to anyone, didn't remember Putin's invasion, because Obama
    gave Putin our entire space program,
    promised to be more 'flexible' in giving the store away re: nukes,
    published the 260-page sites of every nuclear location in the USA,
    made Putin the dubious 'hero' with Syria's wmd's
    and gave every indication that Putin could do no wrong, while the tea party should be run out of town on a rail.
    Why wouldn't Putin crush the freedom-seekers of Ukraine?
    Only Dinesh D'Souza needs to fear the wrath of Barack Hussein Obama.
    Only Netanyahu is upbraided, insulted, treated with contempt by this White House.
    But Putin? - he can run his tanks over anyone he wishes and expect Medvedev to be patted affectionately on the knee by Mr.Obama....

    March 9, 2014 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  5. Namechina

    The Republican Party needs to go an sit there ass down somewhere. All they ever talk about is what Obama doing or not. You never here them say anything good about the President just do the blame game.

    March 9, 2014 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  6. T.C. William

    WHat did Bush or Cheney did when Russia invade Georgia and kept a couple areas as part of Russia? ZERO, NADA, NIENTE!!

    March 9, 2014 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  7. PtBarnumBoy

    President Obama is just another weakling like GW Bush was. Bush stood by and did nothing while Russia gobbled up Georgia and now Obama is doing the same thing. Some superpower we've turned out to be, can't even start a good war anymore.

    March 9, 2014 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  8. rs

    Someone posted (one of TOM I's pearls I believe) that Ms. Palin was "right" about Russia (or some such) and din't that make him (or her) right for once.

    Here's the thing folks: saying that Russia might at some point in time exert it's influence over its former states rates right up there with the sun may come up tomorrow for wisdom. Thus we see what passes for wisdom and diplomacy on the Right.

    Sorry, guys- weak, very weak.

    March 9, 2014 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  9. not really news

    Lets get real. Those same Republicans talking about Obama being weak against Putin, are so weak that they can't even convince their fellow republicans to come to any sort of agreement. If you can't get our own party to come to a simple agreement , how do you expect others to look at you and say.. oh .. look at them lead! ???? Weak = republican leadership.. or lack there of.

    March 9, 2014 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  10. Geewhizwow

    Strong enough to destroy a political party of stupids.................

    March 9, 2014 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
  11. Mario

    The GOP and their mindset:

    If the US takes action on something: "WHY ARE WE SPENDING TAXPAYER DOLLARS ON THIS FAR AWAY COUNTRY...WASTE OF MONEY BLAH BLAH BLAH"

    If the US doesn't doesn't take action: "OBAMA IS WEAK...REAGAN WOULD HAVE PUTIN SIPPING MILK OUT OF A SAUCER ON HIS LAP BLAH BLAH BLAH"

    March 9, 2014 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
  12. annieL

    Republicans are so silly. They would be funny if we weren't having to pay them to entertain us. And it's not even GOOD entertainment. They only know a few lines that they repeat over and over. A third grader could stand in front of a TV camera and deliver their lines better and a teenager could write better lines, or at least come up with some new material.

    March 9, 2014 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  13. 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 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  14. TEA Party Patriot

    Not spending trillions of our tax payer dollars on foreign wars is NOT weak. These establishment RINOs just don't get it. We are TAXED ENOUGH ALREADY!

    March 9, 2014 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm |
  15. Duh

    obama is not weak because he imposes sanctions that cost russian economy lots of cash, basically stating, Invade any country you want, as long as you have the cash to do so.

    March 9, 2014 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  16. Patriot

    Republicans have become so absurd and irrelevant that no one really cares what they think anymore.

    March 9, 2014 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm |
  17. Mona

    Where were all these folks making nasty remarks against this President when Bush/Cheney was leading us to a so-called war in Iraq???? Where were all these folks when Bush/Cheney spent all kinds of money & put us in hock? I think President Obama has done a great job getting us out of some of this mess....slowly but surely he will succeed. While
    Cruz, Ryan, Rand & the rest of the gang...oh yes, let us not forget Mc Cain & Graham protest & belittle the President, not once have I heard of a solution to any of the things they are ragging about!!! Such an outrage of these so-called representatives/Senators....they are to say the least a shameful DISGRACE!!!!!

    March 9, 2014 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  18. Bear

    So the no-brained hard-right would like us to go into the Black Sea with guns blazing? They really do not have any brain power do they? I mean beyond the steaks and Martinis they had at the club the night before. Right? In my opinion our president is doing everything in his power including skipping the back slapping, steak and lobster parties the GOP lives for. If they would wake up and actually get involved with the details of what we can actually do there without starting an all out military conflict, an actual resolution could be reached with Putin.

    March 9, 2014 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  19. Joe the plumber

    "so what has obama done over the last 5 years to ensure that the ukraine was firmly headed towards europe and the west? nothing" .....You all think Obama has the power of a God. What do you expect Obama to do? Wave a magic wand and make Putin step down? All you people that hate on Obama for everything look like tards. It gets a little old when you slam him no matter what he does. You even slam him for going on vacation when in fact he doesn't go on vacation that much. Most of you go on vacation more. Keep on watching Fox News fools.

    March 9, 2014 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  20. TiskTiskTisk

    just more stupid stuff said by fools.

    March 9, 2014 11:24 pm at 11:24 pm |
  21. steve

    Wait a minute... Obama's already won reelection so what's the point? The GOP will not be running against Obama in 2016. So if their point is to undercut the President and by doing so strengthen Putin's resolve does that mean the GOP are Communists or Russian infiltrators (maybe just plain traitors)??? Or are we still in that Bizzaro universe where the GOP has lost all common sense?

    March 9, 2014 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  22. ricardo1968

    What the republicans are asking for is recklessness, not strength. If America looks weak, it is because they got unacceptably bogged down in two wars. Obama is protecting the interests of the U.S. just fine. Crimea is an important issue, but in no way worthy of a war with Russia. That's just a reality that Putin, Obama and even McCain all recognize. If Putin wants to isolate Russia its his own fault. Crimea is worthless to an isolated Russia without control of the Bosphorus. Let them have it and stop doing business with them. Hopefully the Russians will throw Putin out.

    March 9, 2014 11:29 pm at 11:29 pm |
  23. Bubba

    The GOP are self serving traitors. An old lesson I remember from my military days, is; "Aim towards the enemy."
    Few members of the GOP Congress have served in the US Military, thus few learned this. Paul and Perry with their perky hair, and Cruz with his preacher look, surely have not learned this lesson.
    The GOP serve the agendas of their wealthy Masters by dividing America, and calling their treasonous behavior Patriotism. America has real enemies, who are emboldened by the GOP's relentless attacks on our leadership. Thus, the GOP become supporters of our enemies.
    The guilty often redirect blame onto others, and the GOP have become masters of blame. Follow them if you must, however, realize what a sucker you are.

    March 9, 2014 11:30 pm at 11:30 pm |
  24. Tim

    Of course Obama is weak... and incompetent... and irresponsible... and clueless. Obama has been a disaster for America. Anyone with an IQ over 70 understands that.

    March 9, 2014 11:35 pm at 11:35 pm |
  25. Robert N. constant

    The Tea Party/Republican talking points are aimed not at what is good for the United States but what they think will score political points against the President. Ironically, Tea Party darling Rand Paul and his father, Ron Paul have accepted contributions from the traitor Snowden who has defected to Russia. They have defended Snowden, and Ron Paul has expressed concern that the CIA might kill him.
    The Tea Party/ Republican Party has plenty to answer for in this regard. Not so long ago George Bush looked into Putin's eyes and saw a man he could trust! You will not hear those words brought back on Fox News.

    March 9, 2014 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
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