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

    This rhetoric about how the president is "weak" on a matter that does not concern the USA is how the US entered the Vietnam war.

    March 10, 2014 02:09 am at 2:09 am |
  2. James Mills

    The republican (Bush) response to Putin invading Georgia.... nothing

    The republican response to Putin invading Crimea... do exactly as Obama is doing and criticize Obama for doing anything... smh... worthless

    March 10, 2014 02:30 am at 2:30 am |
  3. Glenn Synigal

    Tell the GOP to go deep down in the Ocean and ask Osama bin-Laden if the President is weak.

    March 10, 2014 02:34 am at 2:34 am |
  4. mountainlady

    Republicans talk out both sides of their mouth. Everything G. Bush did makes perfect sense but everything Barack Obama does is wrong....even when he does the same thing. What.....you want the US to go into the Ukraine with guns blazing? Get a grip. The US is in trillions in debt after financing wars that amount to exactly what Putin is doing in the Crimea. We have sacrificed thousands of our armed forces. President Obama is doing everything realistically possible and responsible for a law abiding nation to do in these circumstances. Reality says that the GOP has NOTHING constructive or even logical to offer....as usual. All they can do is criticize. I eagerly await the day when the GOP offers anything but whiney complaints.

    March 10, 2014 02:43 am at 2:43 am |
  5. HeyHey

    Putin knew Bush's hands were tied in 2008 by Democrat congress and he knows now that Obama won't do anything. A theme?

    March 10, 2014 02:45 am at 2:45 am |
  6. maggie

    There is nothing wrong ever with trying to improve foreign relations diplomatically though diplomacy does not always work you must try, try, try. Sanctions next....both the U.S. and the EU must participate even if it costs everyone at the pump this summer. This should be the ever repeating lesson of how important energy diversity is to security for ourselves and influence/persuasion over others when negotiating international policy. So suck it up everyone and get back to the drawing board and start delivering that energy diversity to the masses. Lastly, physical intervention may be required if governments, or invaders are killing their own citizens. It's a human rights violation anywhere to make people vote with a gun in their face. Ukraine has shown it's commitment to wanting better government in Kiev. Lets not let that sacrifice go to waste. Cheers, Maggie

    March 10, 2014 02:57 am at 2:57 am |
  7. Mugzee44

    Maybe we as Americans should mind our own business for once, concentrate on getting our own affairs in order. And by the way someone in the media says that Russia is no longer a super power,Really? do these people think that Russia has done away with their nukes?

    March 10, 2014 03:08 am at 3:08 am |
  8. Robb

    Leave war for the GOP, load them up, send them out, first boots to the ground. See who's weak now. It's easy for them to send young men to do the dirty work. Give peace a chance. War is for the weak.

    March 10, 2014 03:53 am at 3:53 am |
  9. mrglobal

    This has nothing to do with Obama being weak or not. Same thing would have happened to any President. Unless US is willing to go to war with Russia (which we wont), it can only use sanctions. That's the only hand and the EU has to play with it. The more GOP goes after the "Obama is weak" card, the more it shows there is no moral compass or intellectual capacity.

    March 10, 2014 04:04 am at 4:04 am |
  10. donttreadonme

    God bless senator Paul.
    Wake up America. Its time for real change. Not the things Obama lied about.

    March 10, 2014 04:23 am at 4:23 am |
  11. Don Jones

    Ahhhh, it's Spring and one can hear the familiar wail of the GOP chicken hawk.

    March 10, 2014 04:54 am at 4:54 am |
  12. Doc Gordon

    wait.... what? and just last week he was some sort of hitlerian tyrant, intent on (and capable of) personally kicking in our doors and stealing our White American Way of Life?

    make up your minds, losers: you only get to have it both ways at CPAC and Faux News.

    March 10, 2014 05:03 am at 5:03 am |
  13. David Steele

    Obama is the strongest President ever. Nothing can distract him from sinking a 15-foot putt. Not even the Russians invading another country. Obama still makes that putt.

    March 10, 2014 05:07 am at 5:07 am |
  14. Omvny

    The GOP war mongers are out in full force. Thank God for Obama or else we would be fighting wars in Iraq, Syria, Iran, Afghanistan and now Ukraine.

    March 10, 2014 05:13 am at 5:13 am |
  15. Dave Robertson

    Obama is cool, and doesn't rush into situations without examining all sides which is how he kept us out of another ugly, pointless war in Syria. Hopeful that the morons will wake up and realize that the ACA is to everyone's benefit. Except that big insurance and big pharma need to be phased out of making public policy decisions on healthcare. ACA is a step in the right direction if people would only wake up and take that step.

    March 10, 2014 05:24 am at 5:24 am |
  16. Vladmir

    Compared to the Russian bear Putin, Obama is a giddy little school girl. Sad that this nation chose to elect someone with no foreign diplomacy skills. Obama has reset relations with Russia alright. Reset them to Cold War status...

    March 10, 2014 05:45 am at 5:45 am |
  17. veep

    Republicans are quickly becoming the enemies of everyone including Americans.

    March 10, 2014 05:54 am at 5:54 am |
  18. Chris

    One moment Republicans are calling Obama an iron-fisted tyrant then the next they are calling him a dithering milquetoast. That's the problem with the GOP – they are all over the place. Their sole consistency is that they are predetermined to find fault in whatever Obama does.

    March 10, 2014 06:07 am at 6:07 am |
  19. TRM

    So Bush was weak as well when Putin marched into Georgia with tanks and annexed it? This is why the GOP is becoming increasingly irrelevant. They will froth at the mouth about anything any Democrat does whether it is right , wrong or indifferent. The sheer political motives behind this stuff is so nauseating as it once again shows that it is all about them and not about the country. The worst thing to date is how Fox News applauds Putin for is "strength. If any one had any doubt that this new brand of GOP is a treasonous bunch of egomaniacs should really think about that. Now add to that the fact that some right wing town is inviting the Russian spie , Snowden, to talk via web link at their town hall, Inwould say Putin has won- he has own over the GOP!

    March 10, 2014 06:09 am at 6:09 am |
  20. Michael MN

    Wow really ? No matter what the President does the tea turd gop will always say it is wrong

    March 10, 2014 06:12 am at 6:12 am |
  21. DoubleSpeak=Rethuglicans

    Obama is weak. Obama is arrogant. Obama is weak. Obama is a thug. Obama is weak. Obama acting like a king. Obama is weak. Obama is acting like a dictator. Obama is weak.... blah blah blah...

    What this boils down to is that the Rethugs are so consumed by their hatred of Obama that they are verbally twisting themselves into nutty pretzels... they are such disgusting and transparent hypocrites!

    Rethuglicans cannot have it both ways (I have never heard of a weak dictator, btw...).

    March 10, 2014 06:15 am at 6:15 am |
  22. Craiga

    I feel like GOP might be on wrong side of their own party members on this issue (again). People I know who are lifelong repubs are tired of spending so much money on military might to "police the world". Obama is actually doing what republicans I know want to see happen, use economic diplomacy to state our position and otherwise stay out of it. GOP consistently sound like they want to start a new war every other month to take control of every civil conflict in the world. They are vehemently taking positions very very few people in this country want to see the country take including many in their own party.

    March 10, 2014 06:15 am at 6:15 am |
  23. Ace

    The GOP certainly has no strengths of their own to run on. All they can do is attack.

    Is bin Laden still dead? Gaddafi? Just checking.

    March 10, 2014 06:17 am at 6:17 am |
  24. Ace

    George W Bush did nothing when Putin attacked Georgia. Nothing.

    March 10, 2014 06:24 am at 6:24 am |
  25. NATHAN WIMBERLY

    HILARIOUS watching Guns Over People tea potty wingnuts walk the plank toward another November. They are so delusional that the have gone communist and back Putin over America.

    March 10, 2014 06:27 am at 6:27 am |
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