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. Rudy NYC

    Listen to the Republican hypocrites. Had Democrats dished such damaging criticism against Bush during the Georgian Crisis in 2008, then Republicans would have called Democrats "unamerican" and "unpatriotic." Democrts didn't because they knew that it was the wrong thing to do. Now, when the shoe is on the other foot, all of a sudden it's patriotic and heroic to criticize the POTUS during a similar crisis with Russia. The crisis was barely an hour old before the war of words began.

    March 10, 2014 08:16 am at 8:16 am |
  2. bob smith

    Why should the USA get involved in the business of others?

    The republican's are all for smaller government except when they want to psuh their bigotted manifest destiny views on people who don't care about the USA.

    Let the USA fall from being a big kid on the block we are the worlds bully. We beat up on everybody, extort everybody. Due to the Piss down theory of reaganomics this country is headed toward bankruptcy. 40 years of tax cuts for the rich while increasing spending doesn't work.

    March 10, 2014 08:17 am at 8:17 am |
  3. TheSadTruth

    The GOP has overplayed that card to the point point it is in shreds- but what do you expect when they have no other card to play "Obama bad! Obama bad!" is all they and their bobblehead followers have to say. No answers as to what SHOULD BE DONE.

    March 10, 2014 08:18 am at 8:18 am |
  4. GOP Rhetoric

    Obama has avoided getting us involved in several new conflicts and I don't think the world is sitting around judging us if we are strong or weak. By not rushing into new wars we have not added additional debt and lost countless new lives. The GOP answer is act in knee jerk fashion and figure out the consequences and how to pay for it later. Diplomacy is cheaper than wars.

    March 10, 2014 08:24 am at 8:24 am |
  5. blue079

    All republicans ever want is to go to war. They are all war mongers. But why would they care, it's not like they have loved ones in the military.

    March 10, 2014 08:27 am at 8:27 am |
  6. VAbeachVA

    "Obama is weak and indecisive": Tag line of the month for the GOP.

    March 10, 2014 08:31 am at 8:31 am |
  7. JD

    Who exactly is "Ryan"? Never a mention of a full name in the article as to who this "Ryan" may be. Now that's some pretty poor proof reading or none at all.
    And realistically, all Presidents are weak sometimes. Even Obama.
    As for the rest of the posters here on "soundoff" : try to be a little less vicious with the immature name-calling – you don't help your argument to appear rational. Mostly you seem to be stapled to the left side of any argument calling anything else crazy,fat,stupid, whatever – so you look immature – get it?

    March 10, 2014 08:31 am at 8:31 am |
  8. greg

    The wisest statement in the article, 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.

    March 10, 2014 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
  9. Dean

    I don't need the GOP to tell me Obama is weak...I just need to turn on the news (any channel).

    March 10, 2014 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  10. Thomas

    didn't read the article. i'd like to keep what few remaining brain cells i have for basic motor function,

    and like listening to WHAT IS IMPORTANT. lol

    btw, what 'card or cards' are the democrats holding up?

    "Got Candidate?" lol

    ~peace

    thomas :)

    March 10, 2014 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  11. Pete

    It's funny how Lindsey Graham said different than these delushional troublemakers of Pres.Obama applauding his recent stance against Putin,Russia...Can't republicans ever get on the same page or are they waiting till midterms when they'll all be shown the door...Remember republicans you've made your beds traitors now sleep in it...

    March 10, 2014 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  12. Rudy NYC

    just asking wrote:

    so what has obama done over the last 5 years to ensure that the ukraine was firmly headed towards europe and the west? nothing.
    ------------------–
    He did just as much as Bush did to protect Georgia. What was Pres. Obama supposed to have done prior to.? And, what is Pres. Obama supposed to do now, after the fact? If you have no answers, then you really have no valid complaints.

    March 10, 2014 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  13. The Real Tom Paine

    -just asking

    so what has obama done over the last 5 years to ensure that the ukraine was firmly headed towards europe and the west? nothing. what has he done to help them and show their future is better with the eu? nothing. what has he done to firm up the ukraine military to counter the russian threat? nothing. he knew russia was a country invader as they went into georgia. the evidence was there for all to see. i guess he thought if he spoke nice to putin and slapped them on the knee, all would be well? obama is naive, incompetent and stupid when it comes to foreign affairs.
    **************
    So, what you are saying is that the Ukraine, with a pro-Russian government, would have welcomed our military aid? Part of the criteria of us sending aid is that they have to ask for it: the former governmnet never asked for it. I guess its difficult for a conservative to grasp, but we can't simply march in to " help" unless we are asked ( another example of the Right thinking it has to do is show up and we will be welcomed with open arms, a la Iraq). I don't recall Ukraine coming up once in a substantive discussion about foreign policy from the Right in the last 6 years. They were the ones who allowed Putin to carve up Georgia, and now they suddenly waking up the fact theat their heroic, ex-KGB killer is crazy? I guess they were too busy applauding him last year to remember what he really is.

    March 10, 2014 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  14. Rudy NYC

    Tommy G

    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
    -----------------------------
    Hillary Clinton resigned from the Secretary of State position over a year ago. Why is it that you assign blame for this latest crisis with the Russians on her and not that of her successor, John Kerry? Why assign blame in the first place? Is there any real substantive blame to be assigned? Why shouldn't we also blame George W. Bush for setting the precedent in Georgia?

    March 10, 2014 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  15. ghostwriter

    “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.

    Doesn't this pretty much sum up the conservatives? We know we did the exact same things we are complaining about.....but let's just forget all that and concentrate on screaming "I hate Obama" the loudest.

    March 10, 2014 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  16. Anonymous

    @ Andy H.

    Anti-Americanism is strong on this thread. I guess that is to be expected from the TP crowd that took over what was once your father's republican party. What was it Karl Rove said about these types now being coddled by the GOP? "They aren't the most savvy of people". Spiteful they are. Savvy they are not. Quite like little children demanding but never understanding how their actions and words speak against them more than it speaks against whomever it is they are throwing their tantrums at. I am embarrassed for them and the political party that encourages their tantrums.

    March 10, 2014 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  17. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    The only people that are making us look weak AND stupid to the world are elected Republicans in front of a mike.
    I thank God for President Obama everytime one of them opens up their mouth to trash him, and by extension, opens our country to ridicule and attack.
    Unpatriotic vermin.

    March 10, 2014 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  18. neomoderate

    Disingenuous. If Obama went to war over this Ukraine business, the GOP would call him a war-monger and say he is doing something illegal or some such nonsense. And by following diplomatic channels and sanctions they call him weak...no matter what he does the GOP will be critical of his actions (or inaction). I'm not saying the criticism shouldn't exist, but lets keep it to a dull roar and perhaps offer some sort of plan of action. just criticizing everything someone else does is not helping. Step up and put forth an idea of how to handle the situation...

    Crickets...

    March 10, 2014 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  19. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    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
    -------------------------------------------------
    Our President mobilizing the international community.
    He did this very successfully before with Lybia.
    The one time Bush tried it they left him and our troops alone to die in Iraq...not that I could blame the international community for doing so.

    March 10, 2014 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  20. Lynda/Minnesota

    "The Republicans need to tone down the criticism."

    Oh, I agree. Between the two of us, it's not going to happen. Republicans have gotten a taste for this type of dialog. With that and a media willing to go all out to appease them, there is no hope for American politics. Whenever the other side asks for reason and calmness, they are either shouted down or intimidated with a "both sides do it" nonsense geared to upset the apple cart even further into a discourse of childish "do to, do not" behavior. I suspect TeaParty folks have turned nearly all of America off from political banter. Ratings and lack of comments on all websites is a good indication that most Americans are not impressed or willing to address these folks in intelligent conversation.

    One can't, actually.

    March 10, 2014 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  21. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    I must say that Republicans are being very reprehensinble and irresposible intheir behaviour and utterances during these tenuous times.
    I will go further to state that it is almost as if they want Puting to start some s hit with us while Obama is still President.
    They are taking risks running their mouths that they would've NEVER taken had this situation been occurring under Bush.
    Their behaviour and concer towards OUR national safety is reckless and unpatriotic.
    They have no lines in the sand when it comes to using anything, and I do mean ANYTHING, that they can to trash THIS President even if that includes putting our country at risk in their unAmerican attempt to make THIS Preisent appear weak even while he is in the midst of delicate negotiations to keep us safe.
    I have NEVER seen this type of behaviour out of elected officials.
    Shameful.

    March 10, 2014 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  22. dondiego

    Once again, the "loyal opposition" fails to rally 'round the flag to support their country. Why do these hypocrites hate America and want to see her fail?

    March 10, 2014 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  23. Skeptimist

    Putin thinks the fall of the Soviet Empire is a temporary setback.
    Ethnic Ukrainians remember the Holodomor.
    The happiest Ukrainians probably live in Canada.
    A few, mostly eccentric, Americans know what and where the Ukraine is.
    Among those that do, most think it is emotionally comparable to Texas – everybody's pissed about something.
    The GOP addresses the topic with its usual preference for loud noises.
    Democrats like to think they are different but the proof is elusive.

    March 10, 2014 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  24. guest

    American naval presence just when russia scuttles ships to block ukraine navy does not seem weak to me. And hey, we had the foresight to go ahead and schedule that ship there way ahead of time, so it doesnt seem like we werent paying attention to the goings on to me.

    March 10, 2014 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  25. Insert sarcastic remark here

    First, Obama is a socialist dictator shoving his policies down our throats. Then he is weak cannot act on anything. You can't have it both ways people.

    March 10, 2014 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
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