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. jason

    agreed...not a single terrorist was droned when they closed the gubmint

    March 9, 2014 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  2. Larry L

    The ballistic missile defense system the Republicans want is yet another multi-billion dollar defense pork project. What a shock they'd want it back on the table...

    March 9, 2014 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  3. here and back again

    Wonder what Bin Laden thinks of him?

    March 9, 2014 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  4. Peter Guild

    I recall Barack Obama laughing at Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin predicting Russian aggression. Who is laughing now? The Obama Administration is incredibly incapable and corrupt. Peter Guild, Quincy, MA.

    March 9, 2014 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  5. ELMO

    Keep voting Democrat or Republican and the same old will continue as the status quo

    March 9, 2014 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  6. sameeker

    The GOP and their corporations are itching for a war. Halliburton has blown the 2 trillion that they made on Iraq, so now they want more. If they all want war so badly, let them pay for it and go fight it.

    March 9, 2014 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  7. dave

    Obama is not running for anything, he's Constitutionally limited,, he can never run for President again. What counts for strenght for the republicans is war with everyone, huge debt, then cut food stamps to little children when the bill comes due, plus giving themselves huge tax breaks while there are several wars going on. The 1st thing out of their mouths when they are talking war is what tax increase do they want, maybe like a 91% tax rate for the rich, that's what it was in WWII, and they didn't get tax breaks. If republicans had their way, we would have about a dozen wars going, and debt about 100 trillion dollars, and going up, as they start more wars, and don't pay for them, and lose them as well.

    March 9, 2014 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  8. jackson

    Another left wing opinion piece passed off as news to the not so smart. The aggressive name calling tactics are getting stale and the SNL type of commentary is becoming obviously childish. Left wing rule is like "Lord Of The Flies" – more and more vicious as time goes on. It's as if these wanna be totalitarians don't even realizie what they are destroying, er, excuse me, "deconstructing".

    March 9, 2014 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  9. Dave

    Short of Nuclear war, the GOP will still call Obama weak. If it was WWII the Republicans would be praising Hitler for his resolve. Just look at the Fox News anchors, they're practically kissing Putins boots.

    March 9, 2014 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  10. airjackie

    Many Americans, lawmakers and even Dick Cheney see Obama as weak. A strong leader like Putin and George W. Bush is what many feel the US needs. Bush called himself the War President and the Decider and really did not care what Americans thought. Americans watched our War President get thousands of soldiers killed based on lies and even the thousands of innocent Iraq people kidnapped, tortured, raped and killed. Americans learned Bush/Cheney were found guilty of War Crimes in Malaysia but still call President Bush one of the best President we have had. Just think if Bush or McCain or Romney were in office as President, the US would be at War with Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Syria and Russia.

    March 9, 2014 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  11. John

    I am still trying to figure out what it is that people think we can do there in the short term. Send troops? Of course not. Sanctions maybe, but the rest of the West, all the big players have lots of reasons why no sanctions. Like trade, gas, etc. Simply the current reality. When will people learn that we do not control the world. And BTW, not all of those folks now in power in Kiev are so sweet. Plenty of quasi Nazis in high positions.

    March 9, 2014 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  12. JohnRJohnson

    So, anybody who thinks before they act and uses their brain instead of their gonads to make important decisions is "weak". The desperation of the GOP is palpable.

    March 9, 2014 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  13. Senay

    Robert Gates said it. In 2008, when GW was president, Russia and Georgia went to war over the declared independence of South Ossetia. When the conflict was over, Russian forces had control over the territory along with South Ossetian forces. Hey GOP, where were you, then? Where was GW?

    March 9, 2014 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  14. Chipster

    I'm tired of the GOP trash-talking our country just because they want to re-gain power and control. If McCain had won the election, we would have invaded Iran and Russia! But, just like Bush, he'd never have dared initiate the draft. It might cost the GOP votes when their ditto heads had to send their sons and daughters to a war that could be avoided by diplomacy and sanctions. The monetary cost? How would McCain have handled that? Increase taxes on the wealthy? Not a chance! The GOP lives in some alter reality universe where math is flexible and war is a fantasy game.

    March 9, 2014 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  15. DJC

    Only conclusion I get from this is thank God it is Obama in the Whitehouse. I've seen the Republican reaction to a foreign crisis and they still haven't learned anything. The GOP is fast becoming a relic.

    March 9, 2014 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  16. Rob

    Obama has cowarded away on Iran, Syria, and now Crimea, and what's next? Putin is STRONG!! Unfortunately, for this United States.

    March 9, 2014 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  17. NickD

    If Obama is weak the the GOP must be completely spineless. After all for 6 years the GOP has worked overtime to lie about and destroy this president. Yet for 6 years all they have done is weaken the USA and destroyed our credibility around the world. For 6 years the GOP has tried to force Obamas hand and for 6 years they have failed.

    So is is weak? Seems like the weaklings here are the GOP.

    March 9, 2014 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  18. jnpa

    I guess the GOP wanted us to bomb Moscow. Sorry GOP, the President, in coordination with our allies, did exactly what he should have.

    March 9, 2014 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  19. ronjayaz

    The GOP never got over having lost the last election. And this event was just another example. Name calling will get U nowhere with the American electorate.. Get a platform, gentlemen and lady.

    March 9, 2014 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  20. Fish

    Considering the shameful CPAC fiasco where Palin surfaces again to disgrace our nation, the repulsive right should not say anything about anything!!! My lord will they ever have a policy, issue or anything but kill Obamacare??? These people haven't a single independent thought in years!!!

    March 9, 2014 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  21. judith

    How's that for patriotism? Undermining the Commander-In-Chief purely for political reasons. Would these Republicans prefer we go to war with Russia and let loose the dogs of nuclear war?

    March 9, 2014 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  22. Phallium Wolfcastle

    The GOP need to make up their minds. One month he's a tyrannical socialist dictator coming for your guns and robbing you of your freedoms, the next month he's a spineless coward.

    March 9, 2014 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  23. wazuri77

    war hawks screaming weakness...when did cheney go to war? wasn't cheney behind the biggest foreign policy blunder (e.g. iraq war) of the century...

    March 9, 2014 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  24. Larry L

    @Tommy G

    "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."
    You may recall Bush started the two wars that the President had to finish. "Mission Accomplished!" Maybe Bush needs to put down his paint brush and go take another look into the eyes of his buddy Vladimir.

    Everything the President has accomplished for the last five years has been spite of Republican opposition and obstructionism. From the first day Republicans actively worked to block progress in America – just for political gain. Patriotism and loyalty to our country were casualties to the bigotry, racism, and divisiveness of the right-wing now trashing what's left of the GOP.

    March 9, 2014 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  25. soul68

    I guess it's easier than holding up the "Bush looked into his soul" card.

    March 9, 2014 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
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