May 4th, 2014
03:06 PM ET
7 months ago

Political Chatter: Benghazi, Ukraine and deconstructing Obama’s veiled humor

At the annual White House Correspondents Dinner on Saturday night, President Barack Obama and news groups were roasted and toasted amidst a crowd full of Hollywood celebrities. On Sunday morning, journalists got back on topic, dissecting the latest deadly violence in Ukraine, the ongoing investigation into Benghazi and of course, presidential politics.

If you missed the Sunday political talk shows, we’ll get you up to speed on the latest events and opinion in Washington with this comprehensive round up of all things political:


Foreign policy: Republicans continue to beat up on the President over his foreign policy. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisconsin, said Obama isn’t doing enough to combat Russia’s heavy hand in Ukraine.

“It really is spinning out of control, and you know the sad fact is sanctions haven't worked,” he said on CNN’s “State of the Union” after a recent trip to Ukraine.

Violence escalated in recent days in the Black Sea port city of Odessa, where a street battle between supporters and opponents of Russia ended in a deadly blaze that killed more than 40 people.

Ukraine releases protesters; PM visits Odessa

Amid continued defiance, Ukrainian official vows: 'We are not stopping'

While Obama said he would impose tougher sanctions on Russia that target the country’s economy if President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine or if he interfered with Ukrainian elections set to take place on May 25, Republicans think tougher sanctions should go into effect immediately, including Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-New Hampshire.

“The bottom line is if we wait until the elections, it will be too late at that point,” she said on “Fox News Sunday.”

The U.S. and Europe has imposed two rounds of sanctions directed at individuals in Putin’s inner circle. Financial punishment hasn’t been expanded because Europe relies on Russia’s energy exports and knows that industry-focused economic sanctions could harm its economy.

Despite that, Republicans want to see more done.

“Vladimir Putin is only going to respond to action, strength and resolve. He's not going to respond to words,” Johnson said.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” that the President is “delusional about what’s going on in Ukraine.”

Rep. Eliot Engel, D-New York, defended the President’s actions in Ukraine, saying on “State of the Union” that sanctions have “affected” Putin’s behavior, noting that the Russian leader hasn’t yet deployed his military across the border.

The GOP senators on three talk shows mounted another pitch echoed by their party for weeks: Send small arms and “anti-tank weapons” to Ukraine, something Obama has not supported.

Engel cautioned against jumping ahead of European allies. “We’re going to have to work in conjunction with NATO because if we don't, then the NATO alliance is dead,” Engel said, countering Republican demands.

But Johnson insisted the United States do more. “It’s the type of weakness that has given Vladimir Putin certainly the signal that he can continue to do those things with impunity,” he said.

Obama’s leadership – or lack of - has been a Republican talking point throughout his presidency, pointing to Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Syria, Russia and now it emerged as an issue on the Sunday political shows regarding Nigeria.

In Nigeria, where more than 200 teenage girls have been abducted by the Islamist militant group Boko Haram last month for attending a Western school, Johnson said, “America has to lead. That’s what’s missing now.”

Demand for return of hundreds of abducted schoolgirls in Nigeria mounts

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, had an unsurprisingly similar sentiment: “I believe in American exceptionalism. I believe we have a leading role. I believe in peace through strength. Unfortunately, we have a president who is not believed around the world. He's lost the credibility. I think he had that credibility and had the military strength to back it up, there would be a lot more peace out there.”

Benghazi: A flurry of activity over Benghazi erupted this week with the release of an administration memo written after the deadly attacks that advises Susan Rice, then U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, to underscore that the violence was a result of a protest on a series of Sunday political show appearances.

The fight between the White House and congressional Republicans reached a new level as House Speaker John Boehner announced that he will create a special committee to investigate. But Rep. Adam Schiff, D-California, said that Democrats shouldn’t participate in the committee, which he called a “colossal waste of time.”

“I don't think it makes sense for us to give this select committee any more credibility than it deserves,” he said on “Fox News Sunday.”

While Schiff called the Republicans’ investigations political in nature, Ayotte said the White House’s explanation of what happened on September 11, 2012, just two months before the presidential election, was the thing that was political.

“The President had been saying al Qaeda was on the run. They were trying to push a narrative of strength in foreign policy. This did not fit their narrative,” she said.

And on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Chaffetz said he has evidence that further contradicts the White House’s story.

“I have a document in my hand, an internal State Department document that goes to Cheryl Mills, Hillary Clinton's chief of staff, this is on September 12th. The State Department had told the President of the Libyan Congress that it was Ansar al-Sharia, a terrorist organization that had committed these attacks,” he said.

But David Plouffe, former White House senior adviser, said on ABC’s “This Week” that Benghazi is an issue because “there’s a very loud delusional minority that is driving our politics.”

Benghazi - government cover-up or right-wing conspiracy theory?

Graham, who thinks the Obama administration is lying and called Benghazi “a smoking gun,” also thinks the White House was covering up any possible bad news to protect the President’s re-election efforts. But he noted, “Anybody who plays politics with Benghazi will get burned.” That includes the Republican Party.

Obama’s humor at #WHCD: At the annual White House Correspondent’s Dinner, you know, the dinner that gives out awards to serious, well-deserved journalists (i.e. CNN’s Brianna Keilar)? The annual event with journalists taking as many selfies as they can with Hollywood’s famous? Yeah, that event.

Obama gets last laugh at Washington's annual correspondents' dinner

Well, Obama told a few jokes about himself, the media and healthcare.gov. But he also joked about Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden, including: “Let's face it, Fox, you'll miss me when I'm gone. It will be harder to convince the American people that Hillary was born in Kenya.”

NBC’s “Meet the Press” deconstructed the meaning behind his Clinton/Biden jokes. Anita Dunn, Obama’s former communications director, said a Clinton Democratic nomination “is as close to a fait accompli as anything that could exist” in the Democratic Party.

New York Times Magazine Correspondent Mark Leibovich, author of "This Town," criticized the dinner and related parties on "This Week," asking, "what are we celebrating exactly?"

Perry for President? Texas Gov. Rick Perry did not say if he would run for president in 2016, but in a telling remark, he said, “American is a place that believes in second chances.”

The governor’s last bid for president in 2012 crashed and burned after a series of mistakes, including not remembering his own positions.

After the Oklahoma execution last week when a three-drug cocktail took more than 45 minutes for the inmate to die, Perry called the execution "botched" but defended Texas’ active death penalty policy as “appropriate,” saying Texas uses only “one drug” during executions.

He also expressed his opposition to the minimum wage rejected by Senate Republicans last week, saying Texas focuses “on the maximum wage rather than the minimum wage.”

Fallout from LA Clippers story: Race was a central topic of the roundtable portions of the Sunday talk shows. The conversations were interesting and best viewed in their entirety:

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said that Clippers owner Donald Sterling doesn’t realize the seriousness of his remarks. “I don’t think he gets that,” Garcetti said. Sterling has been in hot water ever since racist remarks made on audio recordings were leaked.

Additionally, he thinks there might be a legal battle over the Clippers as Sterling wants to continue to own the team. After speaking with Sterling, Garcetti said that he might encourage a boycott of the Clippers if Sterling tries to keep the team.

“I would certainly keep that arrow in my quiver,” he said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

NBA to name new CEO for the Clippers; team wins in playoffs

Sell the Clippers to the people

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson said Sterling should “embrace the sanctions and spend the rest of his life proving he was not a racist.”

Kicker: Nancy Pelosi tweets a picture of her tattoo:

soundoff (52 Responses)
  1. Chris-E...al

    If the W.H. just would have told the truth about Benghazi from the start . But when are pathological liars ever going to be honest with us ? When you lie so much it becomes hard to keep them all straight . They even put the man in jail that made the video for some odd reason ? So much for that 1st amendment rights ?

    May 4, 2014 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  2. daviddavid

    Democratic voters don't care about the economy. The don't care about the debt. And they don't care about jobs. Period! If they did Obama would never have been re-elected. Democratic voters only care about social issues!!! Gay marriage, abortions, amnesty for illegals, and more government handouts will secure the LGBT, women, Hispanic and black votes respectively. A good chunk of the remaining voters will be lured in by the Hollywood elites and the mainstream media.

    May 4, 2014 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  3. Thomas

    Battle of Fallujah 95 killed and 560 wounded.

    Battle of Benghazi 4 killed .

    Why do the GOP Republican conservative Neocons relate apples to oranges ?

    May 4, 2014 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  4. don in albuquerque

    daviddavid

    I think the dems care a great deal about debt. Since Obama was elected the cost of Iran and Afghanistan are finally on the books. Dems didn't run last midterms on job! Jobs! JOBS! That would be the GOTP who to date have created nary a one. Any truth in your post. Nary a one.

    May 4, 2014 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  5. sam

    No one died during the Watergate breakin...

    May 4, 2014 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  6. don in albuquerque

    Chris-E

    How do you know you have not already told the truth? 44 hearing, surely the truth would have come out at some point. What did come out was that a whole bunch of people were making things up. I draw you attention to "60 Minutes" public admission that they in fact lied just a few months ago. They were not the first. We should get something for the millions of dollars these investigations are costing. Who is the pathological liar, and who were they certified as such by? Please cite your sources. Or is this once again stuff you are just making up, or repeating FOX gossip points, or sheer innuendo.

    May 4, 2014 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  7. DP

    I guess it is time for Russia to provide some weapons to Iran or N.Korea, if that what US wants to achieve... do you like to get Iranian shipwreck missile w/ nuclear warhead in Hormuz/Ormuz ?

    May 4, 2014 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  8. 2_indy1600

    Call me naive, but I thought seals would've already been on the kidnapped girls. If not, why not? Where's the moral authority when we need it? The Nigerian outrage should be uppermost in media and political focus. Since when does any civilized country stand by when girls are kidnapped from dorms in the middle of the night and sold into slavery?

    May 4, 2014 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  9. Barbara

    If he had just told the truth from the beginning I think most people would have understood. But to lie to the American people just not to lose a vote or two was disgusting.

    May 4, 2014 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  10. smith1

    republicans looking for a cause will hang on Benghazi forever just like the vote on the affordable care act. The longer they make a fuss the more their stupid base will think it is true. That's just how they roll. Why look for the truth when a lie does just as well.

    May 4, 2014 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  11. just me

    David, dems don't care about jobs? They're blocked by the teabaggers every time they try to do something for working people. And no, tax cuts for the stinkin rich is not a jobs bill. Dems only care about social issues? Are you insane? Repubs have run on nothing but social issues for thirty years and counting now. That and trickle down economics which is a proven failure. Put down the tea and pick up a book.

    May 4, 2014 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  12. just me

    Sam, your verbatim quote from fixed news is correct. Here' another difference: in watergate, Americans broke the law.

    May 4, 2014 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  13. kcyankee

    Get off the dead Benghazi horse. May I advise my Republican friends to try to come up with some action, any action, that might actually do some good for the American people? I mean really, do they have a single idea?

    May 4, 2014 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  14. Wes

    President Bush didn't lie about the attack and blame a video. Everybody knows our government is not perfect, mistakes happen and in war people die. We don't want a leader who lies for political gain. And obama and his staff has lied to us.

    May 4, 2014 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  15. Marie MD

    @chris, see below – where were you and the teaklans? Riiiiiight, white prez.
    shrub #43
    2002 U.S. Embassy Karachi, Pakistan: 10 killed, 51 injured
    2004 U. S. Embassy bombed in Uzbekistan: 2 killed, several injured.
    2004 U.S. Consulate Saudi Arabia: 8 killed
    2006 US. Embassy Syria: 1 killed, several injured
    2007 U.S. Embassy -Athens: building bombed with an anti-tank grenade...fortunately no one was in the building at the time.
    2008-U.S. Embassy – Serbia: 1 dead; Embassy set on fire
    2008- U. S. Embassy- Yemen- bombed 10 killed

    May 4, 2014 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  16. Gurgis

    Obamacare made positive news, so did the job numbers. And GOP leaders supported publicly yet another racist. So, the GOP was desperate to divert attention. Lacking any better topic than the dead horse that is Benghazi, they jump on it, and the base, looking for something to publicly hate the Dems and Obama for, immediately chime in.

    Last month's news in a nutshell.

    May 4, 2014 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  17. Jim Bob

    Benghazi is far worse than the Iraq war and Afghan wars combined. Sure, 5,269 americans died, but at least there were some americans that made money on oil and in rebuilding the blown out infrastructure with no-bid contracts in iraq, making it worth those battle scars. We have nothing to show for in Benghazi with these 0,004 that were killed by terrorists. Thats what shortsighted dems just don't understand. If you're going to lie, at least make sure your political donors profit from it. This administration just does not understand the american way the same way that the bible belt does.

    May 4, 2014 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  18. Ted Racine

    If there's nothing to hide I say let the select committee investigate. Hasn't the ACA wasted an enormous amount of money not to mention the egregious practices of the IRS. They investigated Watergate and NO ONE died whereas four Americans DIED in Bengazi. I'm guessing the Dems don't want the truth and want to forsake the ultimate sacrifice of these brave and dedicated Amercan patriots. In the infamous speech of HRC, "...what difference does it make?.." Well it wasn't you son, brother, or spouse that was abandoned-I say it makes A LOT OF DIFFERENCE!!!

    May 4, 2014 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  19. Navy Vet

    Obama is a cowards and a liar….just like the rest of the Dems and Repubs in DC! All of you clowns that try to take up for him are just brainless cowards too!

    May 4, 2014 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  20. CryBabies

    Barbara....Dems just don't get it.

    May 4, 2014 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  21. Cindy

    The whole political thing is a joke and all for gain of certain vested interests but certainly not the American voters best interests. This whole darn thing about having Al Qaeda on the run and all the other constant tall tales are just rhetoric which leaves Americans blindsided to the real truths. They can only continue to dumb us down if we let them.

    We Americans need to decide just how much longer we are willing to be lied to, by which party and how much longer we are willing to accept the total lack of transparency being thrust upon us by politicians on both sides of the isle to which are out to do nothing more than take our hard earned tax-payer funded dollars to do NOTHING in Washington. .

    May 4, 2014 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  22. ja

    How many people died in Iraq, on the lie WMD, lie,and no investigation, everybody stuck their heads in sand,

    May 4, 2014 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  23. jerry

    funny how these leftist compare Benghazi to the Iraq war when the issue is obama told a bold faced lie as he ran for reelection…an impeachable offense. Bush had democratic support and a huge collation too boot. Pretty desperate to compare Bush to obama…and ignorant.

    May 4, 2014 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  24. gstlab3

    I will not be surprised if this sort of funny business like massive ammounts of gun running and squashing political dissent or spying on everybody and or this continued monkeying around in far away lands stirring up civil wars and making money at it will be the undoing of this once great nation that I can only now just barely but do fondly remember it being a nice hope filled place with good jobs that offered a man a decent life.
    Not anymore., these dirty treasonous politicians and the banksters stole it from us.

    May 4, 2014 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  25. DH

    Barbara.......The president did not lie. And Repubs cut the budgets for all our embassies, including the CIA 's secret place Benghazi So should we dig up Reagan as he lied about arms to the wrong people then go drag Cheney and bush in as lies they told to invade Iraq and Afghanistan looking for WMD killed 5,000 Americans......sadly way more than 4. Dems supported Repubs for the good of our country........ Repubs don't know what that means, that is disgusting.

    May 4, 2014 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
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