It is unclear why President Obama spoke again Monday on Ukraine. He added nothing to the discussion, although he sounded more annoyed with Russia. No doubt he’s irked by the rotten reviews he is getting, so following a written statement over the weekend aimed at damage control, he came back for another take — but with the same results.
He’s still railing at controlling the Malaysia Airlines crash site — as if he is upset that the police tape has been broken and doesn’t know that bodies have already been moved. Once again we got empty words (he’ll hold Russia accountable, honest) and zero action announced.
As for his display of moral equivalence on Israel, Obama might consider who is responsible for the loss of Gazan lives (the terrorists who use them as human shields) and comment on the mass of tunnels Israel must destroy. He still fails to understand that the problem is not too few statements but too little action.
Something remarkable is going on, something that is lost on many in the media and on some presidential contenders. Last week, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who seems less eager than potential rivals for the 2016 presidential nomination to delve into domestic policy issues, dismissed the back-and-forth between Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Texas Gov. Rick Perry as “squabbling.” He might want to pay more attention to the debate on foreign policy. It’s pretty important.
That debate is not simply the Paul the Younger vs. the rest of the 2016 contenders. The earthquake rumbling through the political landscape is a revulsion against “leading from behind,” which means not leading at all and letting the world spin out of control. There is a broad consensus that Obama is dangerously weak and indecisive, which has caused havoc around the globe. This all has implications for the GOP, for Hillary Clinton and for the 2014 midterms.
National Journal’s Ron Fournier put it well on “Meet the Press”: “Look, first of all, let’s make it clear, of course Putin is a thug here. And of course it’s very complicated, what’s happening between Israel and Palestinians. But what we have here is a president, for better and for worse, partly reflecting the American sentiment, [who] really has not tried to impose his will and his vision on the global community. And what we have happening here are kind of the consequences, in part, of an aloof foreign policy.” I’d venture to say that a large majority of lawmakers and foreign policy experts on both sides of the aisle, including some who worked for Obama, agree. We see that the GOP in polling is once again trusted more on foreign policy than the Democrats. Obama has slapped the “weak on defense” back on his party — in bold letters.
And it has ramifications for the GOP primary as well. Fournier again: “President Obama right now, as we’re talking about earlier, is channeling the American public and looking weak. Rand Paul is channeling the American public. Even a big part of the Republican sentiment. But now we’re going to see the Cheney wing of the party make him look weak. That is going to happen.”
Unfortunately a great number of MSM reporters and pundits don’t follow foreign policy and know little about it, as evidenced by their surprise that Hillary Clinton’s tenure is viewed unfavorably by a majority of voters. Hello?! This is no surprise, or shouldn’t be. The policies she put in place, defended and still parrots in large part have resulted in calamities. This is not merely Benghazi, although that is a (small) part of the picture of her own cluelessness in office. The public is beginning to associate (understandably) her with the president and, by extension, with the foreign policy disaster. Iran engagement, the Russian reset, being caught unaware by al-Qaeda’s spread — these are all Hillary’s liabilities as much as they are Obama’s. And it is on this ground that the 2016 election will be fought if she runs. Republicans who hope to follow Obama had better be prepared to enter the fray and make their case.