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Wineke: Is Putin the leader for our time?

Published On: Mar 04 2014 03:28:44 PM CST
Putin news conference

One thing the right-wing politicians and presumably left-wing media people agree on is that President Vladimir Putin is a lot better leader than President Barack Obama.

U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers of Michigan, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, tells reporters that Putin is “playing chess” while Obama is “playing marbles.”

Sarah Palin, who insists she knows something about foreign policy and seems to convince the media to quote her on the subject, said, “People are looking at Putin as one who wrestles bears and drills for oil. They look at our own president as one who wears mom jeans and equivocates and bloviates.”

In this instance, Palin was talking about the Russian incursion into the Ukraine. She joins the Washington Post in belittling and deriding the president.

So does Sen. Lindsay Graham, who calls Obama “weak and indecisive,” and suggests the Russians took action in the Ukraine because of Benghazi.

Honestly, that’s what he said. Because rioters and terrorists murdered an ambassador in Libya last fall, Putin apparently feels empowered to flex his muscles in Crimea.

One more example: Someone taught Sen. John McCain to use the word “feckless.” He blames our international problems on the president’s “feckless” foreign policy (the word essentially means not serious). But McCain traces the Ukraine problems to the president’s unwillingness to bomb Syria.

Well, you get the picture. They all like to call Putin a thug, but they all like his style nevertheless.

A couple of thoughts come to mind.

One is that if one wants to deter Russia from overplaying its hand in the Ukraine, it probably isn’t helpful for our own politicians to keep calling our president weak and ineffectual.

The other is that Obama is neither weak nor ineffectual.

I admit, he doesn’t wrestle bears. I’m perfectly willing for Palin to have her own fantasies of what a virile man would do, but I’m not sure bear wrestling is a good indication of strength.

In fact, Palin’s comments sort of remind me of Osama bin Laden’s claim to being the “strong horse” in reaction of America’s weakness after 9/11.

You might recall bin Laden. He’s dead.

More importantly, we did not bomb Syria. But the chemical weapons we wanted gone are pretty much gone. Obama’s critics have never come up with a scenario that would have accomplished that by bombing.

Nor did we bomb Iran, but there’s at least a possibility that Iran will stop building a nuclear bomb.

Finally, this is too early to tell, but it did seem that, for all his bluster, Putin seemed to be stepping back a bit during his press conference Tuesday.

Obama’s style isn’t that of Palin or McCain, or Graham, or of President Bush. They all believe swagger counts on the international scene.

But tell me one thing: What did we accomplish in Iraq and Afghanistan besides killing thousands of Americans and tens of thousands of Iraqis and Afghans?

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