It used to be that our country spoke with one voice whenever we found ourselves confronted by issues from outside our borders. Politics were set aside and our president would speak on behalf of the nation; his most vocal detractors remaining silent out of unified respect for the office. We may have been divided politically but we stood united in the eyes of the world.
Sadly for us that is no longer the case.
Violence has broken out once again in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev. Angry anti-government protestors clashed with police when a cease fire agreement fell apart. At least 28 are reported dead and 300 injured during the two days of violence.
The Ukrainian government is in bed with Putin. The protestors, tired of living under the Russian boot, want closer ties with the West. They want the current government replaced.
President Obama weighed in on the conflict Wednesday, condemning the violence and warning that there would be consequences if it continues.
Instead of rallying around the president’s condemnation of the violent acts of the Ukrainian government, the president’s political opponents on the right used the opportunity to attack the president and score political points. Referencing his failure to enforce the “red line“ he drew in Syria, right wing politicians and pundits alike referred to the president’s comments as “hollow” and his actions as “impotent.”
“Have more empty words ever been uttered by an American president...the president’s latest threat is probably evoking belly laughs in Kiev.” Peter Wehner.
“Obama is acting like Jimmy Carter on steroids…It would have been nice to have had the credibility of being at least respected by adversaries or admired by our allies.” Ollie North.
“Well, announcing expectations is all very well. But I’m not sure who is impressed by it. What we are seeing in the Ukraine, what we have seen in Syria, and what we will see again in Iran is a complete failure of what I think was the centerpiece of the president’s foreign policy and that is the reset of relations with Russia.” George Will.
There is an old adage in politics that says that you are only as strong on foreign policy as you are economically at home. Needless to say we are in the throes of a weakened economy. It is hard to gain public support on international issues when an already war weary nation is struggling to make ends meet.
We have said many times that a sitting president bears the responsibility for that which occurs on his watch. Certainly the brunt of our economic condition as well as our place on the world stage will be placed at the feet of this president. But for Republicans to shirk any responsibility for our current state of affairs is disingenuous at best.
We are a war weary, bloated superpower whose place in the world is not what it used to be. Part of our fall from grace comes from our inability to govern ourselves. We are so gridlocked by partisan political ideology that we are incapable of moving the country forward. The world stands witness to our stagnation and corrosive behavior and reacts accordingly. Add to that the disgraceful public displays of contempt toward our elected president and it is little wonder that they pay us no mind.
Republicans have been willing participants in the erosion of our country’s status on the world stage. Two unnecessary wars, a willingness to default on our debt, shutting down the government and an ongoing policy of obstructionism has hurt us domestically and weakened us in the eyes of our adversaries. For Republicans to lay all of this on the president is like pouring sugar in the gas tank of the fire truck and then criticizing the fire department for not responding when the house goes up in flames.