Ron Fournier, usually a dependable Barack Obama acolyte, has attacked the President in the National Journal this week for his apparent indifference to Vladimir Putin’s motivations as he seizes Crimea.
On a playground or in a bar, the most important thing to know about a bully is his motivation. What ticks him off? Who’s his next victim? If it’s you, how do you avoid a butt-kicking?
On the world stage, Vladimir Putin is a bully–and President Obama not only seems clueless about the Russian leader’s inner drive, he embraces his ambivalence. “I’m less interested in motivation,” Obama said Monday in The Hague, “and more interested in the facts and the principles that not only the United States but the entire international community are looking to uphold.”
Fournier claims he was “disturbed” by Obama’s attitude, saying that Obama should “lie awake at night concerned about the motivation of U.S. adversaries, whose first meeting of every day involves an intelligence briefing on the motivations of global actors.” He continues by stating that Obama simply doesn’t care, then adds that Obama’s “handling of leaders in Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Syria, China, and most recently Russia exposes a lack of empathy and sophistication.”
Fournier notes that Obama confessed he was less interested in Putin’s motivations than Putin’s defiance of the international principles, quoting Obama intoning, “That’s not new” when confronted with Putin’s desire to control Ukraine. He quotes Obama saying, “So I think that will be a bad choice for President Putin to make, but, ultimately, he is the president of Russia, and he’s the one who’s going to be making that decision. He just has to understand there’s a choice to be made here.”
Fournier snarls, “In other words, the bully has stolen your lunch money without a fight and now you’re telling him, ‘It would be a bad choice to take one more penny from anybody in this lunchroom, Buster!'”
Leaving behind Obama’s foreign policy ineptitude, Fournier proceeds to rip Obama’s lack of interest in the motivations of his domestic rivals. He writes, “Rather than understanding why the GOP is moving rightward, helping its leadership tame party extremists (as he must do with the Left), and finding issues that help both sides claim victories, Obama surrendered to polarization and gridlock. Actually, he is a champion of it.”
Fournier highlights the battles Obama fights with the GOP: “From fights with Congress over the federal budget and his nominations, to gun control, immigration reform, health care, and Syria, the president has been (to borrow the language he used on Putin) more interested in the facts and the principles than in GOP motivations.”
Fournier then asserts, “Putin knows his enemies. Obama dismisses his. And the world notices.” He concludes, “So when Obama tells the world that ‘Russia is acting out of weakness,’ he risks sounding like the guy who gets beat up in a bar then brags about the bully’s bloody knuckles.”