President Vladimir Putin may have gone a step too far by going over the head of Obama and directly into the American psyche Thursday.
Putin was the surprise op-ed piece in the New York Times berating the president on his Syrian policies. People like conservative commentator Pat Buchanan called the Russian president's article "outstanding (what a surprise)," while Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez said it made him want to vomit (isn’t he busy with his own problems deriving from free plane rides and prostitutes?).
But besides these two men on opposite ends of the political spectrum, the op-ed piece affected and angered many in Washington.
The President of the Russian Federation was highly criticized for his lecturing the United States about human rights.
Nevertheless, it was an act of political smarts in a stunning propaganda coup by the 60-year-old former KGB chief who is now clearly the most powerful leader in the world thanks to the many diplomatic and political mistakes the Obama administration has made in its five years in the White House.
As the Times wrote Thursday, "Suddenly Mr. Putin has eclipsed Mr. Obama as the world leader driving the agenda in the Syria crisis. He is offering a potential, if still highly uncertain, alternative to what he has vocally criticized as America’s militarism and reasserted Russian interests in a region where it had been marginalized since the collapse of the Soviet Union."
Putin brilliantly gave his Syrian ally, strongman Bashar Assad a lifeline as he sat near the edge of political abyss. He prevented Obama from striking the Syrians without first getting backing from the United Nations Security Council, where Russia holds a veto.
That in itself is a joke considering Russia, as well as China, regularly shoot down such U.N. matters endorsed by the United States. Checkmate to Putin.
Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta labeled the op-ed piece as "weakening the resolve" of Obama to act with vigor in the Syrian matter. "First and foremost, we have to understand that President Putin should be the last person to lecture the United States about our human values and our human rights and what we stand for," said the former Pentagon chief. We know what we stand for. We know what we are fighting for in the world. And I think his effort to try to do this by a column in The New York Times is just not going to work. We know who the Russians are."
The embarrassed White House besieged by the Washington press corps attempted to play down Putin’s brilliant move with one senior aide quoted in CNN as saying, Putin was now "fully invested" in dismantling Syria's chemical weapons arsenal.
The same official said Putin's dismissal of American exceptionalism was "irrelevant. He put this proposal forward and he’s now invested in it. That's good. That's the best possible reaction. He's fully invested in Syria's CW disarmament and that’s potentially better than a military strike, which would deter and degrade but wouldn’t get rid of all the chemical weapons. He now owns this. He has fully asserted ownership of it and he needs to deliver.”
Whatever way you slice it, Putin sliced up the President of the United States better than Congress could ever think of doing.
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