U.S. foreign policy ruled Sunday’s TV talk.
Although they didn’t quite see eye to eye, two standout Republican Senators with possible 2016 Presidential ambitions kept yesterday’s roster of television punditry squarely on the topic of America’s role in policing the rest of the world.
Senators Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas), fresh off an invigorating CPAC welcome that saw them finish first and second, respectively, in the conservative conference’s annual Presidential straw poll, each sat for interviews on major networks Sunday to talk about whether, and how, the U.S. should weigh in on Russia’s continued intervention in the tumultuous political affairs of another former Soviet state.
Both men invoked former President Ronald Reagan’s tough-but-approachable brand of diplomacy as they criticized President Barack Obama’s weak-sauce rhetoric toward Russian President Vladimir Putin. However, Paul and Cruz interpreted the reach of Reagan’s language a little differently.
“[Reagan] said to [Mikhail Gorbachev] our potential adversary, ‘Don’t mistake our reluctance for war for a lack of resolve.’ People knew that with Ronald Reagan,” Paul told “Fox News Sunday.”
“They still need to know that with the United States. And part of the problem is, I think, this President [Obama] hasn’t projected enough strength, and hasn’t shown a priority to the national defense. That is something that, were I in charge, I would.”
Sounds like Paul is thinking about life in the White House.
Cruz was a bit more definitive in his Reagan-channeling Sunday, insinuating to ABC’s “This Week” that the United States has a proper moral justification to act, at pivotal historic moments, as a global police force.
“… I think there’s a vital role [for U.S. intervention], just as Ronald Reagan did,” said Cruz, invoking the GOP’s favorite President on his own terms. “When Ronald Reagan called the Soviet Union an ‘evil empire,’ when he stood in front the Brandenburg gate and said, ‘Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall,’ those words changed the course of history.”
Like Paul, Cruz used his post-CPAC TV junket to play upon the idea that, were he the current occupant of the White House, America would be handling international crises differently. He described the Obama White House as a friend to foreign aggression and an enemy of America’s own diplomatic corps.
“You’d better believe that Putin sees that in Benghazi: four Americans murdered, and nothing happens,” said Cruz. “No retribution. You’d better believe that Putin sees that in Syria: Obama draws a ‘red line,’ and ignores it.”
On the whole, Cruz sounded a lot more hawkish than Paul — even though each relied on the Reagan diplomatic legacy to make his point.
Elsewhere, the talking heads cast about to give the Obama Administration a pass on yet another week of inaction and mixed signals concerning what, if anything, will spur the U.S. to action in the awkward Russia-Ukraine conflict.
Deputy National Security adviser Tony Blinken appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press” to describe how Obama is employing his community organizing philosophy to the rest of the world in fomenting a consensus-based opposition to Russia’s Ukrainian encroachment.
“[T]he President [is] mobilizing the international community in support of Ukraine, to isolate Russia for its actions in Ukraine, and to reassure our allies and partners,” Blinken said. “We’ve seen the President put together a major international support package. He’s invited the Ukrainian prime minister, [Arseniy] Yatsenyuk, to come to the White House on Wednesday, to further demonstrate that support, and to consult with him.”
Hoo, boy. Putin, look out.