Well, this can't be good. Mainstream media allies of the White House appear to be suffering from fatigue; the soaring rhetoric just isn't enough any more in the aftermath of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. A USA Today editorial gripes, "Perhaps the most surprising thing about Russia's weekend invasion of Crimea is that the U.S. and its allies were caught so flat-footed, groping for a response that didn't look weak and ineffectual."
Then there is The Washington Post.
"President Obama's foreign policy is based on fantasy," the news organization's editorial board declared, even as Secretary of State John Kerry took to the airwaves to cobble a proper response to unfolding events.
"For five years, President Obama has led a foreign policy based more on how he thinks the world should operate than on reality. It was a world in which 'the tide of war is receding' and the United States could, without much risk, radically reduce the size of its armed forces. Other leaders, in this vision, would behave rationally and in the interest of their people and the world. Invasions, brute force, great-power games and shifting alliances — these were things of the past," the Post board said.
Unfortunately, the likes of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Syrian President Bashar Assad did not get the memo.
"Military strength, trustworthiness as an ally, staying power in difficult corners of the world such as Afghanistan — these still matter, much as we might wish they did not. While the United States has been retrenching, the tide of democracy in the world, which once seemed inexorable, has been receding. In the long run, that's harmful to U.S. national security, too," the Post ultimately concluded.
'THE AGGRESSOR SETS THE RULES'
Amid all the Ukraine-centric media coverage, statements, photo-ops and editorials have come the bare-fisted warnings from those who are more interested in a reality check than fancy prose. There is an emphasis on the contrasts between Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Obama.
"Putin has been salivating over reassembling the Soviet Union, and if it weren't so serious, it would be laughably pathetic," Rush Limbaugh told his audience on Monday. "Because, as I remind you: In any conflict — I don't care if it's a bully on the schoolyard. I don't care if it's the National Football League, Major League Baseball, or anywhere. The aggressor sets the rules. Whatever the aggressor does are the rules, and you throw the rulebook out."
And talk — even fancy talk — can be cheap. Financial Times analyst Edward Luce advises Mr. Obama to ignore "the chicken hawks of Washington" and get on with something productive.
"Diplomacy is Mr. Obama's preferred weapon. Now he must prove that he knows how to wield it. The Washington debate in the past 48 hours has posed a false choice between setting a red line and doing nothing. But there is plenty Mr. Obama can do in between," Mr. Luce says.
"Rallying America's allies to the side of Ukraine's shaky government is obviously one. That must include large pledges of cash. Reassuring America's Eastern European allies that their sovereignty will be protected is another. This could include restoring the missile defense systems Mr. Obama scrapped in the days of the 'reset'. He could also accelerate plans to export US natural gas and oil to Europe to counter Moscow's energy stranglehold," Mr. Luce says, adding, "Above all, Mr. Obama needs to convince Mr. Putin that he will not be outfoxed."
THE GOP OPENS THE BIG TENT
Talk of "big tent" thinking has switched to action. The Republican National Committee has launched a trio of national advisory councils meant to shore up ties with black, Asian and Hispanic communities — framed as an "unprecedented commitment" to engage voter interest.
State lawmakers, local officials and community leaders are among the 68 new council members, along with such heavy hitters as Sen. Marco Rubio, of Florida, and Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, of Florida, and Raul Labrador, of Idaho. It's a good start, but competition is tough.
The Democratic National Committee already has 17 well-established, target-voter groups aimed at blacks, Asians and Hispanics — along with disabled people, Democrats living abroad, senior citizens, union members, the LGBT community, American Indians, rural residents and the religious community.
"I want to ensure the Republican Party is building sincere relationships in every community across the country, and our advisory councils will help make that a reality," says the ever-enthusiastic Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus. "They are all leaders in their communities, and each council member brings a unique perspective."
TEA PARTY: 2014=2010
Though its critics claim otherwise, the tea party insists it can sway significant midterm elections. The Texas primaries Tuesday are a test of sorts. The Tea Party Patriots' new Citizens Fund Super PAC has revealed its first endorsement — Katrina Pierson, who is running as a "true conservative" against Rep. Pete Sessions in the 32nd Congressional District. Immigration is the issue of choice here.
"There is already a legal path to citizenship for those wishing to immigrate to the United States. Katrina knows anyone who decided to get off that path and enter the United States illegally should not be given any sort of amnesty or reward from Congress, for it is neither fair nor equal treatment under the law," says Jenny Beth Martin, president of the fund.
"We applaud Katrina Pierson for taking a stand and we reiterate her campaign slogan: it's time to put Americans first. No more excuses," Mrs. Martin adds.
More proof that the legalization of marijuana for medical or recreational use is creating a new culture that even the late 1960s-era drug guru Timothy Leary wouldn't recognize. The first medical marijuana commercials are now airing on major Comcast cable channels, including CNBC, CNN, Fox News, ESPN, and even the Food Network, says Marijuana Doctors, a Miami-based consumer resource group that is intent on removing the "shady" connotations of the stuff.
"You wouldn't buy sushi from this guy, so why buy your medical marijuana from him?" the spot advises, portraying a drug pusher peddling weird sushi selections from inside his jacket.
"Securing the airtime for our commercial on a major network was extremely difficult, and at the same time, extremely satisfying," reasons company CEO Jason Draizin.
"We recognize that the sale and use of marijuana is still considered very controversial and we are pleased that Comcast understands that there are legitimate businesses providing legitimate and legal services to people who have legitimate needs."
POLL DU JOUR
77 percent of Americans had a favorable impression of Barbara Bush when she was in the White House.
73 percent had a favorable impression of Laura Bush when she was in the White House.
66 percent currently have a favorable impression of Michelle Obama. 43 percent of Republicans and 92 percent of Democrats agree.
56 percent of Americans overall had a favorable impression of Hillary Rodham Clinton when she was first lady.
Source: A Gallup poll of 1.023 U.S. adults conducted Feb. 6-9 and released Monday, plus Gallup historic records.
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