Roger L. Simon

What Putin and Obama Do and Don't Have in Common

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White gloves versus boxing gloves.

With Vladimir Putin giving Barack Obama the back of his gloved hand in the Crimea, it’s easy to forget what the two leaders have in common. Neither of them likes democracy very much.

In Putin’s case that couldn’t be more obvious, but Obama has given more than his share of signals to that effect in recent days, informing a complaisant Congress during the State of the Union that he was going to override them and take the law into his own hands by executive fiat if they didn’t go along with his policies. His number one consigliere, Valerie Jarrett, repeated essentially the same thing during a recent interview on The O’Reilly Factor.

Unfortunately, that’s about it in the similarity department (except they both seem to like sports). In two other major categories, the dissimilarities are striking. Putin is one tough dude and a patriot for his country. Obama is neither of these. In evidence I offer one five-letter word: Syria. I could offer a lot more, but I don’t want to bore you.

The point is, as Putin threatens Ukraine and who knows what else, China moves on the Japanese islands, the Iranian mullahs jaw on while moving ever closer to nuclear capability, the already nuclear North Koreans improve their ballistics while starving their people, Venezuela approaches civil war, al-Qaeda and its myriad cousins metastasize across North Africa, the Levant, and beyond, the West has at its helm someone who is not only a documented liar (“if you like your plan,” etc., etc.) but who is also essentially a blowhard. Even worse, and ultimately even more dangerous to our health and/or survival, our president is a monumentally poor judge of character. He is clueless.

Consider this: Obama preferred the company of Egypt’s vile Islamist Morsi and Turkey’s equally vile Islamist Erdogan (not to mention Putin himself, whom many recall Obama reassured, via Medvedev, of his coming “flexibility” with the Russian president after Obama’s own reelection) to Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu. Talk about not knowing who your friends really are.

Well, scratch that. Maybe those really are his friends, which makes the situation yet more horrifying. (Only the editors of the L.A. Times know for sure — and they won’t release the Khalidi tape.)

Speaking of which, much like a schoolyard bully when another bully is about to beat him up, Obama turned on Netanyahu (just before the DC arrival of the PM of the smaller nation for the AIPAC conference) by playing the “boycott card.” He warned the Israeli PM, in an interview with Jeffrey Goldberg of Bloomberg News, that he’d better make a deal with the Palestinians — I suppose to Obama’s liking — or his country would become a pariah. Worse yet, Obama implied he wouldn’t help the Jewish state if it did have to stand on its own.

Is that really “worse yet”? I leave that for you to decide. Nevertheless, it was interesting watching C-SPAN today as the coverage flipped between the United Nations Security Council, where Russia was being excoriated for invading Ukraine, and the AIPAC conference where, as PJM’s Bridget Johnson reported, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, himself an Orthodox Jew, received a stony reception. As Bridget wrote, John Kerry didn’t fare much better with the audience.

One could assume it would have been the same for Vladimir Putin had he, although it would have been extraordinarily unlikely, been invited to address AIPAC. But one can also assume that people would have paid a lot more attention to him than to Kerry, Lew or anyone else from the Obama administration. No one listens to them anymore — locally or globally.