It didn’t take long for Russian President Dmitri Medvedev to respond to Mitt Romney’s assertion that his country is the “number one geopolitical foe” of the US. Medvedev told American presidential candidates to “check their clocks,” as the year is 2012 and “not the mid-1970s”:
Romney clarified his statement yesterday by defining the “foe” remark as separate from “threat,” as Allahpundit predicted last night. While Romney says that a nuclear-armed Iran and/or North Korea represents the biggest threat to the US, Russia “aligns” itself with these bad actors. That’s certainly true; Russia has blocked sanctions efforts on Iran, at least, for years. They also sent “anti-terrorist troops” to Syria this month to back up Iranian ally Bashar Assad in Syria, a deliberate thumb in the eye to NATO, which had called for Assad to step aside and to stop firing on demonstrators. Russia is certainly not an ally, even if they’re not the binary opponent they were in “the mid-1970s.”
However, China also blocks sanctions against Iran, and hasn’t provided much cooperation on Syria, either. Economically, China is a much more worrisome force, although they’re also one of our biggest creditors, a situation that the Obama administration has made worse through its massive deficits. And whatever else one can say about Russia or China, I’m pretty sure that they’re not running assassination rings inside the Beltway as the Iranians have done.
Attempting to trade missile defense to gain political advantage in the election is bad no matter with which country Obama makes that deal, but we shouldn’t overplay the hand by taking the focus off of Obama’s naked manipulation of national security for his own electoral purposes. That hand will be powerful in the 2012 elections, The Hill writes:
Republicans used an unscripted remark by President Obama on Monday to label him as someone who could easily change his positions if he wins reelection.
In doing so, they sought to turn the tables on the White House, which had pounced on comments an aide to GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney made about the general election being akin to an Etch A Sketch toy.
BuzzFeed reports that Democrats are already panicking over the quote:
President Barack Obama today shrugged off an overheard private conversation with Russian President Dimitri Medvedev in which he suggested he’d be more “flexible” on missile defense after his re-election.
But the frantic Democratic reaction to his comments, and an intense effort to turn a presidential gaffe into a partisan food-fight, belies the official White House dismissal of the incident. …
Obama’s remark has already prompted outrage from Republicans, who asked what other deals with foreign leaders are being kept from the American people. The Republican National Committeereleased a video asking “what else is on Obama’s agenda after the election that he isn’t telling you?”
But Republicans and the Romney campaign see the Democratic response as a short-term effort to what will be a long-term problem for Obama. His promise of more flexibility to Russia — still the subject of much distrust by the American public who grew up during the Cold War — is easy fodder for an October attack ad. And his comment plays into the latest Republican lines of attack — that he’s a typical politician who is going to unleash his inner-most liberal if reelected.
That line of attack was already on the GOP plate, but Obama provided the ammunition all by himself. There’s nothing more powerful than having a short, punchy video clip that validates the worst of what opponents have to say about a candidate. It attacks Obama on the basic trust needed to woo voters, and it’s going to do a lot of damage — as long as the focus remains on Obama.