Never before did I think Obama really might believe he’s had the upper hand on Russia lately but I don’t know how else to interpret this soundbite. It was Putin who came to Obama’s “rescue” two years ago with a plan to disarm Assad after O had boxed himself in on his “red line” threats to bomb Syria over WMD use. It was Putin who invaded Crimea and is now threatening the Baltic states knowing that NATO and its backbone force of American troops are a shadow of what it once was. It was Putin who answered Obama’s calls for new leadership in Syria by doubling down with military support for Assad, forcing the U.S. to back off its demands for immediate regime change. Putin is kicking sand in his face and any commander-in-chief even vaguely in touch with reality would be loath to acknowledge it knowing how that would make him appear. Either this guy has lost touch now that he’s slipped into de facto retirement and honestly thinks he’s “handling Putin” or he figured he could get away with this knowing that a friendly crowd would guffaw even at a perfectly apt Republican criticism just because that’s what partisans do.
But that’s only half the weirdness. The other half is the fact that Obama himself has whined plenty of times about unfriendly media, most notably Fox News. He joined Hillary and the rest of the Democratic primary field in 2007 by boycotting a debate hosted by Fox because the left demanded it. Two years later, as president, the administration tried to muscle Fox out of a series of interviews with “pay czar” Ken Feinberg even though all members of the White House press pool were otherwise invited to participate. Only when the other networks threatened to boycott the interviews too did Team O relent. Anyone who watched that CNBC trainwreck and has watched debates hosted by Fox knows that Bret Baier and Chris Wallace would have been more respectful of Democratic candidates than John Harwood and Becky Quick were of the Republicans. Obama’s house is awfully glassy for him to be throwing this particular stone. In fact, I’m not sure what he means when he says the GOP couldn’t handle CNBC. They couldn’t? Nearly everyone on stage challenged the moderators over the course of the night. If they had meekly played along and then complained about the debate afterward, that would have been grounds for claiming that Republicans had buckled before a hostile adversary. But they didn’t.
What you’re really seeing here, I think, is Princess’s ego showing. The charge that Putin is kicking sand in his face stings because it’s obviously true, and he didn’t pause in his annoyance before hitting back to consider whether maybe he wasn’t a gigantic hypocrite in doing so. Simple as that.