If you spend any amount of time at all involved in New York State politics, some kind person will eventually come along and warn you that the most dangerous place that you can stand is anywhere between Chuck Schumer and a camera. This can lead to some unexpectedly uncomfortable moments, even for the Senator’s own allies. One such occasion seems to have cropped up this weekend, when Chuck attempted to “help” out the President with some useful advice on foreign policy.
To set the stage for this properly, we need to remember the difficult position which the Democrats frequently find themselves in when it comes to matters of foreign policy, war and all things potentially violent. They spent eight long years criticizing the previous administration about being too aggressive, not only on matters of going to war, but warning of “alienating the rest of the world” when dealing with allies and potential enemies alike. But when running candidates for President, they had to walk a fine line and reassure the voters that they would not be wimps who would endanger the country through their weak knee, timid approach to a dangerous world. It’s quite the balancing act.
But now that that they’re in charge, there is a need to occasionally flex those muscles and let everyone know how tough they are. This seems to be the mood currently seizing Chuck Schumer.
The New York Democrat pressed President Obama to cancel a bilateral summit and move the international economic G20 summit.
Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said President Obama should cancel a bilateral summit Russian President Vladmir Putin scheduled for later this month and push to move the international economic G20 Summit out of St. Petersburg because Putin granted asylum to NSA leaker Edward Snowden.
“I would urge the president to cancel the bilateral summit he’s having with Putin,” Schumer said Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “President Putin’s behaving like a schoolyard bully, and in my experience, I’ve learned that unless you stand up to that bully, they ask for more and more and more.”
For once, Schumer may have actually latched on to a good idea. But since he’s one Senator in a group of 100, that doesn’t really matter all that much. What does matter is that he managed, in one quick talk show hit, to pin Barack Obama up against the wall. He succeeded in framing the tense situation between Washington and Moscow as a standoff between a tough guy and the nerd who didn’t want to be shoved in the locker again, but hadn’t yet decided what to do about it. If Obama doesn’t move forward with a full speed dismissal of Putin, cancelling the meeting and moving the summit, then his opponents will have Chuck Schumer’s own quote to replay, identifying the President as the skinny kid who got shoved around by the bully.
That may be the play Obama was planning on anyway, but if he’s concerned at all with the political optics to fall out from this confrontation, one of his options just became severely devalued. Thanks, Chuck!