Obama likes to mock the opposition:

“Have you noticed that everyone of these candidates say, ‘Obama’s weak. Putin’s kicking sand in his face. When I talk to Putin, he’s going to straighten out,'” Obama said, impersonating a refrain among Republican candidates that he’s allowed Russian President Vladimir Putin too much leeway.

“Then it turns out they can’t handle a bunch of CNBC moderators at the debate. Let me tell you, if you can’t handle those guys, then I don’t think the Chinese and the Russians are going to be too worried about you,” Obama said.

Of course, Obama has never had to handle anything even remotely like the questions at that CNBC debate, since the MSM is respectful to him to the point of obsequiousness, and debate moderators have gone so far as to carry his water when he seems about to falter. In 2007, he and Hillary Clinton boycotted a debate that had been scheduled to be co-hosted by Fox News; the other co-host was the Congressional Black Caucus, but apparently even that hosting balancing act wasn’t quite friendly enough.

Obama has been protected from anything like those CNBC questions from the press for much of his public life, and as president he has assiduously avoided (and criticized, as well as banned) press members who might even come close.

As for his assertion that the Republican candidates “can’t handle” the moderators of CNBC, the overwhelming consensus among all but the most extreme pundits on the left was that the Republicans’ attack hit its mark and drew metaphoric blood.

And then there are the Chinese and the Russians. Does anyone on earth except Obama (and perhaps Valerie Jarrett) believe that the Chinese and Russians are afraid of him, even one iota? They might be afraid that his policies will end up causing some sort of conflagration, and/or the escalation of Islamic terrorism, of course. But afraid of negotiating with Obama, or of him calling their bluffs? It’s laughable. And we can certainly include the Iranians in that group, as well.

I would wager that the Chinese and Russians would be a great deal more afraid of the toughness of almost anyone on that debate stage last Wednesday than of dealing with Obama. Which of the Republican candidates would they be most afraid of? I’m not sure, but it wouldn’t be Bush and it wouldn’t be Kasich. Trump, Cruz, and Fiorina might be the leaders in that regard, with Christie and Rubio somewhere after that. I’m not sure about Carson, but I think he’d ultimately be intimidating, too, of the “speak softly and carry a big stick” variety.

Obama is using an interesting technique—Alinsky’s rule #5 advocating the use of ridicule as a potent weapon—to attack Republicans in their strong suit. In other words, he’s well aware, I believe, that the Republicans are considered more intimidating to China and Russia than he is. He’s also well aware of—and has been instrumental in orchestrating and using—the fact that the press is generally very friendly to him. But he sees the CNBC debate as an opportunity to cut into that narrative by making a false and mocking assertion that Republicans backed off from and were somehow fearful of the CNBC moderators, and then another false equivalence between dealing with press insults during a debate that’s supposed to be a showcase for your thoughts in front of the American people, and the very different process of negotiation with a geopolitical enemy or rival.

[Neo-neocon is a writer with degrees in law and family therapy, who blogs at neo-neocon.]


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