The White House announced sanctions against Russia this Monday, but as expected, that wasn't going to satisfy Republicans or the likes of Sen. John McCain. MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell had McCain on to lob more stones at President Obama this Monday and our friend Steve Benen did a nice job of summing up that interview:
And now it’s time to guess what congressional Republicans are complaining about. Is it (a) Obama using an executive order to pursue a policy they said they wanted; (b) Obama waiting to too long to endorse the same policy they said they wanted; or (c) arguing that the sanctions don’t go far enough to meet GOP standards. If you said “C,” give yourself a prize.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Monday criticized President Obama for not offering military assistance to Ukraine. Obama on Monday announced sanctions against 11 Russian and Ukrainian officials following Sunday’s disputed referendum in Crimea, but McCain said the president should have gone further by putting military assistance on the table.
After Obama announced the same sanctions McCain endorsed last week, McCain told msnbc’s Andrea Mitchell, “The president’s response, I don’t how it could have been any weaker, besides doing nothing.” On Twitter, the senator added that it was “incredible” that today’s announcement didn’t include military resources.
Greg Sargent has more on what we've been seeing from Republicans and their posturing on Ukraine: The Morning Plum: As Crimea votes to secede, demands pour in for more effective posturing:
A day after a referendum in Crimea on breaking away from Ukraine and joining Russia passed with 96.77 percent of the vote, encouraged by a rising presence of Russian troops, the Crimean parliament followed suit with its own vote asking to be annexed. Here at home, people will quickly begin asking “Who lost Crimea?,” as though events in Eastern Europe are being determined not by internal Ukrainian politics, longstanding ethnic divisions, Russian opportunism and a dozen other factors, but rather by what we in the United States would like to have happen.
You can bet that today and in the days to come, Republicans will be declaring their outrage, and insisting that this never would have happened had Barack Obama not been so weak. They’ve had a fetish about Obama’s alleged weakness in foreign affairs pretty much from the moment he took office. At first it was the obsession with the idea that Obama was “apologizing for America,” something they repeated endlessly, despite the fact that it was demonstrably untrue (my personal favorite was the Heritage Foundation’s much-linked “Barack Obama’s Top Ten Apologies,” not one of which was an actual apology). And now it’s the idea that if only we were showing more “strength,” whatever that’s supposed to mean, every other country would do exactly what we want.
If you’re reading this blog, you’re a person who pays lots of attention to current events and politics. So, without looking, can you name something these Republicans actually want Obama to do? Probably not, because whenever they’re asked, they come up with things like “make it clear” to Vladimir Putin that further incursions will not be tolerated. “Get tough.” Don’t “show weakness.” In other words, their complaint is that President Obama has not engaged in the proper kind of posturing.
Now maybe that’s because some of his loudest critics are in Congress, and posturing takes up most of those members’ time, particularly when they’ve all but given up trying to pass laws. A group of senators did rush off to Ukraine over the weekend, but somehow their presence did not bring an end to the crisis. (Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for members of Congress going places; after all, travel broadens the mind, and there are more than a few minds on Capitol Hill that could use some broadening. But the idea that in the midst of a crisis they hightail it to the hotspot as though they might actually accomplish anything is kind of absurd.)
The trouble is that unless we’re willing to start World War III, the number of things we can do to force Putin to do something he would prefer not to do, or prevent Putin from doing something he does want to do, is rather limited. Look, for instance, at the op-ed John McCain wrote over the weekend in the New York Times laying out his plan for getting tough. What did it involve? Working with our allies to support Ukraine, sanctioning Russian officials and boycotting the upcoming G-8 meeting. Okay, so the Obama administration is already doing all those things, or at least is about to. But that’s not all: “We must rearm ourselves morally and intellectually to prevent the darkness of Mr. Putin’s world from befalling more of humanity,” wrote McCain. Just you wait, Vladimir. We’re about to undertake a moral and intellectual rearming! In other words, more effective posturing.