Historically, American presidents use their press conferences to send bold messages to their domestic and international adversaries, capitalizing on the global attention the event inevitably generates.
However, President Barack Obama’s failure to exploit his Wednesday bully pulpit by reading the riot act to Russian President Vladimir Putin and the bloodthirsty leaders of Hamas earned him the scorn of Fox News Channel’s panel of analysts in no uncertain terms.
Following host Brett Baier’s summary of the president’s blasé responses to reporters’ questions, the four pundits offered their commentaries.
National Review Online Editor Jonah Goldberg began the onslaught with one of his inimitable sarcastic mortar shells. “Well, first, it’s such a privilege to listen to a master orator, I mean, it was riveting.”
“I thought his answer to the question on Ukraine was shocking,” he continued. “When he says the sanctions are working as intended, no, they’re clearly not! This is a perfect example of leading from behind…They’re supposed to deter Putin and he’s not deterred.”
The National Journal’s Ron Fournier agreed. “Did he say anything today that changes the dynamic in Russia or the Middle East? No. Did he say anything that would give Putin or Hamas pause? No.”
Fournier added that domestically, Obama tried to position himself as the aggrieved compromiser when it came to dealing with Congress, but the American people weren’t buying it.
A.B. Stoddard, columnist for The Hill, said she was surprised the president dodged the only question on illegal immigration, derided his contention that he really wants to work with both parties in both chambers, and panned him for failing to capitalize on the golden platform he had at the press conference to say anything of substance to Putin or Hamas.
Baier then turned to his clean-up hitter, Charles Krauthammer, regarding Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel’s remark earlier in the day that “we could be looking at war between Russia and Ukraine.”
“And his [Obama’s] answer was – to use a word he loves – extraordinary,” replied the syndicated columnist. “Lethargy, distance, disinterest, uninterest…he seemed to have zero interest in the issue, and was willing to let events dictate.”
Krauthammer said Obama clearly signaled to Putin that he doesn’t have to factor the United States in his calculations, “that we’re just going to watch.”
Similarly, he claimed Obama was disinterested and detached regarding Hamas. “He has no sympathy for Hamas? His own State Department says it’s a terrorist organization. He [Obama] said, ‘placing weapons among civilians is irresponsible? It’s a bloody war crime!” he thundered.
Krauthammer wondered why Obama held the press conference at all, “other than to signal to the bad guys that he was going on vacation, grabbing the golf clubs, and he’ll see them in a month when he gets back.”
Click here to watch the entire segment via YouTube.
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