On ABC’s This Week, President Obama destroyed the Republican created myth that Putin saved him on Syria, and obliterated the GOP talking points on the issue.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: And you’re- and President Putin has become your unlikely partner-
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:Yeah.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: -in this. And, you know, even in this op-ed, which has stirred up a lot of controversy here in United States, he said, “There’s every reason to believe that the rebels are the ones who used the chemical weapons.” So does that tell you he’s willing to lie to protect Assad?
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Well, nobody around the world takes seriously the idea that the rebels- were the perpetrators of this—
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: He wrote it in The New York Times.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Well, I understand. What I said is nobody around the world takes seriously the idea that the rebels perpetrated this attack. Now what is true is that there are radical elements in the opposition- including folks who are affiliated with al-Qaeda, who, if they got their hands on chemical weapons, would have no compunction using them in Syria or outside of Syria.
And part of the reason why we’ve been so concerned about this chemical weapons- issue is because we don’t want- those folks gettin’ chemical weapons, anymore than we want Assad to have chemical weapons. And so the best solution is for us to get them out of there.
But- with respect to Mr. Putin- I have said consistently that where the interest of the United States and Russia converge, we need to work together. And I had talked to Mr. Putin a year ago- saying to him- the United States and Russia should work together to deal with these chemical weapons stockpiles, and to work to try to bring about a political transition-
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: But do you trust-
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: -inside of Syria.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: -he has the same goal? Do you really trust that?
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Oh, I don’t think that- Mr. Putin has the same- values that we do. And I think- obviously, by- protecting Mr. Assad- he has a different attitude about- the Assad regime. But what I’ve also said to him directly- is that we both have an interest in preventing chaos, we both have an interest in preventing terrorism, the situation in Syria right now is untenable, as long as Mr. Assad’s in power, there is gonna be some sort of conflict there, and that we should work together to try to find a way in which the interests of all the parties inside of Syria, the Alawites, the Sunnis, the Christians, that everybody is represented and that there is a way of bringing the temperature down so that- that horrible things that are happening inside the country-
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Are you-
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: -are continuing to happen.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Are you –
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: And I think there’s a way for- Mr. Putin, despite- me and him having a whole lot of differences, to play an important role in that. And so I welcome him being involved. I welcome him saying, “I will take responsibility for pushing my client, the Assad regime- to deal with these chemical weapons.”
Because- I think that if, in fact- not only Russia gets involved, but if- potentially Iran gets involved- as well in recognizing that what’s happening there is a train wreck that hurts not just Syrians but destabilizing the entire region-
The president confirmed again that he discussed this with Putin a year ago. He talked to Putin about this at the G20. The notion that Putin saved Obama is political spin by his critics who are trying to tarnish his diplomatic victory in any way that they can. It is a display of how deeply Republicans hate this president that they are so willing to label Putin a hero, not even a year after their presidential nominee called Russia our biggest rival.
Republicans are out to score cheap political points, and they can’t fathom that they were again routed by a president who has spent his presidency ten steps ahead of them. This Putin saved Obama story line is fiction that created to further the Republican agenda of making the president look weak at every turn.
Obama also confirmed that his administration got Russia to take the risk and responsibility of delivering Syrian compliance on the deal. Making Russia shift from denying the existence of Syria’s chemical weapons and Assad’s responsibility for the attack in less than a week is a sign of presidential strength.
To Republicans, diplomacy equals weakness. The right is trying to turn Obama’s strength into a shortcoming, and sacrificing facts, the truth, and consistency while trying to score cheap political points. Obama’s critics are stunned, and the comprehensiveness of the president’s victory can be seen in their retreat back to old talking points.
Mr. Easley is the founder/managing editor and Senior White House and Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA.Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association