The president is trying to brush away concerns about his disturbing comments to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, but his excuse is a lot of the same spin we’ve been hearing from the White House since yesterday:
“The only way I get this stuff done is If I’m consulting with the Pentagon, with Congress, if I’ve got bipartisan support and frankly, the current environment is not conducive to those kinds of thoughtful consultations,” Obama told reporters following a meeting with the presidents of Russia and Kazakhstan. “I think the stories you guys have been writing over the last 24 hours is pretty good evidence of that.” …
On Tuesday, Obama said his comments, though not intended for public consumption, were “not a matter of hiding the ball — I’m on record” about wanting to reduce nuclear weapons stockpiles. Though he spoke bluntly to Medvedev, Obama insisted that the thrust of his remarks was in line with what he said in his Monday speech at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies and in other public statements.
Read the New York Times coverage of Obama’s explanation this morning to get an idea of how fast the media is trying to sink this story. The spin is that Obama was simply being pragmatic. Of course he can’t deal with an issue as complex as missile defense during an election year, what with all those radical Republicans in Congress trying to sabotage his chances in November, and the media jumping all over every little perceived controversy. “I think the stories you guys have been writing over the last 24 hours is pretty good evidence of that,” Obama told reporters this morning. Can you believe the nerve of the press to actually report on the president’s hot-mic conversation with Medvedev?
If Obama had been caught on the hot mic saying, “This is my reelection year. After my election, I can actually get something done on this,” that might mesh with his excuse today that he can’t “get this stuff done” because the politically-charged election year “is not conducive to those kinds of thoughtful consultations.”
But Obama didn’t say that. He said: “This is my last election. After my election, I have more flexibility.” That doesn’t sound like someone who is primarily concerned about reaching a bipartisan agreement with Congress. That sounds like someone implying that he can personally offer more after he’s no longer beholden to voters (the key words being “my last election”).
As Charles Krauthammer explained on Fox News last night:
‘This is my last election.’ That’s his way of saying with a nod and a wink, ‘Look, you guys have a free hand because you run a dictatorship, your elections are rigged. Well, ours aren’t rigged, but once I get passed my last election, I’m unleashed. I can do anything I want.
And what he’s saying is, ‘you know that reset I began three years ago where I completely undermined our allies in Eastern Europe. I cancelled the missile defense system and I began a process in which our supremacy in missile defenses is now negotiable, which the Republicans have never allowed to be negotiable.’
‘Well, after election day, I can’t speak about it now of course because it’s my last election and Americans won’t actually like that — after election day, I’ll be open.’
This speaks to the deepest concerns conservatives have about an Obama second term.