Maddow Touts Obama's 'Infinite Room' to Punish Russia With Sanctions

Providing, of course, that the Secret Service prevents kryptonite from being brought anywhere near the president.

The Obama-as-godlike-figure meme has appeared again, this time on MSNBC, though it's a safe bet on any given day that this is where it will surface, usually before the end of "Morning Joe." (Video after the jump)

It came by way of Rachel Maddow on Wednesday night as she described how President Obama has announced that an American military response to Russian encroachment on Ukraine is off the table. Not to worry, Maddow assured her audience, Obama won't be deterred otherwise --

President Obama says this is not going to be an American shooting war against Russia over the issue of Ukraine. But President Obama also said essentially that what Russia is doing is unacceptable. Secretary of State John Kerry has also been very explicit about that. He said yesterday that it is, in his words, a 'hard line' for the US if Putin pushes further into eastern Ukraine.

Not to be confused with the "red line" Obama warned would be crossed if chemical weapons were used in Syria. One gets the impression that Kerry's "hard line" can be more accurately described as a "wide line" with shifting margins.

If it is a hard line for this administration (what do you mean, "if"? ...), if this administration says that is absolutely unacceptable, and the administration is very clear that we are not using military force, we are not going to go to war over Ukraine, then what is the American government going to do? Well, the president has already put financial sanctions and travel bans on some Russian officials and some pro-Russian Ukrainian officials. He's left himself the room to ramp up those by quite a bit. Theoretically he has infinite room to ramp those up further, to make those sanctions tougher, and to also broaden the sanctions not only to more individuals but beyond individual people in order to target the Russian economy as a whole. 

Put another way, Obama can ratchet those sanctions even beyond 11 as he deems necessary.

Even if Maddow isn't claiming Obama possesses "infinite" ability against Putin, though to these ears she veers close, her suggestion is patently absurd puffery. Obama's "infinite room" to impose further sanctions on Russia is premised on an "infinite" number of sanctions, of which there are surely a finite number, and his "infinite" time to do so, with said longevity enjoyed only by the Almighty.

Maddow's claim does make sense, though, as theology for true believers in the Ecumenical, All-Encompassing Church of Obama. Make the same claim about Putin -- that "theoretically" he has "infinite room" to respond to American actions against him -- and notice how quickly it evaporates.

Jack Coleman
Liberated ex-liberal from the People's Republic of Massachusetts