CNN's John King: Obama Claimed 'He Could Unite The World,' But Can't Get It Done Versus Russia

On Monday's New Day, CNN's John King refreshingly spotlighted one of President Obama's key campaign promises from 2008 about foreign policy during a discussion about how to respond to Russia's aggression in Crimea. King wondered if "a President who came to office saying he could unite the world and would have better international diplomacy than George W. Bush – at least on this one, doesn't have any good options."

The anchor was responding to a comment from Margaret Talev of Bloomberg News, who noted how "the White House doesn't really want to give a whole lot of military assistance here, and they don't think that...most of Europe is going to go along with significant sanctions." [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]

King brought on Talev and Politico's Manu Raju for the panel discussion segment, and led with a recent comment from the President's deputy national security adviser, who acknowledged that "even if assistance were to go to Ukraine, that is very unlikely to change Russia's calculus or prevent an invasion." The CNN journalist turned to Talev and asked, "It doesn't sound like they think anything they can do is going to change Vladimir Putin's behavior. Is that fair?"

The Bloomberg News correspondent replied, "part of it is they're trying to manage expectations," and continued with her assertion that the administration doesn't "think...most of Europe is going to go along with significant sanctions." When King followed up with his mention of then-candidate Obama's promise, Talev pointed out that the Democrat was also "the President who wanted the reset with the Putin and the Medvedev era," and added that the crisis in Crimea is "a real problem that they really didn't see coming until it was almost too late to tackle it."

King then noted how a proposed aid package to Ukraine is being delayed in Congress and asked Raju, "Do they have agreement to move forward, or are they still debating this in Congress as well?" Raju zeroed in on the political disagreement inside the legislative body:

MANU RAJU, POLITICO: They'll get it through the Senate, and it going to take another few days. There is enough support for that. But, you know, as you said, John, this is not going to necessarily get through the House – at least, in the current form in the Senate. Republicans object to the inclusion of IMF reforms that the White House is pushing very strongly right now – and even some Republicans in the Senate, like John McCain, go along with that. The House folks – House Republicans are objecting to that measure. If they can't agree on that, what more can they agree on? Even if there's a push for increased military aid; if you add to another Ukrainian package, does that get through? It's anybody's guess, particularly in this congressional environment.

Before moving onto a related topic, the CNN anchor remarked that "if you're watching this from Moscow and you're Vladimir Putin, these things hardly make you shake in your boots, I think."

The transcript of the relevant portion of the segment from Monday's New Day on CNN:

JOHN KING: With me this morning to share their reporting and their insights, Margaret Talev of Bloomberg News and Manu Raju of Politico. Let's start, Margaret, with the President – listen here – the President says he's united – the European allies, the United States united – they have resolve – but listen to his deputy national security adviser. They may have resolve, but do they have good options?

TONY BLINKEN, WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER (from CNN's "State of the Union"): When it comes to military assistance, we're looking at it – the facts are these: even if assistance were to go to Ukraine, that is very unlikely to change Russia's calculus or prevent an invasion.

KING: It doesn't sound like they think anything they can do is going to change Vladimir Putin's behavior. Is that fair?


MARGARET TALEV, BLOOMBERG NEWS: Part of it is they're trying to manage expectations. The White House doesn't really want to give a whole lot of military assistance here, and they don't think that Angela Merkel and most of Europe is going to go along with significant sanctions. So, they don't really want to get ahead of what they can deliver, which is probably not very much right now.

KING: And so, a President who came to office saying he could unite the world and would have better international diplomacy than George W. Bush – at least on this one, doesn't have any good options?

TALEV: The President who wanted the reset with the Putin and the Medvedev era – yeah, it's a problem. It's a real problem that they really didn't see coming until it was almost too late to tackle it.

KING: And Manu, one of the things the President would like – even if it would have limited impact – would be a united Congress behind him, and a package of economic assistance and, maybe, modest aid – whatever you wanted to do with Ukraine. Well, that has been held up because of disagreements – largely among Republicans. There's a big vote in the Senate tonight to try to procedurally move forward. Do they have agreement to move forward, or are they still debating this in Congress as well?

MANU RAJU, POLITICO: They'll get it through the Senate, and it going to take another few days. There is enough support for that. But, you know, as you said, John, this is not going to necessarily get through the House – at least, in the current form in the Senate. Republicans object to the inclusion of IMF reforms that the White House is pushing very strongly right now – and even some Republicans in the Senate, like John McCain, go along with that. The House folks – House Republicans are objecting to that measure. If they can't agree on that, what more can they agree on? Even if there's a push for increased military aid; if you add that to another Ukrainian package, does that get through? It's anybody's guess, particularly in this congressional environment.

KING: And if you're watching this from Moscow and you're Vladimir Putin, these things hardly make you shake in your boots, I think.

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center