WashPost’s David Ignatius Cheers On Obama ‘Trying To Understand’ The Way Putin Sees The World

Appearing on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday, The Washington Post’s David Ignatius did his best to shill for President Obama following the president’s interview with CBS anchorman Scott Pelley.

Speaking with moderator Bob Schieffer on Sunday, Ignatius opined, “It's crucial for statesmen to try to see the world as their adversaries see it” while urging President Obama to see the world through Vladimir Putin’s eyes. [See video below.]

The Post columnist touted how “in that comment about the deeply held grievance that motivates Putin, I thought Obama was trying to do that. And the trick is to understand your adversary, but maintain your demands that your adversary behave in a responsible way.”

Ignatius doubled down in his defense of Obama and lectured that “If Putin watched it he would say here is an American president who’s at least trying to understand the way I see the world.”

Interestingly, the view that Obama should see the world through their adversary’s eyes was not expressed during President Bush’s tenure. In June 2007, The New York Times belittled the Republican’s efforts to work with Putin:

President Bush’s June 2001 declaration that he had looked Russia’s Vladimir Putin in the eye and “was able to get a sense of his soul” was greeted with bemusement and also relief. The cowboy president wasn’t, after all, going to start another cold war. But that sudden effusiveness wasn’t as sudden as it appeared.

Preparing for that first summit, Mr. Bush met at the White House with a group of outside experts, some of whom urged him to pay attention to Mr. Putin’s already emerging autocratic tendencies. Mr. Bush had talked tough about Russia during the campaign but now had only one thing on his mind: getting Moscow to drop its objections to his missile defense plans. His goal for the meeting, he said, was to make Mr. Putin feel comfortable.

When Mr. Bush announced in December that he was pulling out of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, the Russian leader made only pro forma complaints. Six years later, Mr. Bush is still emphasizing the personal and only episodically taking note of all that’s gone wrong in Moscow.

Rather than praise President Obama, Ignatius should hold the Democrat to the same standards The New York Times held President Bush to while they mercifully criticized his foreign policy.

See relevant transcript below.  


CBS

Face the Nation

March 30, 2014

BOB SCHIEFFER: You know, Scott Pelley had what I thought was a very interesting interview with the president when he was in Rome. And the president speculated on what he thought was motivating Putin. Here is part of what he said. 

BARACK OBAMA: I think he's been willing to show a deeply held grievance about what he considers to be the loss of the Soviet Union. You would have thought that after a couple of decades that there’d be an awareness on the part of any Russian leader that the path forward is not to revert back to the kinds of practices that were so prevalent during the Cold War, but in fact to move forward. 

SCHIEFFER: What did you make of the president's comment? 

DAVID IGNATIUS: I thought it was a first-rate interview. It’s worth seeing in its entirety. In the clip that you showed, President Obama I thought was trying to do something that I just heard Henry Kissinger at a private gathering at Yale say, which is that it's crucial for statesmen to try to see the world as their adversaries see it. And in that comment about the deeply held grievance that motivates Putin, I thought Obama was trying to do that. And the trick is to understand your adversary but maintain your demands that your adversary behave in a responsible way. So I think that little piece if Putin watched it he would say here is an American president who’s at least trying to understand the way I see the world.

Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer is a News Analyst at the Media Research Center.