Ten years ago this fall, then-President Barack Obama ridiculed Mitt Romney’s assessment that Russia is “our number one geopolitical foe.” In a tense presidential debate, on October 22, 2012, Obama dismissed the then-Republican presidential nominee with this mockery: “The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back, because the Cold War's been over for 20 years.” In 2022, outlets such as CNN have belatedly began to admit that the Obama/Biden administration was wrong and Romney was right.
With Russian invading Ukraine again, and Europe in chaos, it’s a good time to revisit the moment. Here’s video of the moment:
All during the presidential election year of 2012, networks like MSNBC mocked Romney for his stance on Russia, defending the Obama/Biden team. On March 27, 2012, after playing a clip of the Republican labeling Russia “our number one geopolitical foe,” Hardball host Chris Matthews berated:
I don’t know what decade this guy is living....It’s not Stalin over there. It’s not Khrushchev. It’s not Brezhnev. It’s Medvedev....It’s another country in the world. It’s no longer the Soviet Union. Is he trying to play Ronald Reagan here or what?
Talking to Matthews, journalist Cynthia Tucker scolded, “It made Romney look dumb. He’s not a dumb man. But he said something that was clearly dumb.” Matthews scoffed, “It’s not the mid-1970s any more. This is the 21st century, Mr. Romney.”
Oops. Tucker and Matthews's comments didn’t age well. The day before, on March 26, 2012, an incredulous Wolf Blitzer on CNN defended the Obama/Biden team, pressing Romney on taking Russia seriously: “But you think Russia is a bigger foe right now than, let’s say, Iran or China or North Korea? Is that — is that what you’re suggesting, Governor?”
In 2014, when Russia invaded Crimea, ABC and CBS ignored the Obama/Biden gaffe from the 2012 presidential election. Only Peter Alexander on the March 5, 2014 Today noted the obvious:
Republicans have repeatedly attacked President Obama's Russia policy as weak and naive.... Helping fuel that criticism, this moment from the 2012 campaign, where President Obama mocked Governor Mitt Romney for calling Russia America's number one geopolitical foe.
A decade later, on February 22, 2022, CNN finally admitted that Obama and Vice President Biden were wrong about Russia and Romney was right:
Now that Russia has invaded Ukraine yet again, and that Joe Biden is president and not vice president, it’s time for journalists to look more critically at the history of Democratic presidents being wrong on Russia. Maybe this time, don't wait a decade to do it.