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As Russia heightens its military activity in Ukraine, President Barack Obama's handling of the crisis is arguably "the biggest test of his presidency."

At least, that's what Politico Magazine had to say on Saturday, thus keeping alive the media's tradition of dubbing every major obstacle before Obama his "biggest" or "greatest" test. The use of the phrase has not been limited to foreign crises in Ukraine, Syria or Libya, but has also been bestowed upon domestic challenges such as the health care law and reducing the debt.

What follows is a long page detailing all of the media-declared biggest tests of Obama's presidency, some of them (visiting Israel, firing a general) considerably less testy than others (dealing with a Congress that has gone off the rails at regular intervals since he arrived in office). I suppose some of them were during sweeps week. The phrase also often denotes disagreement, such that "the biggest test" of the presidency usually boils down to whether the president will buckle under and do what a particular critic demands of them, but it can also apply when the critic has absolutely no ideas of his or her own to denote the general idea that by gum, the president should be doing something, something unspecified but very bold and aggressive and manly and god-knows-what. By gum.

Apropos of nothing, then:

President Barack Obama might as well have invited Russian President Vladimir Putin to invade Ukraine, conservatives charge, after years of what they call foreign affairs accommodation at best — and weakness, at worst — that has put the administration on defense against domestic critics amid the deepening Ukrainian crisis.
Please read below the fold for more on this story.

These critics would be John McCain (R-Sunday), Jim Inhofe (R-NotAsSuccessfulAsMcCain) and the like, the usual hawk brigades whose vision of foreign policy consists of hitting the "bomb" button repeatedly until America Wins. According to Inhofe, the trouble in Ukraine is all because we haven't been spending enough money on the military.

Obama’s “disarming of America over the past five years limits our options in Ukraine today,” Inhofe said. “I just returned from Georgia in January, and they fear Russia will further invade their territory next. Throughout this administration, I have also warned that if the United States does not maintain a ready and capable military, we would surrender our global influence and leave a vacuum that will be filled by Russia. I warned this day was coming, and it is here.”
Heaven knows our military has been decaying at a rapid clip since Obama declined to make Iraq the 51st state. I don't know how it's decaying, mind you, or how many more Republicans Obama needs to put in charge of it before it will stop decaying—all I know is that the day a Republican Congress discovered Wars Cause Massive Freaking Deficits is the day the magic died.

What's been unclear so far is exactly what the Sunday Brigades are proposing. It is looking as if the diplomatic and economic consequences for Russian action from the international community as a whole will be substantive; if there are military options that they would prefer they should probably pipe up with those. You know—just so the rest of us can be impressed with their genius.

“The world does not expect the United States just ‘to stand with the international community,’ as the president said,” said former Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), now president of the conservative Heritage Foundation. “They expect the United States to lead. Weak statements, history has proven, only invite aggression.”
So we need to make bolder statements, is that the "biggest test" of the presidency? Fine. Putin, you're a wanker. Here, I'm going to hold up this scathing editorial cartoon depicting you as a large dog humping a car: take that. Our dads can beat up your dad. Are we bold now, conservative think tank president, or did you have something else in mind?

We ought to be genuinely curious, here. Many of us have reckoned that the early response to Russian actions in Ukraine would be largely identical whether a Democrat or a Republican was in the White House, because despite the doctrine of maximum boldtalky the tools of diplomacy, at least the non-killing related ones, remain the same. If that is not the case, then these patriots owe their country the favor of not just muttering about the president during a time of a "biggest test," but offering up their own proposed solution, exactly and precisely, so that we all might consider it. Should we respond by invading Iran for no particular connected reason? Say so! Is it time to unleash the nukes? By all means, go on the Sunday shows and let us know.

Anyone can carp from the sidelines. If you want to be a bigger fish, Sen. McCain, Sen. Inhofe, Mr. DeMint, you need to broadcast not just your predictable displeasure, but your "bold" solutions. Withholding the full breadth of your wisdom during these dark times is unpatriotic.

Originally posted to Hunter on Mon Mar 03, 2014 at 02:28 PM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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