CNN's Chris Cuomo ran to President Obama's defense on Tuesday's New Day, after former Senator Jim DeMint criticized the White House's handling of Russia's invasion of Ukraine: "Isn't the notion that only might can make right tired? The American people do not have appetite for more military action, and everyone is condemning Putin...Isn't this proof that President Obama's tactic of let's try to talk; let's try to be flexible – not everything is about having the biggest muscles – may be the way the world wants to proceed?"
Cuomo also ripped the GOP for standing in the way of passing the President's agenda through Congress: [MP3 audio available here; video below]
CHRIS CUOMO: What is your message to your party? Because even since from the time that you were there, obstructionism is just the name of the game for the Republican Party right now. And, obviously, that's not leading to any meaningful progress. The dialogue is so toxic, because that's all they have is the talk now, because they're not doing anything. What is your message to your own party about how to move forward?
The anchor brought on the Heritage Foundation president for his take on the turmoil in Crimea, as well as to discuss his new book, "Falling in Love With America Again." Cuomo first raised the Ukrainian issue, and noted that "there are two theories of how we got to here: one, Putin is a madman, who is looking to embolden his position – get back to Cold War-thinking – of trying to reabsorb territories around him, specifically strategic ones. The other theory is one that I believe you hold, which is he was falsely emboldened by President Obama's weakness – his 'flexibility' – and we've allowed Putin to now take this stage."
DeMint responded, in part, that "our lack of a concise and clear foreign policy has destabilized parts of the world....Russia tested us years ago in Georgia. They saw we didn't respond. Now, they're testing us even further....Putin understands strength, not diplomacy, and they've been meddling in Ukrainian affairs for years...they don't think America will act, and that is a very destabilizing force – not only in the Ukraine, but throughout the world."
The CNN personality followed up with his " isn't...only might can make right tired" assertion, and added his "isn't this proof that President Obama's tactic of let's try to talk...may be the way the world wants to proceed" question. The former South Carolina senator retorted that "if you have the biggest muscles, you usually don't have to fight," and continued with a policy suggestion:
JIM DEMINT: ...We needed to do much more to help the Ukrainians, who were fighting for freedom for years....I'm not suggesting military action, but we can do things that we can control, Chris. And one of the first things is to get out of the arms treaty called START that we got into a couple of years ago with Russia. We are trusting them to do what they say, and that is foolish, naive notion now. We are not modernizing our own capabilities, which creates more of a perception of weakness, and it's encouraging even our allies to get into the nuclear business, because they're afraid we're no longer going to be capable of protecting them.
Moments later, DeMint repeated that "we don't have to get involved militarily," but before he could complete his point, Cuomo interrupted by targeting Republicans' critique of President Obama's foreign policy: "But your brothers and sisters in the Republican Party – in Egypt; in Libya; in Syria – were equally critical of the President for extending humanitarian aid; for wanting to be involved on that level – saying, well, maybe it's military or stay out of it. It seems like no matter what the President does, he just gets criticism."
The Heritage Foundation leader replied, "We didn't have a clear policy in Egypt, and sent all the wrong signals. Clearly, in Syria, we drew a red line that turned out to be a pink line, and no line at all. That created a victory for Putin, and showed that the United States was really all talk....We need a clear and definitive foreign policy, so folks know where we stand. And generally, we need to be supportive of countries that are fighting for freedom."
Cuomo asked his guest about his new book during the last portion of the interview, but he again found the opportunity to go after the GOP:
DEMINT: ...What I'm doing in the book, 'Falling in Love With America Again,' is reminding people that not only do our problems get solved more quickly, but our affinity for our country and fellow man is much greater if you and I are allowed to make our own decisions. We can disagree about almost everything and still be friends. Unless someone walks in the room and says, Chris, you have to do what DeMint does and believe what he does – then, we're mad at each other, and we're mad at the government for telling us to do that.
CUOMO: So, I'll leave you with this question: given the message of the book, what is your message to your party? Because even since from the time that you were there, obstructionism is just the name of the game for the Republican Party right now. And, obviously, that's not leading to any meaningful progress. The dialogue is so toxic, because that's all they have is the talk now, because they're not doing anything. What is your message to your own party about how to move forward?
DEMINT: I would disagree with the obstruction idea. What we have is two polar opposite views – is we have – mostly in the Democratic Party now – is we're going to solve the problem from Washington, with a big new health care plan. We've got Republicans – who are not always united in their opinion – saying, no, we can do this better by working with the states – working with the private sector – to solve the problem. But sometimes, the federal government has to let go of things. So, it's not a matter of obstructing. It's a matter of the parties are polarized.
But what I want to do with this book, Chris, is unite the country around a core set of ideas that I'm convinced we all support. The politics is what's dividing us now. I talk to people all the time who agree in principle with a lot of the things I'm talking about, but they'd never vote for a Republican and – because the polarization in politics is just not representative of what's in America. Americans can get along and love each other, if they're given the freedom to live their lives the way they want and to believe what they want, and they're not coerced by government. So, there's a formula here that I believe works for the country. I think the politics will follow, if we can unite the country around some simple ideas.
Almost two months earlier, the CNN anchor went after congressional Republicans for their request for spending cuts to offset an extension of jobless benefits: "Are they holding these people hostage? I mean, shouldn't these be extended and then have a legitimate jobs policy discussion?"