On Sunday, NBC Meet the Press host Chuck Todd displayed the ability for some on the left to blame Republicans for anything. During a discussion of the recent hackings from Russia that were revealed months before the presidential election, Todd asked former Bush and Obama Defense Secretary Robert Gates if Republican critics of President Obama actually provoked the hackings by accusing Obama of being "too soft on Russia" in previous years.
Todd inquired: "You know, for about four years, as you know and you actually defended President Obama from some of his critics when it came to he was too soft on Russia or he was too -- maybe soft is not the right word -- but he wasn't tough enough against Putin. Do you think all of this -- that Putin, over time, read this as weakness?"
Gates, who served in both the Obama administration and the George W. Bush administration, blamed President Obama's withdrawal from Iraq and his clumsy handling of the civil war in Syria for Russia's negative perceptions of the U.S. government. Gates began:
I think that Putin saw the United States withdrawing from around the world. I think there's actually -- the problem has been that President Obama's actions have not matched his rhetoric. His rhetoric has often been pretty tough, but then there's been no folllow-up and no action. And if you combine that with red lines that have been crossed, demands that Assad step down with no plan to actually figure out how to make that happen, the withdrawal from the Middle East, from Iraq and Afghanistan -- essentially the way it was done -- I think it sent a signal the U.S. was in retreat...
It was always going to be complicated to withdraw from those wars without victory, without sending the signal we were withdrawing broadly from a global leadership role. I think some of the things that have been done have accentuated that impression around the world, and I think that Putin felt that he could take advantage of that.