After Russia invaded Ukraine, demonstrating how Vladimir Putin has zero fear of President Barack Obama, Fox News anchor Bret Baier reran a snippet from the third presidential debate in 2012, showing who felt Russia was a geopolitical threat, and who thought that sounded silly.
Obama mocked Mitt Romney for being concerned about Russia. "When you were asked, 'What's the biggest geopolitical threat facing America?' you said Russia. Not al-Qaida. You said Russia, and the 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because, you know, the Cold War has been over for 20 years."
A clever quip from the man whose foreign policy is a joke.
Romney didn't back down. "I'm not going to wear rose-colored glasses when it comes to Russia or Mr. Putin. I'm certainly not going to say to him, 'I'll give you more flexibility after the election.' After the election, he'll get more backbone."
In March of 2012, Obama had been caught on an open mic telling then-Russian leader Dmitry Medvedev that he needed "space" to sound adversarial, but not to worry. "After my election, I have more flexibility," he'd stated, demonstrating yet again he knows nothing about diplomacy beyond bowing to dictators.
Which contender looks sharper on foreign policy now?
At the time, however, this exchange was barely noticed on the networks. Russia wasn't a hot spot. Only "CBS This Morning" ran clips of both sides of that argument. NBC ran a clip of Romney the night after the debate, and ABC never located either statement. NPR ran a long, loving sound bite of Obama's quip, adding his attack that Romney was also stuck in the 1950s on social issues, and in the 1920s on the economy.
Unsurprisingly, MSNBC's Chris Matthews picked right up where Obama left off on the stuck-in-the-past ridicule. "I don't know what decade this guy is living. It sounds like '72, '52 even. It's not even Stalin over there. It's not Khrushchev. It's not Brezhnev. It's Medvedev," he proclaimed. "It's another country in the world. It's no longer the Soviet Union. Is he trying to play Ronald Reagan here or what?"
His liberal guest, Cynthia Tucker, stepped up the attack: "This is Mitt Romney's severely conservative problem. He struggles so hard to be persuasive, to make a case against Obama, that he always ends up jumping sharks, saying something that is completely off key and not credible." She even said, "It made Romney look dumb. He's not a dumb man. But he said something that was clearly dumb."