Tony Blankley
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President Obama, like most American presidents, is lucky that the public pays little attention to foreign policy and rarely casts its votes on the basis of presidential foreign-policy performance. It required something as dramatic as the November 1979 Iranian seizing of our diplomats as hostages, followed the next month by the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan to turn Jimmy Carter's foreign policy mess into a major negative issue for him in his failed 1980 re-election bid.

A political danger for presidents is that precisely because the public pays little attention to foreign policy until a explosion occurs (usually metaphoric), the White House does not get public pressure to improve the situation as it does with, say, a failing domestic economy. As the economy gets worse and worse, the public complains more and more, and the White House is on political alert to try to do something about it, usually. However, the political danger of a foreign-policy failure tends to just fall out of the politically clear blue sky on an inattentive White House.

But the palpable, increasingly manifest weakening of the American position -- from Russia to China/Taiwan to Turkey to Saudi Arabia to the Middle East peace process to Pakistan and Afghanistan to Mexico and Latin America --needs only a spark to reveal to the American public that in the last three years, we have experienced the most sustained weakening of our international interests, values and positions since the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Just last week, the Obama administration sustained three self-inflicted international reversals in Russia, China/Taiwan and the U.N., regarding the Palestinian/Israeli peace process.

Consider Russia. Russian President Dmitri Medvedev announced that he was stepping aside to permit Vladimir Putin to run (essentially unopposed) for president next year. That means that Putin is likely to be president of Russia for 12 more years because, constitutionally, Putin can now serve two more consecutive six-year terms.

Unfortunately, President Obama had placed a huge, strategic bet that Putin was not coming back. As CNN reported on July 6, 2009: "In an interview with the Associated Press late last week, Obama seemed to be trying to work through the sticking points by driving a bit of a wedge between Medvedev and Putin. 'The old Cold War approaches to U.S.-Russia relations is outdated and that it's time to move forward in a different direction,' said Obama. 'I think Medvedev understands that. I think Putin has one foot in the old ways of doing business and one foot in the new.'"

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Tony Blankley

Tony Blankley, a conservative author and commentator who served as press secretary to Newt Gingrich during the 1990s, when Republicans took control of Congress, died Sunday January 8, 2012. He was 63.

Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.

In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.

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