The Obama paradox: Soft on Russia, hard on Republicans?

Matt K. Lewis Senior Contributor
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There has long been a paradox joked about amongst conservatives: Democrats, the theory went, were soft toward our nation’s enemies, while treating their domestic political adversaries (Republicans) with extreme prejudice. Meanwhile, Republicans — who were tough on our nation’s enemies — seemed to turn into dithering doves when fighting the left.

In recent years, this trope has been undermined. But it seems to be making a comeback. Watch this video, and I’ll pickup the discussion below:

The above video was flagged by HotAir because it shows Chris Matthews openly wishing President Obama would show better leadership skills…like George W. Bush.

That’s an interesting observation, but something else caught my eye. Watch what Chris Matthews’ plan is to help Obama “get his spark back”:

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That’s right. Matthews worries that Obama is looking weak and “reactive” due to his dithering in Syria, but his solution has nothing to do with fixing America’s image abroad — and everything to do with the optics of showing toughness by standing up to…Republicans.

Just like the good old days, Democrats are tougher on Republicans than on Syria or Iran or Russia (in fairness, Putin’s much tougher than Republicans.)

Another point — which is sort of related: Rhetorically speaking, George W. Bush was always known as a bumbler. But think of Bush’s best rhetorical moments. They all came in the immediate aftermath of 9-11 — when Bush seemed to rise to the occasion.

This was true both in terms of scripted and spontaneous speeches.

Conversely, Barack Obama’s best rhetoric has tended to come during political campaigns. But where was that great, inspiring orator the other night during that prime time speech on Syria. He didn’t show. Obama failed to inspire.

Is this a coincidence?

Matt K. Lewis