Amid world crises, Pelosi praises Obama’s ‘strong leadership,’ while Graham blasts his ‘passive responses’ – CNN Blogs - Liar Liar!
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Amid world crises, Pelosi praises Obama’s ‘strong leadership,’ while Graham blasts his ‘passive responses’ – CNN Blogs

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Washington (CNN) – Amid the push for peace in the Middle East and the push for reduced tensions between Russia and the Ukraine, how much has President Barack Obama's leadership helped mitigate those dire situations?

Two top members of Congress offered starkly different characterizations on Sunday.  While one praised the President's "strong" leadership, the other accused Obama of being "AWOL," serving up "passive responses to naked aggression all over the world."

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, and South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, a member of the Armed Services Committee, offered their thoughts to CNN chief political correspondent Candy Crowley during interviews on CNN's "State of the Union."

Is it bad optics, Pelosi was asked, for the president to attend fundraisers as parts of the world seemingly blow up around him?

"The president's leadership has been very strong," Pelosi said, not directly addressing the fundraising.

Pelosi continued, addressing tensions between Israeli forces and Hamas.  On Sunday, Hamas said it agreed to a 24-hour cease-fire, mediated by the United Nations.  Yet Israel resumed its attacks on Gaza on Sunday because of what it called "incessant rocket fire" from Gaza.

On the Mideast tensions, Pelosi continued by mentioning Israel's defense system – known as Iron Dome - that detects, analyzes, targets and frequently destroys incoming rockets from Gaza using interceptor missiles.

"The issues that you're dealing with this morning, the President was in the lead on supporting Iron Dome and asking for more resources now to help Israel defend itself, which it has a right to do.  In the lead for asking for humanitarian assistance for the Palestinian people, something like $47 million to go through the U.N. to help those.  Calling upon others to help negotiate not only a cease-fire but a peace there," Pelosi said.  "The President and Secretary Kerry's presence there is a manifestation of the President's commitment because it's a sustained high-level commitment of the secretary of state representing the administration."

Graham could not disagree more.

In a separate interview with Crowley, the South Carolina Republican also discussed Obama's leadership amid crisis.

"America is the glue that holds the free world together.  And when you see us missing, or AWOL, as President Obama has been, you see fracturing on multiple fronts," the senator said.

Graham continued: "Russia is more aggressive, not less.  The sanctions clearly are not working.  Hamas is demanding open borders. …These are stark contrasts and we're not responding. Passive responses to naked aggression all over the world is our foreign policy."

Regarding tensions in the Ukraine, the lawmakers also disagreed.

Pelosi noted that "the President early on called for sanctions" and ultimately sought "even stronger ones."

"Nobody's missing in action in all of this," she said regarding the criticism lodged against Obama.

Ascribing some of Putin's actions to "insecurity," Pelosi said, "So as far as Putin is concerned, he's a KGB guy who happens to be the president of Russia. And he's going to do what he's going to do no matter who else is in charge in the other places in the world."

Graham again stressed a theme of a "passive response" by the President.

"The Ukraine has asked for weapons to defend itself for months – and we're still thinking about it," Graham said.  "The Europeans can't lead without America setting the standard.  They're a dysfunctional political organization, Europe is.  And without American leadership organizing Europe and the world, you see people like Putin, who has an economy the size of Italy, he's playing a poker game with a pair of twos and winning."

What should Obama do, in Graham’s estimation?

"I would come to Congress and I'd ask for additional sanctions on the entire Russian economy, Putin included," Graham said.  "I would come to Congress and ask for money to equip and train the Ukranian military."

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