Do Presidents Matter?

Do presidents matter? Why, yes, they do. War has broken out in Europe, but Joe Biden is too weary–or something–to deal with it:

As pretty much everyone has pointed out, Vladimir Putin annexed Crimea when Barack Obama was president (and Joe Biden was Vice President), did nothing while Donald Trump was president, and then invaded Ukraine while Joe Biden is ostensibly at the wheel. Coincidence? Funny how the Biden administration is a cascading series of unhappy coincidences.

This story about Trump is making the rounds:

One has it that Trump — noting that Putin seized land from Georgia when George W. Bush was president and seized the Crimean peninsula when Barack Obama was president — warned Putin against a land grab on his watch.

“If you move against Ukraine while I’m president,” Trump is said to have told the Russian leader, “I will hit Moscow.”

Is it true? I doubt it, especially if Trump is the only source. But even if that anecdote is exaggerated or made up out of whole cloth, the broader point may be valid. Unpredictability is a good thing in a world leader. I think it is quite plausible that the Russians stayed their hand during the Trump administration because it was hard to tell what that unorthodox, aggressive and pro-American character might do.

Also, it is good when your chief executive is not senile, incompetent and corrupt.

There are a number of inspiring stories coming out of Ukraine. This is just one:

All Ukrainian border guards protecting a tiny island in the Black Sea from Russian invaders were killed yesterday after refusing to surrender to warmonger Vladimir Putin’s forces and defiantly telling a Kremlin warship: ‘Go f**k yourselves!’.

The small contingent of soldiers, reportedly 13 in number, were posted on Snake Island in the Odessa region near NATO ally Romania and were defending the territory after Moscow launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine early Thursday morning.

In a radio message, the soldiers were told by a sailor on board the vessel: ‘This is Russian military warship. I suggest you lay down your weapons and surrender to avoid bloodshed and needless casualties. Otherwise, you will be bombed.’ However, the Ukrainian troops defiantly refused to give up the territory, and instead replied: ‘Go f**k yourselves!’.

Let’s stipulate that the U.S. and NATO are not going to intervene in Ukraine to oppose the Russian takeover. It nevertheless seems that a halfway-competent U.S. president could take stories of this kind and use them to encourage Ukrainian resistance and to bring condemnation and meaningful counter-measures down on Putin and his minions. But Joe Biden is too tired, apparently, to do any of that. And to be fair, he has never inspired anyone to do anything.

The Ukrainians, on the other hand, have a leader at the helm. He may be a former comedian, but Volodymyr Zelensky has stood tall for his country in circumstances that likely will cost him his life. He was offered transit out of Ukraine by the U.S. government, but declined:

Some people know how to lead in a moment of crisis, others don’t. Unfortunately, our president is a pitiful failure who has no clue.

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