Sally Kohn: "Republicans Are Practically Cheering For Vladimir Putin"

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SALLY KOHN: Republicans are practically cheering for Vladimir Putin today. He's given them a new excuse to bash President Obama. Republicans are out in droves, suggesting that, if the president weren't such a weak leader, Putin wouldn't be threatening the Ukraine.

First of all, did the same Republicans call George W. Bush weak when Putin invaded Georgia in 2008? No. Second, what do Obama's Republican critics want? They want economic sanctions and political boycotts to be on the table. Well...

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JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: There could even be, ultimately, asset freezes, visa bans. There could be, certainly, disruption of any of the normal trade routine. There could be business drawback on investment in the country.

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KOHN: There's an old Russian proverb: "To spite my mom, I'll freeze my ears off."

Danielle, aren't Republicans systematically undermining the president, trying to spite the president, but in effect hurting America's standing in the world?

PLETKA: First of all, I think polling shows uses that the president has done more to hurt our standing in the world than the Republicans at this point. But that's immaterial.

First of all, let's get a little bit of history straight. John McCain, who you guys have been showing on endless loop criticizing the president on Ukraine, ripped George Bush's head off on the issue of Georgia, so did Lindsey Graham, who's also been on your screens, mercilessly and without a lot of attitude from the Republican White House.

So, no labeling them hypocrites. I'm sorry, they're people of principle. And I was in the same place, I agree wholeheartedly.

Bush made a pathetic showing in Georgia, I think it was one of the things that encouraged Putin to believe with an even weaker president, he could go further.

Second of all, these aren't games. It's always lovely to talk about American domestic politics as if it's somehow more important than the lives of the Ukrainian people or the Syrian people. Let me tell you, these are not games for the Republicans or the Democrats who are standing up.

KOHN: I wasn't saying this is a game at all. In fact, the difference --

PLETKA: You said it was a game in your open.

KOHN: Well, the difference here is that once upon a time we have this sort of gentleman's and gentlewoman's agreement --

PLETKA: No, we didn't.

KOHN: That our politics ended at the water's edge.

PLETKA: Rubbish.

KOHN: And instead of getting behind the president and together as a country uniting to deal with this crisis, Republicans are out there undermining the president's leadership in the world.

(CROSSTALK)

PLETKA: It's absolutely not true. First of all, never stopped at the water's edge, if you recall after the First World War, we didn't join the League of Nations, I think that was probably a moment in the last century before you were born but certainly when politics didn't stop at the water's edge. It never stopped at the water's edge. That's number one.

Number two, this is about national interests and about the security of the world. What we want to ensure is that Putin doesn't view the Crimea the way Hitler viewed the Sudetenland as a free ticket to do what he wants in his part of the world so that we don't have to engage later on. A little bit of toughness.

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