Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, is hot, red hot.

The United States’ president, Barack Obama, is cold, stone cold.

After Russia’s takeover of Crimea, Putin is more popular than ever in the motherland.

After Obama’s capitulation, his poll numbers are at an all-time low.

The buff, bare-chested Putin, a former martial arts master and KGB colonel, has attained rock-star status. Meanwhile, his lanky American counterpart, the former community organizer and pick-up basketball player, looks weak and strangely out of place in a world where the strong survive and the weak get trampled.

If this were bowling, Putin just had a 300 game while his opponent rolled nothing but gutter balls. If it were baseball, Putin pitched a perfect game while Obama struck out.

You have to admire the Putin hutzpah. Obama may be a congenial fellow, but not even his friends in the adoring media can hide his timidity. While Obama’s view of the world may be applauded in in the halls of academia, on the world stage it is naive, if not dangerous.

In the good old days of the Cold War, we knew who the enemy was: It was the former USSR. In this new hot and cold war, it’s not that we don’t know our enemy, it’s just that we pretend not to know. Poor Vladimir! This is all a big misunderstanding. He just feels threatened. Give him a little time, a little space; he’ll come around.

Did the people of Crimea really vote to secede from Ukraine and become part of Russia? Their choice was simple: Vote to become part of Russia or vote to have Russia’s storm troopers come and string you up, along with your children. There was no option on the ballot to remain a part of Ukraine.

Let’s be clear: Before Ukraine threw out Victor Yanukovych, the Russian’s puppet leader, there was no real separatist movement in Crimea. Russia took over the region and all media outlets.

In the run-up to the election, the Russian heart-throb took a page right out of Obama’s liberal playbook. He called the central government of Ukraine “fascists, anti-Semites, nationalists and radicals.” The people of Crimea were told that ethic Russians were being persecuted in Kiev. Furthermore, Putin charged that the new leaders “seized power in a coup d’etat backed by Western patrons and do not legitimately represent the people of Ukraine.” That’s news to Ukraine’s parliament. However, when liberals here have no real argument, they do what Putin did. They call you names and accuse you of unspeakable acts.

Make no mistake: This move by Putin was naked aggression by one of the world’s great powers, the kind unseen since the breakup of the old Soviet Union in 1991.

Obama’s response to a country begging for weapons and fighting to defend its independence against overwhelming odds was to offer meal rations. Well, MREs are no defense against Russian tanks. Obama knows it. The G-7 knows it. Putin knows it, and the world knows it.

Obama gave up on democracy in Iraq after a hard-fought war was won with American blood and treasure. He upended a friendly Egyptian leader and one we could control in Libya. To borrow some words from Colin Powell, “You break it; You fix it!” We didn’t. Both countries now are shattered and a danger to us. After all that, it appears Obama’s new goal is stability, even if it means feeding the Russian bear and cutting the legs out from under a country that wants to join the West.

Instead of going on national television and laying out the situation to the American people, Obama spent his time filling out a college basketball bracket and playing golf. He was “leading from behind.” Now it appears he’s given up leading altogether.

In 2008, as Putin was peeling off two provinces in Georgia, Bush sent warships to the Black Sea, shelved a nuclear agreement and isolated Russia politically. Yes, he could have done more, but he did prevent a complete takeover of the region.

Meanwhile, when Obama took office, he forgave Russia’s transgression in the infamous “reset.” Worst of all, as a gift to Russia, he pulled the rug out from under Poland and the Czech Republic by canceling our agreement to provide those countries with missile-defense.

As the Russian bear growls, all of our potential enemies are busy building up their militaries. Meanwhile, Obama is drawing ours down to a pre-Pearl Harbor level and putting women in combat.

Now that should have Putin quaking in his jackboots.

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