To the White House's dismay, the headline didn't come from the Babylon Bee, but the liberal New Yorker: "Poll Shows Zelensky Leading 2024 Presidential Race." It was meant as satire, but for the team riding on Joe Biden's Titanic, it exposed something that anyone watching the Ukrainian crisis already knew: this president is no leader. And being confronted with one -- as Americans were in the form of Volodymyr Zelensky -- only confirmed it.
For Biden, who was already neck-deep in disapproval ratings, the rise of Zelensky's star couldn't come at a worse time. The Ukrainian president's speech before Congress was a triumph, cementing his hero status and showing off the kind of courage Americans are left longing for in this administration. Now, as the war enters its fourth week, voters are even more disgusted by the White House's response to Russia -- agreeing (in greater numbers now) that he's mishandled this crisis too.
It's the "timidity" of this president that's making matters worse, Senator Steve Daines (R-Mont.) argued. "Perhaps his doctrine is 'war through weakness.' [Because] when you exhibit weakness with these thugs, these dictators who seek authoritarian control over people, [you lose]," he said on "Washington Watch." "You've got to stand up strong against them. And the hesitation this president has... is cost[ing] us dearly. And that was the contrast I saw today of what leadership looks like -- what President Zelensky contrasted [from the] poor model of leadership [we have in] President Biden."
His colleague, Senator John Kennedy (R-La.) was a little more colorful, calling the White House's response a "wimp fest." "I think it's clear that the leader of the free world is President Zelensky," Kennedy insisted. "Today, President Zelensky said, 'Can you please help me get planes? Can you please help me get surface-to-air missiles? I'm not asking for American planes, or pilots, or troops.' President Biden's response is the same as it always is: 'I'll get back to you in three to five business days.' And he never gets back."
Right now, Mariupol is desperately trying to dig out survivors from the rubble of a theater that was bombed despite the word "children" spelled out on the pavement in Russian letters large enough for Putin's pilots to see. It's "unbearable," the locals are pleading. "Hell." As many as 350,000 people are trapped in the city without heat, food, or electricity. Some of them are melting snow and dismantling heating systems just to get the water out to drink. One woman tried to make soup out of rainwater for the 17 strangers in her house, watching Russian planes fly low overhead.
CBN's George Thomas is on the ground near Kyiv, trying to stay in communication with local Christians. One of them sent pictures of his village, where he says "many Baptists live." "Bombs are constantly flying overhead. Our house is intact, but a bomb hit the house of prayer. Russian invaders have blocked the exit routes... We cannot evacuate." They would have help, both parties of Congress say, if Biden would act to send jets to Ukraine. A group of 58 lawmakers -- half Democrats, half Republicans -- have sent letters demanding that the White House move to shore up Zelensky's air defense
"We've got to find a way to provide that air cover to Ukraine," Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) insisted. "If not directly, than indirectly." As Daines said, "Let the Ukrainian pilots fly those [planes] out of out of Europe, and let them go fight." They could close their own skies if they had help. "If we were sending that air support from about five different countries into Ukraine," Brady pointed out, "I think it'd be very difficult for Russia to stop a sort of flood-zone type approach for that weaponry. I just keep thinking our military is so powerful and we can be so creative. There's got to be a way to help..." Until then, Russians will drop more bombs and kill more people from a sky that could be filled with Ukrainian pilots.
Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo joined the chorus Wednesday, arguing that America has the tools the Ukrainians need. "We have them. The Europeans have them... But instead, President Biden has been behind. He's allowed Vladimir Putin to dictate the pace and the response... He's allowed Vladimir Putin to...dominate how we think about the structure of what's taking place here and we can do better than this. Americans deserve it. The Ukrainian people deserve it as well."
Until then, you have mothers putting their little boys on trains with nothing but their phone numbers on their hands. One 11-year-old boy traveled more than 600 miles alone with nothing but his passport and a plastic bag. In an emotional video, his mother thanked the Slovakian ministry for saving the life of her child. “He conquered everyone with his smile, fearlessness, and the determination of a real hero,” they replied. May the world show the same fearlessness when it comes to saving the lives of so many more.