Richard Grenell had a keen observation this morning. Reading a New York Times article on President Trump's decision to accept new sanctions on Russia, Grenell noted ...

He's right. The operative words here are "letting the Kremlin off the hook." The Times should have clarified the presidency was responsible for those failings.

Facing the Russian invasion of Ukraine, former President Barack Obama first reacted with boredom, then with mild sanctions, then with moderate sanctions. As Russia systematically broke its cease-fire agreements and expanded its control over Eastern Ukraine, Obama did even less than that. When the Russians then shot down a passenger airliner, killing 298 people, Obama did nothing.

Humility amidst failure? Not Obama. Just a month prior to the downing of MH-17, Obama gave a particularly ludicrous Ben Rhodes-written speech at West Point in which he praised himself for his Ukraine policy.

"Because of American leadership," he said, "the world immediately condemned Russian actions; Europe and the G7 joined us to impose sanctions; NATO reinforced our commitment to Eastern European allies ... And this mobilization of world opinion and international institutions served as a counterweight to Russian propaganda and Russian troops on the border and armed militias in ski masks."

The rotting bodies of MH-17 render judgment on those words.

As do the bodies that followed. After all, Obama's sustained weakness gave Putin confidence to turn Syria into rubble. Obama was the leader who allowed Russia to send repeated Trojan Horses against the American-led international order.

Then, when it came to Russia's sustained attack on American democracy, Obama's response was worse than nothing. As with the Osama bin Laden raid, he took months to make a decision. He then shuttered a couple of buildings and sent a few diplomats home. He should have destroyed the GRU's computer mainframes.

This is not to excuse Trump's policy mistakes towards Putin. But it is to offer context. Obama was very, very weak on Russia.