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March 18, 2014
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As Russia claims Crimea for its own, it's no surprise that members of the Republican Party are piling on President Obama for "losing" Crimea in a Cold War-esque face-off with Vladimir Putin. The most prominent attack this week came from Mitt Romney in an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, which one would assume would borrow from Romney's 2012 campaign in claiming that Obama's wimpy apologizing for America had allowed the thuggish likes of Putin to play Nelson to Obama's Milhouse.

But Romney tries a far more modest tack instead, blaming Obama for failing to act at the "propitious point" that would have magically paved the way for American triumphs in a series of foreign policy events ranging from the protests in Tahrir Square to the protests in Kiev's Maidan. Obama has too often been caught in an "analysis paralysis," Romney suggests, while Romney's ideal president — himself perhaps? — would have been able to "anticipate events, prepare for them, and act in time to shape them."

This is, of course, a hindsight-is-20/20 argument of the highest order, and virtually useless in prescribing a better foreign policy other than blandly requiring that America's leaders be decisive. However, it is a useful insight into a GOP that is struggling to find a unified message on foreign policy. Romney has clearly adopted a less belligerent line than, say, John McCain, a recognition that voters have no interest in an interventionist foreign policy of the Bush variety. Meanwhile, Romney's argument is to the right of Rand Paul, who has come to represent the budding isolationist wing of the party and is struggling mightily to remain relevant (and coherent) amid the drama in Ukraine.

But in seeking middle ground, Romney ends up in a weird no man's land in which he fails to offer any real alternative to Obama's policies. "Timing is of the essence," Romney concludes — which doesn't have quite the stentorian ring of "peace through strength." Ryu Spaeth

1:03 p.m. ET

Former President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle Obama departed Washington, D.C., on Friday, following the inauguration ceremony of President Donald Trump. After posing for a final picture with the new president and first lady Melania Trump on the steps of the U.S. Capitol Building, the Obamas boarded the Executive One helicopter — formerly Marine One — and prepared to depart Washington after eight years in the nation's capital.

The Obamas are headed to Palm Springs, California, for a post-presidency retreat with their two daughters Sasha and Malia. Watch the former president and first lady fly away from Washington below. Kimberly Alters

1:01 p.m. ET
SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

Even President Donald Trump's critics are happy to admit that things were at least peaceful Friday during the inauguration. Despite the fact that there are many other democratic nations around the world that do this exact same thing, Americans patted themselves on the back for once again not having a coup:

Not everyone is so impressed: "There is something unnerving about these reassurances, something overstated, even hysterical," writes The Atlantic's David Frum.

When a British prime minister loses the confidence of the House of Commons and must suddenly trundle out of 10 Downing Street (as some six dozen of them have done since the job was invented in the 1740s; a few more than once), nobody marvels on television how wonderful it is that he or she doesn't try to retain power by force of arms. Nobody in Denmark thinks it extraordinary when one party relinquishes power to another. Ditto New Zealand or Switzerland — all of them treat peaceful transfers of power as the developed world norm, like reliable electricity or potable water. [The Atlantic]

Read his entire evaluation here. Jeva Lange

12:39 p.m. ET

President Donald Trump was sworn into office Friday in Washington, D.C., and after being administered the presidential oath by Chief Justice John Roberts he delivered his inaugural address to the nation. Standing on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol Building, Trump struck a populist tone reminiscent of the themes of his campaign. "This moment is your moment. It belongs to you," he said. "Jan. 20, 2017, will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again."

Trump lamented the state of U.S. education and manufacturing while sending a nationalist economic message, saying, "Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength." He also echoed his campaign slogan, promising that America would "start winning again — winning like never before," and he vowed to bring jobs and wealth back to the U.S.:

Standing in front of a dais full of elected officials, Trump criticized do-nothing politicians while simultaneously calling for unity around his movement. But observers noted his speech was notably angry for an inaugural address, which new presidents typically use to espouse themes of hope and bipartisanship:

Trump also called the state of gangs and drugs in the nation akin to "American carnage." But "that was the past. Now, we are looking only to the future," Trump said. "From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land. From this day forward, it's going to be only: America first." Kimberly Alters

12:22 p.m. ET

Moments after he was sworn into office, President Donald Trump declared Jan. 20, 2017, his Inauguration Day, "the day the people became the rulers of this nation again." Reviving the populist themes of his presidential campaign in his inaugural address, Trump said, "The forgotten people of this country will be forgotten no longer."

Trump declared that what "truly matters" is not whether the government is controlled by the Republican Party or the Democratic Party, but by "the people." The nation, Trump said, exists to "serve its people." Becca Stanek

12:20 p.m. ET

President Donald Trump painted an apocalyptic picture of the United States during his inaugural address, describing factories "scattered like tombstones across the land" and the ravages of "drugs" and "gangs."

"This American carnage stops right here and stops right now," Trump vowed.

If you had been mulling over "American carnage" for a band name, you're going to want to get on that pretty quick. Jeva Lange

12:10 p.m. ET

President Donald Trump vowed to "rebuild our country and restore its promise for all of our people" in his first words after being sworn in as commander-in-chief.

Trump stressed that "we are transferring power from Washington, D.C., and giving it back to you, the people."

"This is your country," Trump said. "What truly matters is not what party controls the government, but if our government is controlled by the people." Trump additionally thanked former President Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama for their "gracious aid throughout this transition." Jeva Lange

12:09 p.m. ET

Both President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence have now officially been sworn in as the United States' president and vice president, respectively. Watch Trump and Pence take their official oaths of office below. Becca Stanek

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