FOLLOW THE WEEK ON FACEBOOK
March 18, 2014
Alex Wong/Getty Images

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

9:02 a.m. ET
Duane Prokop/Getty Images

Beyoncé leads the 59th annual Grammy Awards nominations with nine nods for her critically acclaimed visual album, Lemonade, The New York Times reports. Drake and Rihanna follow, nominated for eight awards each, while singer Adele received five nominations.

Beyoncé will compete directly against Adele, and her album 25, in three of the top categories. The category of Album of the Year will also pit the two powerhouses against Drake's Views, Justin Bieber's Purpose, and country singer Sturgill Simpson's A Sailor's Guide to Earth. Record of the Year will see Beyoncé's "Formation" go up against Adele's "Hello," Rihanna's "Work," Lukas Graham's "7 Years," and Twenty One Pilots' "Stressed Out." The nominees for Song of the Year also include "Formation," "Hello," and "7 Years," in addition to "I Took a Pill in Ibiza" by Mike Posner and "Love Yourself" by Justin Bieber.

The contenders for Best New Artist include DJ duo The Chainsmokers, Chance the Rapper, country singers Maren Morris and Kelsea Ballerini, and singer-rapper Anderson Paak.

The awards will be hosted by James Corden and held Feb. 12, 2017 on CBS. See all of the nominees here. Jeva Lange

8:47 a.m. ET
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Retired Marine General John Kelly, 66, is the likeliest candidate to be tapped to lead the Department of Homeland Security, three people close to President-elect Donald Trump's transition process revealed to Politico.

The Department of Homeland Security, established after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, helms border and immigration control, both of which are issues Trump had made central to his campaign. Kelly had expressed interest in serving in the incoming administration, whether under Trump or Hillary Clinton; he did not endorse a candidate. In the past, Kelly has clashed with President Obama on the decision to open combat roles to women in the military as well as the administration's plans to close Guantanamo Bay.

After four decades in the military, Kelly recently retired as the chief of U.S. Southern Command, which oversaw military operations in Central and South America. Kelly is also one of the most senior military officers to have lost a child in Iraq or Afghanistan; his son, 2nd Lt. Robert M. Kelly was killed after stepping on a landmine in Afghanistan in 2010.

Notably, if Trump were to select Kelly, he would be the third general to join the incoming administration, after Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who will serve as national security adviser, and retired Gen. James Mattis, who has been nominated for defense secretary. Retired Gen. David Petraeus is also reportedly being considered for secretary of state.

You can read more about Kelly, and his experience and positions, at Politico. Jeva Lange

8:07 a.m. ET

Astronaut Buzz Aldrin, 86, recently fell ill after becoming the oldest person to reach the South Pole. But rest assured, Aldrin is in good hands — Dr. David Bowie is taking care of him.

Of course, it isn't the same David Bowie who wrote "Starman," "Life on Mars," and "Space Oddity"; the cosmos-loving rock star, who was born David Jones, died in January after a quiet battle with cancer. But a different David Bowie, of Christchurch, New Zealand, "is still here on Earth tending to the sick," Time reports.

Aldrin's manager shared the delightful coincidence on Twitter:

Bowie and Aldrin were already fatefully tied, too: Bowie's song, "Space Oddity," was released less than two weeks before Neil Armstrong and Aldrin became the first two people to walk on the moon in July 1969.

Aldrin was evacuated from the South Pole over the weekend and has been advised to remain in quarantine until the fluid in his lungs clears. Jeva Lange

7:40 a.m. ET
Ty Wright/Getty Images

Republican congressional leaders, fiscally conservative groups and media, and Sarah Palin have decried the Carrier deal President-elect Donald Trump heralded last week as a corporate shakedown and terrible example of "crony capitalism," but the American public is on board, according to a Morning Consult/Politico poll released Tuesday. Announcing the deal, in which Carrier keeps some 800 jobs in Indiana that had been slated to go to Mexico in return for $7 million in state financial incentives, "was big for Trump," says Morning Consult's Kyle Dropp. "Rarely do we see numbers that high when looking at how specific messages and events shape public opinion."

Trump's overall favorability numbers did not change much from last week's online survey — 47 percent of voters said they view him favorably, 46 percent unfavorably — but 60 percent of respondents (including 87 percent of Republicans) said the Carrier deal gave them a more favorable view of Trump, versus 29 percent who said it made them view Trump less favorably. A quarter of respondents had heard nothing about the Carrier deal. And majorities of respondents, including large majorities of Republicans, said it was appropriate for presidents and vice presidents to directly negotiate with private businesses, and offer financial incentives and government contracts to individual companies to keep jobs in the U.S.

The poll respondents were less enamored of Trump's prolific and controversial tweets, with a 56 percent majority saying Trump uses Twitter too much and a 49 percent plurality saying his Twitter usage is a "bad thing" (23 percent said it is a "good thing"). Morning Consult conducted the survey online with 1,401 registered voters last Thursday and Friday; it has a margin of error of ±3 percentage points. Peter Weber

7:39 a.m. ET

It wasn't all Donald Trump. After crunching the numbers, The Associated Press reports that the most buzzed-about topics on Twitter in 2016 included the Rio Olympics and Pokemon Go, as well as the Oscars, Euro 2016, Game of Thrones, and Black Lives Matter. "RIP" was also one of the biggest trends on the social media website, surfacing for a number of celebrity deaths throughout the year.

U.S. politics did dominate the conversation, though, with "Election2016" as the second most-tweeted topic and "Trump" also cracking the top 10. Brexit also resulted in an enormous spike in conversation.

As for the most popular tweet of the year? It might be a little unexpected — it was simply the Spanish word for lemonade, "limonada," tweeted by a Spanish gamer who promised prizes to fans that retweeted it. It resulted in more than 1.3 million retweets:

Runners-up included this tweet by One Direction's Harry Styles and this post-election tweet from Hillary Clinton. Jeva Lange

6:11 a.m. ET
Ty Wright/Getty Images

On Tuesday, President-elect Donald Trump is traveling to Fayetteville, North Carolina, for the second stop on his "thank you" tour to battleground states that voted for him. Last week in Cincinnati he held his first rally, which strongly resembled Trump's raucous campaign events, and later this week he is taking his victory tour to Iowa and Michigan. In his Ohio rally, Trump mixed in a personnel announcement — he will nominated retired Gen. James Mattis as defense secretary — so he may combine business with politics. Victory tours are extremely unusual, if not unprecedented, in U.S. presidential history. Peter Weber

5:32 a.m. ET
Eric Feferberg/AFP/Getty Images)

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls resigned on Tuesday to mount a bid for the Socialist presidential nomination, and President Francois Hollande replaced him with Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve. Valls will face at least seven rivals in the Socialist primary, and if he wins, he will compete against Republican nominee Francois Fillon and Marine Le Pen of the far-right National Front. Hollande is not running for re-election, he announced last week. Cazeneuve, 51, is a close ally of Hollande and gained a high profile through his work in the aftermath of several Islamist terrorist attacks in France, including his push for new security laws. Hollande named Bruno Le Roux, a Socialist leader in parliament, as the new interior minister. Peter Weber

See More Speed Reads