A friend of mine thinks that what is going on in the Ukraine is the ultimate test for Obama. The way he sees it is that this will have worldwide geopolitical implications for the United States, all dependent on how Obama reacts to the crisis in the Ukraine with the Russians demanding they surrender Crimea to Russia. He also postulates that Obama could use this opportunity to distract from scandals and failures of his administration for the past five plus years.
It's the latter point that intrigues me. Obama by talking Putin down from the ledge of all out war, could come across as both diplomatic and strong at the same time. This represents a golden opportunity for him. If Russia does back away from it's demands that it may now be claiming it didn't really make, and Obama claims he talked them away from annexation of the Crimea, it could fundamentally alter the dynamics of the midterm elections.
If the situation escalates enough and Obama can "diplomacy his way out of it", it certainly distracts from the Benghazi scandal, and perhaps even the negative effects of Obamacare. Perhaps for long enough to alter the midterm elections.
If Putin were a political genius he would use the opportunity to allow Obama to look good domestically and garner better numbers in the legislative branch for Democrats. A "useful idiot" is more useful when empowered. The problem for Putin in that notion, is that Ukraine did not happen at a time of his choosing. If Putin is able to drag this situation out for months, perhaps he can aid a soft on Russia Obama domestically and have the president beholden to him in some sort of back channel way for the remainder of his term.
That may be overly paranoid, but geopolitical events always have political implications and are not done on the spur of the moment when it involves major powers. They are calculated and duly considered.
If Obama benefits politically from this situation, it would truly be a shame, as he would be getting credit where it is not due.