Obama's Diminishing Returns
History was made on Thursday. For the first time in over 200 years, the British Parliament voted against a Prime Minister’s war resolution. The last time that happened was in 1782, when Parliament voted to stop fighting George Washington and Marquis de Lafayette, granting America its independence.
What happened? America’s closest ally lost confidence in the American President. The British were responding to President Obama’s own desire to retaliate against Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad’s use of chemical weapons, but Prime Minister David Cameron couldn’t get them to take Obama’s word for it. Prime Minister Cameron didn’t lose that vote, Barack Obama did.
“Isn’t the real reason we’re here today... because the American president foolishly drew a red line and because of his position now, he’s going to attack or face humiliation?” asked Labour MP Paul Flynn during debate in Parliament Thursday.
Labour, by the way, is the (very) liberal party in Britain. If President Obama can’t get European liberals on board, who can he convince? The answer appears to be nobody.
Obama’s allies in the liberal media have even dubbed him “the lonely President” – as liberal Democrats are now demanding he follow the Constitution and get Congress to authorize any strike on Syria. Nancy Pelosi is backing Speaker Boehner’s demand that Obama provide a real plan for striking Syria. Even liberal Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine – who Obama once hand-picked to run the DNC – said the president needed to get “the full weight” of Congress behind any action against Syria.
The Syrians don’t seem to be too worried either, with the latest reports saying they’ve simply moved their most dangerous missiles – the ones that can strike Israel or other U.S. allies – to hide them from any attack Obama might launch.
What does all of this mean? It means that after years of end-runs around Congress, public opinion, and the Constitution, Obama has weakened the power of the office he holds. It’s not just that he’s a weak president; it’s that he’s weakened the presidency itself. Nobody trusts the American president’s word. Nobody is willing to follow the president’s lead, at home or abroad.
This could very well be Obama’s most damaging legacy. Bad laws like Obamacare or Dodd-Frank can be repealed or defunded, but trust in the American president may never be earned back.