James M. Lindsay

The Water's Edge

Lindsay analyzes the politics shaping U.S. foreign policy and the sustainability of American power.

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Showing posts for "The White House"

Hello (Ciao), Matteo Renzi: Prime Minister of Italy

by James M. Lindsay
Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi arrives to lead a news conference at Chigi palace in Rome. (Remo Casilli/Courtesy Reuters) Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi arrives to lead a news conference at Chigi palace in Rome. (Remo Casilli/Courtesy Reuters)

When President Barack Obama stops in Rome tomorrow he will be meeting with a politician who can match his own meteoric rise to power: Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi. Last month the thirty-nine-year-old Renzi, the former mayor of Florence, engineered the ouster of Italy’s sitting prime minister, Enrico Letta, and took the job for himself. Renzi’s rise to power was all the more remarkable because he and Letta belonged to the same political party, Italy’s center-left Democratic Party (PD). Renzi was elected the PD’s party secretary only three months ago, and he immediately set his sights on the prime minister’s job. He was a pretty effective insurgent. Letta’s colleagues voted 136 to 16 to oust him, and on February 14, he resigned after less than a year in office. Renzi and his new government were sworn in on February 22. Read more »

TWE Celebrates Presidents’ Day

by James M. Lindsay
President George W. Bush meets with former Presidents and President-elect Obama in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, January 2009. (Kevin Lamarque/courtesy Reuters) President George W. Bush meets with former presidents and President-elect Barack Obama in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, January 2009. (Kevin Lamarque/Courtesy Reuters)

Today is Presidents’ Day. It is a TWE tradition to recognize the forty-three men—and they have all been men—who have been president on Presidents’ Day with the following essay. If you are lucky enough to have today off, enjoy:

American kids often say they want to be president when they grow up.  You have to wonder why. A few presidents have loved the job. Teddy Roosevelt said “No president has ever enjoyed himself as much as I have enjoyed myself.” Most presidents, though, have found the job demanding, perhaps too demanding. James K. Polk pretty much worked himself to exhaustion. Zachary Taylor, the hero of the Mexican-American War, found being president harder than leading men into battle. Dwight Eisenhower had a heart attack from the stress of leading the Free World. Many presidents express relief once they can be called “former president.” This trend started early. John Adams told his wife Abigail that George Washington looked too happy watching him take the oath of office. “Me–thought I heard him say, ‘Ay, I am fairly out and you fairly in! See which of us will be happiest!” Read more »

A Presidents’ Day Quiz

by James M. Lindsay
U.S. Navy F/A-18E Super Hornets fly by Mount Rushmore. (Lt. Anthony Dobson/U.S. Navy Handout/Courtesy Reuters) U.S. Navy F/A-18E Super Hornets fly by Mount Rushmore. (Lt. Anthony Dobson/U.S. Navy Handout/Courtesy Reuters)

Monday is Presidents’ Day. To get you in the proper celebratory mood, TWE presents its third annual Presidents’ Day quiz. You can find a link to the answers at the bottom of the post. By all means, if you have your own presidential trivia questions, please post them in the comments section so everyone can take a crack at answering them. And if you are feeling up to it, you can try the quizzes from 2012 and 2013 as well. Read more »

Can President Obama Persuade Americans to Support His Syria Policy?

by James M. Lindsay
President Barack Obama during the G20 summit in St. Petersburg, Russia (Kevin Lamarque/Courtesy Reuters). President Barack Obama during the G20 summit in St. Petersburg, Russia (Kevin Lamarque/Courtesy Reuters).

President Obama hopes to use his nationwide address tonight to persuade Americans of the necessity to punish Syria for using chemical weapons. But two polls out this morning suggest that it is a daunting task, and not one he is likely to accomplish. Read more »

Americans Still Doubt the Need for Military Strikes Against Syria

by James M. Lindsay
A protester holds up a sign against U.S. action in Syria as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Martin E. Dempsey, Secretary of State John Kerry, and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (Joshua Roberts/Courtesy Reuters). A protester holds up a sign against U.S. action in Syria as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Martin E. Dempsey, Secretary of State John Kerry, and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (Joshua Roberts/Courtesy Reuters).

Gallup is out with a new poll on what Americans think about military strikes against Syria.  Unlike the Pew Research Center and Washington Post/ABC News polls released on Tuesday, Gallup started questioning Americans after President Obama announced on Saturday that he was asking Congress to approve military action. But like the Pew and Post/ABC polls, Gallup found that far more Americans (51 percent) oppose military strikes than support them (36 percent). Read more »

Syria Revives the War Powers Debate

by James M. Lindsay
The United States Constitution (Courtesy of the National Archives) The United States Constitution (Courtesy of the National Archives)

President Obama’s determination that the United States should take military action to punish the Syrian government for using chemical weapons has revived the perennial debate over how the Constitution allocates the war power between Congress and the White House.  President Obama says he has “the authority to carry out this military action without specific congressional authorization,” but nonetheless is asking Congress to vote anyway. Some commentators have hailed this decision; others have criticized it for undermining presidential authority. Read more »

Obama Asks Congress to Vote on Syria

by James M. Lindsay
President Barack Obama makes remarks on the situation in Syria at the Rose Garden of the White House (Mike Theiler/Courtesy Reuters). President Barack Obama makes remarks on the situation in Syria at the Rose Garden of the White House (Mike Theiler/Courtesy Reuters).

President Obama’s announcement that he is asking Congress to authorize the use of military force against Syria comes as welcome news to proponents of the view that presidents cannot unilaterally initiate the use of military force. Although Obama endorsed that view back in 2007 before he became president, he pointedly declined to ask Congress to authorize U.S. military action against Libya in 2011. Read more »

How Do Obama’s First Term Job Approval Ratings Compare to Past Presidents?

by James M. Lindsay
President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama wave to supporters during the inaugural parade in Washington on January 21, 2013 (Doug Mills/Courtesy Reuters). President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama wave to supporters during the inaugural parade in Washington on January 21, 2013 (Doug Mills/Courtesy Reuters).

Gallup released a report yesterday showing that Barack Obama averaged a 49.1 percent job approval rating over his first term. How does that compare with other post-World War II presidents? Not terribly well.  As the chart below shows, only Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter fared worse. Obama’s immediate predecessor, George W. Bush, averaged a 62.2 percent job approval rating over his first term. (That thirteen-point advantage compared to Obama owes in good part to the historic rally-‘round-the-flag bump that Bush enjoyed after September 11). Read more »

Hola, Enrique Peña Nieto: President-Elect of Mexico

by James M. Lindsay
Mexico's president-elect, Enrique Peña Nieto, speaking after exit polls showed him in first place following Mexico's election on July 1. (Tomas Bravo/courtesy Reuters) Mexico's president-elect, Enrique Peña Nieto, speaking after exit polls showed him in first place following Mexico's election on July 1. (Tomas Bravo/courtesy Reuters)

Enrique Peña Nieto had a very good weekend. While Americans were grumbling about record-breaking heat and residents of Washington, D.C., were learning to live without air conditioning because powerful storms Friday night left them without electricity, he was winning Mexico’s presidential election. With nearly 90 percent of the ballots counted, he looks to have won roughly 38 percent of the vote, handily defeating Andrés Manuel López Obrador of the Partido de la Revolución Democrática (Party of the Democratic Revolution or PRD), who pulled in 32 percent, and Josefina Vázquez Mota of the Partido Acción Nacional (National Action Party or PAN), who pulled in 25 percent. Read more »

The World Next Week: World Powers Talk Syria, Mexicans Vote, and Congress Recesses

by James M. Lindsay
Kofi Annan, the joint special envoy of the UN and the Arab League for Syria, speaks during a press conference in Geneva. (Denis Balibouse/courtesy Reuters) Kofi Annan, the joint special envoy of the UN and the Arab League for Syria, speaks during a press conference in Geneva. (Denis Balibouse/courtesy Reuters)

The World Next Week podcast is up. Bob McMahon was out this week, so Stewart Patrick kindly offered to fill in. Stewart and I discussed the world powers crisis meeting on Syria in Geneva; the Mexican presidential election; and the U.S. House and Senate rise for recess. Read more »