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"

What the New Republican Congress Means for Foreign Policy

by James M. Lindsay
McConnell Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) addresses supporters at his victory rally in Louisville, Kentucky. (Shannon Stapleton/Courtesy Reuters)

Electoral math is unforgiving. The Democrats had twenty-one seats up for election yesterday. Seven of them were in states that Mitt Romney won in 2012. Midterm elections typically attract fewer voters, and those who go to the polls are older, whiter, and less congenial to Democrats. The president’s approval ratings are hovering around 40 percent. Add all that up, and you get a convincing GOP win in the 2014 elections. Here are three quick thoughts on what it all means. Read more »

Will President Obama’s New ISIS Strategy Reassure a Concerned Public?

by James M. Lindsay
Obama Air Strikes ISIS President Obama delivers an address to the nation on his plans for military action against ISIS. (Saul Loeb/Courtesy Reuters)

Anyone who tuned into President Obama’s address to the nation last night expecting to hear a detailed plan to defeat ISIS came away disappointed. The president spoke mostly in generalities and skirted tough questions. But laying out a detailed plan that would pass muster with experts wasn’t his primary purpose. Reassuring a public worried about the ISIS threat, and his response to it, was. Read more »

Americans Support Air Strikes But Remain Leery About an Activist Foreign Policy

by James M. Lindsay
Iraq Airstrikes Public Opinion A U.S. F/A-18F Super Hornet refuels mid-air after launching from the USS George H.W. Bush aircraft carrier in the Arabian Gulf on August 10. (U.S. Navy Handout/Courtesy Reuters)

The Wall Street Journal and NBC News are out with a new poll this morning on American public attitudes on using military force against ISIS. Like the Washington Post/ABC News poll released yesterday, it finds strong public support for air strikes and skepticism of President Obama’s handling of foreign policy. Beyond that, however, Americans remain cool toward a deeper military commitment in the Middle East and toward an activist U.S. foreign policy more broadly. Read more »

American Public Support for Air Strikes Against ISIS Grows

by James M. Lindsay
Obama Air Strikes Iraq President Obama speaks on the air strikes in Iraq from the South Lawn of the White House on August 9. (Yuri Gripas/Courtesy Reuters)

With President Obama set to address to the nation tomorrow night on his strategy for dealing with the Islamic State, the Washington Post and ABC News released a poll this morning showing substantial (and growing) public support for his policy of air strikes against the Islamic State. Ironically, however, that support isn’t translating into approval for how Obama has handled the ISIS threat. Read more »

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 »