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"

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 »

TWE Remembers: The War of 1812

by James M. Lindsay
A depiction of the British attack on Washington, DC, during the War of 1812. (Library of Congress) A depiction of the British attack on Washington, DC, during the War of 1812. (Library of Congress)

Some dates in American history stand out. Mention April 12, 1861, December 7, 1941, or September 11, 2001 and most people know what historical event you have in mind. Ask what happened on June 18, 1812, however, and the most likely response is a blank stare. But on this date in 1812, the United States, then a weak and fragile country on the fringes of the known world, declared war on Great Britain, then one of the world’s most powerful countries. Read more »

The World Next Week: U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue, U.S. House Recess, and Thomas Lubanga

by James M. Lindsay
Indian minister of external affairs S.M. Krishna in April. (Mohamed Abd El Ghany/courtesy Reuters) Indian minister of external affairs S.M. Krishna in April. (Mohamed Abd El Ghany/courtesy Reuters)

The World Next Week podcast is up. Bob McMahon and I discussed the upcoming U.S.-India strategic dialogue; the U.S. House breaking for its Flag Day recess; and the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) impending sentencing of Congolese rebel leader Thomas Lubanga. Read more »

TWE Remembers: The Marshall Plan

by James M. Lindsay
The title page of Secretary of State George C. Marshall's remarks at Harvard University on June 5, 1947. (George C. Marshall Foundation) The title page of Secretary of State George C. Marshall's remarks at Harvard University on June 5, 1947. (George C. Marshall Foundation)

Most commencement addresses are forgettable. The speaker gives some advice on how to live a productive life, advice that typically means more to the wistful parents in the audience recalling the mistakes they made along the way than to the headstrong students convinced that they will conquer the world. A few commencement speeches resonate beyond the venue in which they are given because of the speaker’s unusual eloquence and urgency. Almost no commencement addresses change the world. But the commencement address that Secretary of State George C. Marshall gave on June 5, 1947 to Harvard’s graduating class did just that. Read more »

TWE Remembers: Memorial Day

by James M. Lindsay
A U.S. Army Medal of Honor from the 1940s. (Library of Congress) A U.S. Army Medal of Honor from the 1940s. (Library of Congress)

The United States has fought twelve major wars and a countless number of smaller skirmishes. Memorial Day is our way of honoring the soldiers, sailors, airmen, airwomen, and marines who did not return home. The holiday dates back to the months immediately following the Civil War when a few towns and cities began honoring their dead. In 1868, General John A. Logan designated May 30 as “Decoration Day,” the purpose of which would be “strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion.” The holiday was renamed Memorial Day after World War I, and its purpose became to honor all Americans who have died fighting the nation’s wars. Read more »

TWE Celebrates Memorial Day

by James M. Lindsay
The African American Civil War Memorial in Washington, DC. (Courtesy Reuters) The African American Civil War Memorial in Washington, DC. (Courtesy Reuters)

Monday marks Memorial Day here in the United States. Cities and towns across the country will hold parades and ceremonies to honor the men and women who served and died in the U.S. armed forces. If you happen to be in Washington, DC, you can choose from dozens of monuments and memorials to visit. Some of them are well-known: the World War II Memorial, the Vietnam Memorial, the Marine Corps War Memorial, and Arlington National Read more »

TWE Remembers: General Douglas MacArthur’s Speech to Congress

by James M. Lindsay
A copy of General Douglas MacArthur's speech to a joint session of Congress on April 19, 1951. (Library of Congress) A copy of General Douglas MacArthur's speech to a joint session of Congress on April 19, 1951. (Library of Congress)

Americans love generals. We have elected twelve of them president. But for a president, generals can be an enormous pain—and a political threat. James K. Polk worried (rightly) that Winfield Scott was hankering after his job. Abraham Lincoln couldn’t get George B. McClellan to fight, finally relieved him of command of the Army of the Potomac, and then beat him decisively in the 1864 election. Read more »

Do Americans Prefer Romney’s Foreign Policy to Obama’s?

by James M. Lindsay
U.S. Republican presidential candidate and former Governor of Massachusetts Romney speaks during a campaign event in Wilmington, Delaware. (Tim Shaffer/courtesy Reuters) U.S. Republican presidential candidate and former Governor of Massachusetts Romney speaks during a campaign event in Wilmington, Delaware. (Tim Shaffer/courtesy Reuters)

I’ve spent most of my time the past two weeks discharging my administrative responsibilities rather than following the news. With the stack of papers piled in my inbox now looking to be just daunting rather than terrifying, I decided to catch up on the news. So far most of what I have read has been unsurprising. The Syrian government agreed to a cease-fire and then broke it. North Korea promised not to launch a long-range missile and then did just that. Iran offered to talk about a nuclear deal while continuing to intimidate its neighbors.  People behaved badly when they went abroad or visited Las Vegas.  All are essentially dog-bites-man stories. Read more »