President Obama fled his plunging job approval polls this week in search of support in Europe for his war on Syria. Sweden was his first stop where he made no sale.
With America's lackluster, job-declining economy now in its fifth year, Obama has once again left the country to see if he can change the subject at home where he's become increasingly unpopular. It doesn't seem to be working.
Thursday's Gallup Poll reports that nearly 50 percent of Americans now disapprove of Obama's performance. Only 43 percent approve.
But early signs suggest Obama is no more successful at convincing European leaders about waging war against Syrian thug Bashar al-Assad than he's been at handling America's economy and other major issues here at home.
The Swedes said they couldn't support any unilateral response to Syria's use of chemical weapons. The mood in France is similar where lawmakers want U.N. approval they know they're not going to get. Great Britain says it's staying out of this one.
As this is written, the response to Obama's war-making initiative from other European leaders at the Group of 20 economic summit, hosted by Russian President Vladimir Putin in St. Petersburg, doesn't look promising.
There's been no clarion calls from other European allies in support of Obama's call for action, further damaging his attempted leadership abroad.
Meantime, relations between Obama and Putin are as cold as a Moscow winter after the ruthless former KGB agent granted temporary asylum to American traitor and leaker Edward Snowden. Obama cancelled their planned meeting at the summit.
But as bad as the president's situation looks in Europe, it's not any better here where he's getting failing grades from the American people on his approach to the crisis in Syria.
This week's Washington Post/ABC News poll found that nearly 60 percent of Americans oppose Obama's plan to conduct a limited bombing campaign on Assad's military facilities. Among independent voters, opposition is at 66 percent.
There's less support for the U.S. "supplying weapons to the Syrian rebels," with a whopping 77 percent opposing such actions.
Those numbers reflect the deeply divided 10-to-7 vote of approval that the Democratic controlled Senate Foreign Relations Committee gave to Obama's war authorization resolution Wednesday.
For some Democrats, this one was a hold your nose and vote yes situation, insiders told me. Two Democrats sided with five Republicans in voting no. A third Democrat, liberal Sen. Edward Markey of Massachusetts, opposed the resolution but didn't want to be seen opposing Obama, so he voted "present."
Hardly a strong vote of confidence from his own party.
All of this exposes a president who does not have the ability to lead his own country out of a recession, nor does he possess the leadership qualities needed on the larger world stage in an increasingly dangerous world.
This week, he was reduced to sophomoric, flim-flam arguments, denying that he set the "red line" he publicly declared a year ago in his warning to Assad against using chemical weapons in his attempt to defeat Syrian rebels seeking to topple his brutal regime.
With a straight face Wednesday, Obama told reporters, "I didn't set a red line." He went on to say that line was set when the international community ratified a global treaty that forbid the use of chemical weapons.
That kind of linguistic gymnastics may work for awhile in a political campaign here at home, but on the grown-up, global stage, it smacks of trickery and deceit.
When a president goes abroad to deal with the world's leaders, the level of respect he earns and receives is by definition drawn from his achievements at home. On this level, Obama carries an empty suit case.
For nearly half a decade, Obama has presided over a lethargic economy that he is incapable of nursing back to full health and vigor. Recent surveys and economic reports testify to his failure. Among them:
-- Economic confidence is falling: "Americans remained more negative than positive last month about economic conditions in the U.S," the Gallup Poll reported Tuesday.
-- U.S. workers "still haven't shaken" their job fears of 2009:
"Nearly five years since the start of the financial crisis, "employed Americans continue to express elevated concerns about their job security," Gallup said Monday.
August polls found that U.S. workers "exhibit the most widespread concern about having their benefits reduced, and that remains the case today, with 43 percent saying so," Gallup reported.
-- "The U.S. economy looks headed for a rough autumn, with slowdown threats looming from the housing market, the Middle East and Washington," the Washington Post reported Wednesday.
-- Recent job gains "have been heavily weighted toward part-time positions," says University of Maryland business economist Peter Morici.
"Since January, 936,000 additional Americans report working part- time, while only 27,000 more say they have obtained full time positions," he says. The shift to lower-paying, part-time work is "a reaction to Obamacare health insurance mandates [that] puts downward pressure on wages and benefits in low paying industries...and widens income inequality."
These and other trends in America's economic decline won't change until Obama's policies are changed. But he's out of the country at the moment, pretending to be a world leader without a following.
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