Pollster John Zogby reports in our weekly White House report card that President Obama, deserted by the public and Britain on Syria, has lost the kind of presidential power previous presidents had in international affairs.
"Do you remember a much simpler time not so long ago when the president of the United States was the 'leader of the free world' and the 'most powerful man in the world'? That president could launch a war (by any other name) by declaring it a 'police action' or even fabricate evidence and present it to Congress (Gulf of Tonkin 1964, 'weapons of mass destruction' 2003).
"Not any more. We are in the middle of so many tectonic changes. President Obama promised that if the Syrian regime actually used chemical weapons, thus crossing a red line, there would be military reprisals. Earlier in the week, it looked like he would build a national and international consensus, get his way and launch a surgical action by the time of this writing.
"But something happened: the Arab League and Saudi Arabia refused to give him a green light, the British Parliament has rejected Prime Minister David Cameron's case to support action, and there is opposition by both leading Democrats and Republicans in Congress. And only 7 percent of the American public have a stomach for U.S. involvement in Syria.
"Watching the videos of Syrian victims is very difficult, but sometimes being president is not all it is cracked up to be. Air strikes will most likely still happen, but under much different circumstances than appeared likely at the beginning of the week."
Zogby is the senior analyst for Zogby Analytics and author (with Joan Snyder Kuhl) of "The First Globals: Understanding, Managing, and Unleashing our Millennial Generation."
Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.