If there is any indication that Obama's lack of leadership has hurt the US, it is the current situation with Syria.
He is unable to build a coalition the way Bush did. He may have had British PM David Cameron convinced action needs to be taken in the wake of Assad's chemical attacks against his enemies (ie, his own people), but Parliament told him no. This is the first time in a long time where a PM has been told no by Parliament regarding usage of the military. You can chalk this up to two reasons:
One: Bush and Iraq. Apparently the Brits are still upset that Bush fabricated intelligence from MI6 to justify action in Iraq. (Fool me once, shame on me; fool me twice....um....well....you're not going to fool me again.)
Two: The Brits know Obama won't do anything except shake his fist before he says, "Oh, never mind," and returns to the golf course.
It's likely a combination of both, but with more emphasis on the second. Do they really think Obama means what he says, or can pull it off? Probably not, so why waste the time and money?
In the wake of the British vote, the haughty John Kerry, who served in Vietnam, made a speech where he praised France, our "oldest ally", for (verbally) supporting military action. Yeah, France helped us beat Britain 237 years ago, and have been surrendering ever since, but I suppose the "oldest" title still applies. I'm sure the British are stunned by the remark, and they may have even stopped laughing by the time you read this.
So, instead, Obama, as he searches the golf course for a solution, is tossing around the idea that the U.S. will go it alone on this one. 'Merica, heck yeah! Get 'er done!
Obviously this "no confidence" vote does not sit well with the administration, nor does it make us look good. There was a time, not so long ago, when this wouldn't have happened.
There is a third reason, I suppose, and it's certainly an unspoken one.
Is it really a crisis when Arabs kill Arabs? Are we really worse off because there are now less Arabs in the world? The CIA says just over 1400 people were killed in the chemical attack. That means there are 1400 less Arabs to fly planes into buildings. The media and the politicos are trying to make a case that we need to do something, but I'm not sure the public cares. Maybe we're all still upset about Iraq.
It's a disaster all around. But Obama drew a red line, said, "Don't y'all cross this, I mean it," and now he has to follow through.
Ultimately the president is going to launch a missile off the deck of a ship, hit a camel in the butt, and declare victory. He'll go on a national speaking tour and tell us how he, alone, gave Syria the what-for just like when he killed bin Laden and the rest of the world better remember not to mess with the U.S. See how that rhymed?
BRIAN DRAKE is a broadcaster in California and the author of The Rogue Gentleman, a thriller in the tradition of Vince Flynn and Brad Thor.