Why is Obama having trouble rallying public support on Syria?

Christopher Weyant, The Hill

Christopher Weyant, The Hill

A question raging now — and one that historians will most assuredly analyze in future years — is precisely why President Barack Obama is having so much trouble raising public support on Syria. Even with an unpopular military proposal that could elicit a “oh, not again” response from the public, exactly why are polls looking worse and worse for Obama? Are other factors involved as well?

The answer: yes. Some areas to ponder:

CBS News looks at the question in a panel discussion:

But could the thumbs down mood in Congress be influenced by the comments of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad that American could “expect everything” if Syria is hit? Could there be a backlash? NBC’s Chuck Todd thinks so — and say the administration is extremely worried about what a loss will mean in policy terms and also to Obama politically:

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There’s a convergence of the left and right against it and that also seems to involve a heavy dose of partisanship.

Plus, there is indeed a shift that has occurred in the Republican Party — but some of it is also a matter of partisanship and wanting to see Obama fail:

Of all the unexpected turns in the Syria debate, one stands out most: The GOP, the party of a muscular national defense, has gone the way of the dove.
A decade after leading the country into Iraq and Afghanistan, Republicans have little appetite or energy for a strike aimed at punishing Bashar Assad for allegedly gassing his own people. To the contrary, many of the party’s lawmakers are lining up to sink President Barack Obama’s war authorization vote.

Of the 279 Republicans currently in the House and Senate, 84 were also serving in October 2002. All, with the exception of one, voted to give George W. Bush authorization to invade Iraq. Now, just 10 of those 84 have come out in support of striking Syria. Most of the others have expressed serious reservations or are leaning against voting for the authorization.

That the shift has many possible causes — the enormous toll of American lives and taxpayer dollars exacted by two faraway wars since 2001, the antagonism toward a Democratic president, the very different circumstances in Syria than Iraq — makes it no less remarkable. From the Vietnam War through the Cold War and into Afghanistan and Iraq, an aggressive foreign policy has been as much a part of the Republican Party’s identity as low taxes and opposition to abortion.

Predictions: When there’s a Republican President the Party will shift back again.

But the bottom line is that many Americans a now war weary and distrustful of military operations in light of the looooooooooooooooong Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq wars which also peppered with assurances. To many Americans of both parties, leaders suggesting a military operation won’t drag on for years now strike them (no matter how valid the leaders’ concerns) like being like to Professor Harold Hill from Music Man trying to peddle his boys band idea by raisings concerns about a pool table:

  • sheknows

    Absolutely great cartoon!!
    IMO, if/when there is another R president and a crisis in the middles East, we will once again see nearly unanimous support from the incumbent R’s.
    The law of probability tells us there will be continued conflict in that region and maybe more use of chemical weapons. If we happen to have an R president and a majority house…we’ll be in the skies before ink is dried on the resolution.

    EJ….funny Music man reference.

  • sheknows

    Sorry…Joe not EJ

  • DaGoat

    The first video plays a conference on women in business when I click on it.

    And agree good Music Man reference, although most politicians make Harold Hill look like George Washington.

  • dduck

    Professor Harold Hill, sounds familiar.
    Likewise George Washington, no less a light than Michelle Bachman used his name to praise the general killing and jailing people in Egypt. I give up.

  • StockBoyLA

    President Bush was able to convince the American public that an invasion of Iraq was necessary for American interests. That Saddam had WMDs and would use them against the US. With Bush it was “You’re either with us or against us”. And everyone opposed to the Iraqi war was vilified. Of course Bush convinced the American public through lies.

    Obama has not convinced the American public that American interests are in any danger, so Americans see no need to support US military intervention in Syria.

    I believe that American interests ARE at stake in Syria. These are the long term security interests in the region, stability (and economic) and humanitarian interests. However most Americans only respond to threats that personally harm them. In making the case to invade Iraq, Bush made it clear that Iraq was harboring terrorists who would attack the US homeland… and the next terrorist bomb to go off might be in anyone’s backyard (so to speak). So naturally Americans wanted to protect themselves and supported the Iraq invasion. And anytime Bush wanted to accomplish something he trotted out the “us versus them” patriotism spiel and American homeland security.

    WIth Bush patriotism was everything both domestic and foreign policies.

    When was the last time you heard Obama talk about American homeland security?