Commentary Magazine


Losing Faith in the Commander in Chief

Two foreign-policy items stand out in the latest Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll. By a 42-to-34-percent margin, voters think a terror attack is more likely today than it was a year ago. By a 47-to-34-percent margin, voters think al-Qaeda is more determined than Obama to win the war in Afghanistan.

This is, in some sense, a stunning vote of no-confidence in the president as commander in chief. But there is good reason for voters to have doubts whether Obama is doing what is needed, as the folks say, to keep America safe. He is bound and determined to close Guantanamo and bring the detainees to American soil, at least for trial. He has declared war on the CIA — cutting off its role in interrogating top suspects, reinvestigating operatives, and revealing interrogation techniques. On Afghanistan his equivocation is plain for all to see and his unwillingness to fight for resources from Congress and rally the country has not gone unnoticed.

Americans may not yet see these matters as top issues as long as the economy and health-care debate dominate the news. But the cumulative picture of a president who dithers, who excuses our adversaries and rebuffs our friends, and who is willing to tolerate what months before was not tolerable will exact a toll. At some point, Americans may feel not only less safe but unsafe. And when that happens, there is a single person who will be held responsible. There are no Republicans to blame for this one.