The predicament now facing President Obama on Syria can be traced to two notions that shaped his foreign policy from the start. One is his evident belief that America and its foreign interventions are a big part of what was wrong with the world.
The other was -- or is -- his apparent view that his mere presence in office would change the attitude of the world, and especially the Muslim world, toward the U.S.
Neither of these ideas has proved out, but the president, who's thought a bright fellow, has been slow to learn that. Unfortunately, though, he was quick to pick up on another notion -- that Congress could and should be bypassed when it suited him on issues ranging from recess appointments, to immigration laws, to the employer mandate in his health care reform law.
Now he finds himself going hat-in-hand to Congress to obtain authority he said he doesn't need to engage in the kind of unilateral intervention he once decried.
And, in a Middle Eastern country whose leader has shown no regard for Mr. Obama himself or his "red line" warnings. It would be comforting to think that Syria is proving a lesson to the president about the U.S. and its exceptional place in the world. But it seems the president is prepared to act only to vindicate his own spurned warnings on chemical weapons. In other words, once again, it's all about him.