President Obama’s weakness at home is beginning to frustrate his international agenda.Wednesday’s summit in Mexico, where Obama met with President Enrique Peña Nieto and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, was supposed to be an opportunity to work on deepening integration between the three countries. Unfortunately, the three main programs on the docket were the Trans Pacific Partnership, immigration reform, and the Keystone pipeline, all of which are foundering in Washington. Some of this is by the President’s own design (he has never been particularly fond of Keystone). Immigration reform and the TPP, however, are key parts of his agenda. In the case of the latter, moreover, much of the opposition comes from within his own party: Two thirds of House Democrats oppose the TPP, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who has come close to nixing it completely.As a result, Obama has had to avoid discussion of key issues at the Mexico summit. Right now, the overall trip looks like a flop. The New York Times has more:
Ms. Hills said Tuesday that the Toluca meeting “provides an outstanding opportunity” for the three leaders to agree “on concrete actions like collaborating on trade positions in the Trans-Pacific Partnership and moving forward on regulatory compatibility” to make North America more competitive.But Peter Hakim, president emeritus of the Inter-American Dialogue, a Washington research group, said that “the significance of the visit has fallen precipitously” with Mr. Obama’s fading hopes for immigration legislation or trade authority. “If no progress can be made on either, what’s the point?” he asked. “Things now look like the tripartite meeting will be reduced to a celebration of Mexico progress on reforms plus a lot of what-ifs.”
As President Obama’s position in Washington weakens, he’s learning the hard way that trouble at home has a way of spilling over into foreign policy. Without some sort of domestic rebound, key elements of his international agenda are in serious danger.