I’m sure I’m not the first to say this, but Barack Obama just does not appear to be big enough for the moment.
America remains the unchallenged leader of the world, yet we face serious problems that threaten to undermine our position and our future.
On one hand, we face a spiraling debt crisis. We are currently more than $16 trillion in debt and the number is climbing fast. Each American household owes $137,000 on the national debt. The path we are on is not sustainable. President Obama once called racking up huge debt “unpatriotic” but he has piled up more debt on his watch in just four years than his predecessor piled up in eight and more than any of the previous presidents by a mile. If that previous debt record was unpatriotic, then what should we call Obama’s?
Obama has not even made any serious attempt at a national budget, nor has he made any attempt at all to deal with the number one driver of our debt, which is entitlement spending. In fact, through his signature legislation, Obama has put the nation on the hook for more entitlement spending even while he robbed another entitlement program to pay for it.
On the other hand, we face several security challenges rising up in the world after the fall of the Soviet Union. The rise of China is both opportunity and threat, challenging our economic leadership and free market ethos while also challenging our position as guarantor of the peace in Asia and across the Pacific rim. Our strength helps keep a lid on the always simmering tensions between nuclear-armed India and nuclear-armed failing state Pakistan. Only the United States can keep these peaces, as we possess the only navy with unchallengable global capabilities and the only air and ground forces that can go anywhere and defeat any foe. But our rising debt threatens our ability to field and maintain the capabilities that America and the world need. We also face rising threats from the likes of Iran and a resurgent Muslim Brotherhood/al Qaeda/Ansar al-Sharia in the wake of the Arab Spring. The Arab Spring has turned out in reality to be an Islamist Spring. We are losing Egypt and Libya is becoming a haven from which terrorists can project force into the region and into the Mediterranean. Democrats always accuse Republicans of wanting to “turn back the clock” on this or that domestic issue, but the global sharia drive really would turn back the clock, to a medieval outlook of which Saladin would approve. Only the United States can keep the peace in a Middle East in which Iranian nuclear arms would threaten the annihilation of Israel and trigger a nightmarish regional nuclear arms race. That arms race would in turn threaten the supply of oil, lifeblood for the global economy. The United States has to be led by someone who wants to keep us on top, to stay on top.
These are big problems, requiring big thinking to tackle them.
But as the campaign for president heads into its final whirlwind days, Barack Obama is not thinking big at all. He and his campaign have gone small ball, chasing Big Bird one week, binders the next, and mocking Mitt Romney when he warns of drastic defense cuts that everyone knows are just over the horizon unless the president and Congress act to stop them.
The national debt and the sequestration cuts are huge destabilizing forces. They threaten America’s position in the world. They empower the enemies of freedom and rule of law all over the world.
In the final debate and afterward, again the nation is getting no big thinking from Barack Obama. He released a “new” booklet of campaign proposals that turned out to be nothing but old rehashed boilerplate. The point of the book wasn’t the ideas within it, but to have a book to hold up and say “See, I have a plan.”
That’s not good enough. It’s unworthy of the presidency and unworthy of the moment.
Four years ago, Barack Obama promised so much that he seemed to be promising rainbows and unicorns for all. He has not delivered on any of his promises save the ones made to the hard left and Big Labor. The middle class has been “buried” as his own vice president said, while Obama does nothing but propose tax hikes on job creators and claim to defend the middle class that, for twenty years, he heard loudly rejected in his own church.
Four years later America is still waiting for some evidence of those unicorns Obama promised, but all we’re getting is Potemkin plans, jokes about Big Bird, “Romnesia,” and mockery about “horses and bayonets.” It’s all too small for the very big moment in which we live.