Remember when candidate Barack Obama promised his acolytes that they were only “five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America”? That was back in October 2008, when the hectic flush of Obamamania was at its peak. To be fair, it’s taken a bit longer than five days, but here we are, five years into the most destructive presidency in the country’s history, and we can see that fundamental transformation at work just about everywhere.
The economy: During Obama’s first term, the credit rating of the United States was downgraded by S&P for the first time in history. That might seem pretty abstract: who cares about a country’s credit rating? But then there’s news like this: According to a report released in 2012 by the Federal Reserve, Americans have seen their wealth plummet by 40 percent over the past few years. Hope & Change!
Race relations: They are in a rawer state than I can remember thanks to a president who played the race card at every opportunity. The Cambridge police were “stupid,” according to the president, in the way they handled the case of Henry Louis Gates, Jr., famous Harvard huckster, back in 2009. If he had had a son, said the president, he would “look like” the thug Trayvon Martin, who jumped George Zimmerman and was shot dead by Zimmerman while pounding his head into the concrete sidewalk.
And then there’s the position of the United States on the world stage. Obama was supposed to hit the “reset” button not only with respect to our relations with Russia (how’s that working out?), but also with respect to our position in the world more generally. The bad old days of unilateral action under George W. Bush were to be banished in favor of a kinder, gentler America that was no more “exceptional” than was Britain or Greece. He’s certainly done a lot to make that true. “Not since the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991,” the historian Conrad Black observed yesterday, “and prior to that the fall of France in 1940, has there been so swift an erosion of the world influence of a Great Power as we are witnessing with the United States.” Black continues:
What we are witnessing now in the United States . . . [is] the backwash of inept policy-making in Washington, and nothing that could not eventually be put right. But for this administration to redeem its credibility now would require a change of direction and method so radical it would be the national equivalent of the comeback of Lazarus: a miraculous revolution in the condition of an individual (President Obama), and a comparable metamorphosis (or a comprehensive replacement) of the astonishingly implausible claque around him.
Until recently, it would have been unimaginable to conceive of John Kerry as the strongman of the National Security Council. This is the man who attended political catechism classes from the North Vietnamese to memorize and repeat their accusations against his country of war crimes in Indochina, and, inter alia, ran for president in 2004 asserting that while he had voted to invade Iraq in 2003, he was not implicated in that decision because he did not vote to fund the invasion once underway.
For the America-hating, transnational progressive Left, the disaster that is Obama must have been fun at first: warm and fuzzy speeches in Cairo about how, deep down, Islam is as American as apple pie, economically suicidal decisions like the veto of the Keystone pipeline, unleashing the Internal Revenue Service against groups that promoted things like patriotism or the tea party: wot larks! But even the most irresponsible spoiled follower of Saul Alinsky must have some misgiving at the tectonic shifts that are happening under his feet. The long march through the institutions of bourgeois capitalism is an amusing trek so long as you are the one giving the marching orders and commanding the funds and the security to make sure that, if there is any rough stuff, you are well out of it. But when that changes? If there is a tune everyone will remember from the Obama administration, it will the the percussive sound of scurrying feet, rodent feet hurrying to get off the ship.
So stayed tuned. Obama drew (or didn’t draw: depends when you ask him) a “red line” about Syria: if Assad uses chemical weapons, then, then, then . . . like Lear’s famous aposiopesis he is reduced to blustering: “I will have such revenges on you . . . That all the world shall — I will do such things —/ what they are yet I know not, but they shall be / the terrors of the earth.” Meanwhile, alas, Michael Morell, deputy director of the CIA, recently said that toppling Assad would be the biggest threat in the world to U.S. security. All those weapons, all those al-Qaeda groups: a bad mixture. Scurry, scurry, scurry. “I don’t remember a time,” said Morell, “when there have been so many national security issues on the front burner as there are today.” Thank goodness we have John “reporting for duty” Kerry and Barack Obama handling things. Feeling better?