There is a sickness gripping America, an systemic illness that threatens President Obama more than any particular problem.
Because the problems are but symptoms of the illness.
Two of the symptoms appeared just in the last few hours: the downgrade of U.S. debt, and the shooting down of a Chinook helicopter in Afghanistan, killing 31 U.S. special forces.
The downgrade is not just an economic blow; it’s a disgrace. The helicopter is not an isolated incident, but consistent with stepped up attacks by a Taliban sensing our eagerness to leave.
The illness, perceived by a country that overwhelmingly says things are on the wrong track, is such: This country is out of control, and the president is either incompetent or unwilling to lead it.
Other symptoms abound: the abnegation of the U.S. leadership in the world, the rise of China to take our place, the failure to deal with a gnat like Qaddafi, the high price of gasoline, the millions of jobless Americans.
The president has both created the illness and failed to cure it, because he has failed to rise above his limitations: He is a leader who has never led anything larger than a Senate office, and he is a liberal ideologue.
The credit downgrade is the direct result of the president’s failure to get a handle on the cascading U.S. debt, a potentially existential threat to the nation. Instead of proposing serious solutions, he has actually raised spending, increasing outlays for many discretionary domestic programs and dropping an $800 billion stimulus bomb on the country.
And he took a trillion in potential debt reduction off the table when he “paid for” his health reform law, which will inevitably cost even more. This was exactly like someone who is maxed out on their credit cards heading over to Best Buy and coming home with a top of the line 60″ flat screen TV and a state of the art sound system.
Like such a compulsive shopper, Obama just had to have it. His ideology trumped any sense of responsible management of the country.
Similarly the war in Afghanistan. Presented by the military with the options of increasing troops by 80,000 to get the job done or 40,000 to maybe get the job done, he took 35,000. And just as even this limited number was starting to have some success, he began withdrawing them.
If the job is not going to get done, it would have been better to take the option that had been offered by Vice President Biden – ignominious defeat, with the withdrawal of most troops while trying to keep the pressure on al Qaeda. At least we wouldn’t be wasting lives.
But the president harbors the traditional liberal abhorrence of anything having to do with war. It just is not in him to fight a war in the brutal manner necessary to win it. And so we have incompetent leadership in wartime.
Conservatives will be out in force in 2012 because of Obama’s ideology. But what’s worse for him, independents are turning on him because of his incompetence.
Both groups will be responding to the pervasive sickness, that of a great nation suffering indignities and crises it hasn’t experienced since the era of the last failed Democratic president, Jimmy Carter.