The question is just how bad.
Enter Mark Steyn, who crunches some numbers as he describes the degree of US debt and attempts to puncture the cocoon of denial:
Ring out the new, ring in the old. No, hang on, that should be the other way around, shouldn't it? Not as far as 2011 was concerned. The year began with a tea-powered Republican caucus taking control of the House of Representatives and pledging to rein in spendaholic government. It ended with President Obama making a pro forma request for a mere $1.2 trillion increase in the debt ceiling. This will raise government debt to $16.4 trillion – a new world record! If only until he demands the next debt-ceiling increase in three months' time.The question is Americans will really appreciate the hole we have dug ourselves into before the consequences of the US debt fully take effect.
At the end of 2011, America, like much of the rest of the Western world, has dug deeper into a cocoon of denial. Tens of millions of Americans remain unaware that this nation is broke – broker than any nation has ever been. A few days before Christmas, we sailed across the psychological Rubicon and joined the club of nations whose government debt now exceeds their total GDP. It barely raised a murmur – and those who took the trouble to address the issue noted complacently that our 100 percent debt-to-GDP ratio is a mere two-thirds of Greece's. That's true, but at a certain point per capita comparisons are less relevant than the sheer hard dollar sums: Greece owes a few rinky-dink billions; America owes more money than anyone has ever owed anybody ever.
Public debt has increased by 67 percent over the past three years, and too many Americans refuse even to see it as a problem. For most of us, "$16.4 trillion" has no real meaning, any more than "$17.9 trillion" or "$28.3 trillion" or "$147.8 bazillion." It doesn't even have much meaning for the guys spending the dough: Look into the eyes of Barack Obama or Harry Reid or Barney Frank, and you realize that, even as they're borrowing all this money, they have no serious intention of paying any of it back. That's to say, there is no politically plausible scenario under which the 16.4 trillion is reduced to 13.7 trillion, and then 7.9 trillion and, eventually, 173 dollars and 48 cents. At the deepest levels within our governing structures, we are committed to living beyond our means on a scale no civilization has ever done.
But while Americans have a sense of the failure of the Obama administration to adequately address the problems of the US economy, about half of the US thinks Obama isn't doing so bad when it comes to foreign affairs.
Caroline Glick writes that contrary to perceptions, Obama's foreign policies have been more damaging to the US than Jimmy Carter's:
Whereas 67 percent of Americans disapproved of Obama’s handling of the economy and the federal budget deficit, 63% of Americans approved of his terrorism strategy. So, too, 52% approved of his decision to remove US forces from Iraq. In general, 49% of Americans approved of Obama’s handling of foreign affairs while 44% disapproved.Other examples include Obama's foreign policy vis-a-vis Libya, Syria Iran and the Palestinian Arabs.
These support levels tell us a great deal about the insularity of the American public. For when one assesses the impact to date of Obama’s foreign policy it is impossible to avoid the conclusion that if the US public was more aware of the actual consequences of his policies, his approval rating in foreign affairs would be even lower than his approval rating in domestic policy. Indeed, a cursory examination of the impact so far of Obama’s foreign policies in country after country and region after region indicates that his policies have been more damaging to US national interests than those of any president since Jimmy Carter. And unlike Obama, Americans widely recognized that Carter’s foreign policies were failed and dangerous.
The failure of Obama’s foreign policies has been nowhere more evident than in the Middle East.
Take Iraq for instance. Obama and his supporters claim that the withdrawal of all US forces from Iraq is one of his great accomplishments.
By pulling out, Obama kept his promise to voters to end the war in “a responsible manner.” And as the polling data indicate, most Americans are willing to give him credit for the move.
But the situation on the ground is dangerous and getting worse every day. Earlier this month, just ahead of the departure of the last US forces from Iraq, Iraq’s Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki visited with Obama at the White House. Immediately after he returned home, the Shi’ite premier began a ruthless campaign against his Sunni coalition partners in a no-holds barred bid to transform the Iraqi government and armed forces into partisan institutions controlled by his Dawa Party.
Forces commanded by Maliki’s son arrested and allegedly tortured several of the Sunni Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi’s bodyguards. They forced the guards to implicate Hashimi in terror plots. Maliki subsequently issued an arrest warrant for Hashimi. So, too, he issued an arrest warrant for the Sunni Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlak and fired him without permission from the Iraqi parliament.
Hashimi and Mutlak are now in hiding in Erbil. Maliki is demanding that the Kurdish regional government extradite them to Baghdad for trial.
That leaves the obvious question: if Obama's foreign policy puts him on the level of Jimmy Carter, why has Obama successfully avoided that comparison?
Glick responds to the question:
Obama’s success in hiding his failures from the American public owes to two related factors. First, to date the US has not been forced to contend directly with the consequences of his failures.Glick suggests that the Republican candidates focus more on those failures.
With only 11 months till the election, world events may yet do for Obama's re-election chances what they did to Carter's.
Technorati Tag: Election 2012 and US Economy and Obama and Foreign Policy.