The volatile stock market of late causes many people to lay the blame strictly on the Obama administration's misguided economic policies and Standard & Poor's downgrade of the U.S. credit rating, compounded by gridlock in Congress and a broken budget process.
All of these are contributing factors, to be sure, but it goes way beyond domestic economic policy. It speaks to Barack Obama's lack of leadership and principles, and how Europe's perception of a rudderless and drfting America takes its toll in many ways.
After all, European markets both influence and feed on what the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq do. Investors in Europe recognize that many of their nations are fiscally sick and remain mired in recession. They also realize that the odds of Europe rebounding are dismal as long as the United States remains mired in a deep funk.
The U.S. long-term fiscal outlook is so dire, it inspires little confidence in our nation's ability to carry forward the torch of exceptionalism that has benefited Europe and the rest of the world for so long.
Granted, Obama has not gone far-left in the war on terror as would be the case if left-wing crackpots like Dennis Kucinich or Bernie Sanders were in charge. He increased troops in Afghanistan, approved extending key elements of the Patriot Act such as warrantless wiretapping, ordered the killing of Osama bin Laden, and continues to use Predator drones to kill suspected terrorists. Still, his naivete is disturbing.
Early on, Obama talked about sitting down with Iranian madman Mahmoud Ahmadinejad with no preconditions to try to find common ground and a mutually beneficial way forward. Think about it: Believing that it makes sense to negotiate in good faith with a nut who denies the Holocaust even happened and has stated he wants to wipe Israel off the map... This is idiocy.
The administration's halting and confused reactions to uprisings in Egypt, Libya and elsewhere, plus its failure to support dissidents in Iran in 2009, don't demonstrate any wisdom, courage or leadership.
The long-lasting stalemate in Libya may finally be reaching a dramatic conclusion as I type, as Muammar Gaddafi apparently is on the verge of being ousted. But one wonders whether the regime would have crumbled even without the NATO bombing campaign, as the rebel forces seem to have had little difficulty lining up new soldiers over the past several months, and defections from within Gaddafi's ranks have been plentiful. His was a brittle regime in its dying days. Its time has come to an end, as happens eventually to all despotic regimes.
Whether it's an uneven foreign policy, economic malaise, a lack of free trade agreements, or heavy debt to China, the Obama administration does little to restore faith in America, and there is no indication this will change by November 2012.