As noted before, I began my career in the Foreign Service during the Carter presidency, and ended it during the Obama presidency: two horrific bookends.
Jimmy Carter should not have been president. He was incompetent beyond belief; angry about America's success in the world; wanted us to get our comeuppance; and was and is a mean, reptilian and graceless little man. Being out of office has made him even angrier, meaner, smaller, more anti-American, and more anti-semitic. He was and remains a repellent creature; if anyone ever could make me ashamed of my country, he could. I can't forgive him for that.
He caused the United States a considerable amount of damage. His economic policies were almost non-existent. He, in fact, never seemed to have an interest in the economy except to the extent that our dire economic performance during his term seemed to fit his view that we were being rightfully punished. He wanted Americans to live small, and see the future as a bleak struggle for atonement for past sins. His foreign policy was disastrous. The USSR and its vassals were on the march throughout the world, including in Latin America and the Caribbean, with virtually no resistance from the United States. His administration gutted our intelligence and covert capabilities; our military was a hollow shell; our international alliances were badly frayed; terrorist organizations and states, with Soviet-bloc support, operated openly in Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America; and the insane Imams of Iran turned a major ally into a major enemy.
Along came Reagan. He laughingly rejected the Carter premise that America deserved its "punishment" and that we could do nothing about the economy, the decline of American power, and the rising might of the Soviet empire. Reagan waved off the honking flocks of "intellectuals" who called him out-of-touch and dangerous. He connected with the American people and the great traditions of our country. He slashed taxes and our economy turned around; he took seriously the Constitution's main role for the president: national defense. Our military might came roaring back; he outmaneuvered the Soviets and brought them and their vast evil empire to their knees. It was a masterful performance. Reagan managed to fix most of the damage done by Carter--the Iranian disaster, however, continues to haunt us over three decades later--and he restored faith in America as the indispensable nation in the world.
We now are saddled with another abomination as president: one worse than Carter. The damage Obama has done to our economy and global standing, while immense, can be relatively easily fixed. The real damage he has done is more pernicious and perhaps permanent. He has participated fully and deliberately in undermining the essence of what it means to be an American. Let me explain.
Anybody remotely interested could know Carter, what he had done with his life, and what he advocated. He had an easily accessible public record. Obama, of course, is the most secretive and closed off president we have ever had. Only after years of badgering did he even release his birth certificate. We are not allowed to know about his education except that, like the absurd Elena Ceausescu, he is "brilliant." How did this self-admittedly mediocre high school student, from a relatively modest background, growing up in remote Hawaii and Indonesia as part of an apparently very dysfunctional family, manage to get into three expensive and "elite" universities? How did he come to their attention? Who vouched for him? Who paid? Did he claim to be a foreign student? What were his courses and grades? Who were his friends and teachers? In a celebrity obsessed world where we know everything about Tom Cruise and Britney Spears, we know next to nothing about the man who encumbers our presidency.
His political rise is shrouded in mystery. After Harvard, he suddenly moves to Chicago. Why? He becomes a "community organizer" there, and rapidly rises in the corrupt and crony-filled Democratic machine. He becomes the darling of gangsters such as Rezko, close friends with known terrorists and hate-mongers, and presto he is taking down opponents right and left and soon is in the White House. We can't ask anything about it all. To do so risks charges of racism. His ascendency is a liberal Hollywood fable and it must remain unquestioned and unexamined. He is our anointed leader. He is our Athena.
This is the first bit of damage he has done. It is now considered by the majority of the media and the other honking "intellectual" geese as off-limits to question Obama's life, his claimed achievements, or note the contradictions in what he has said and what he says now. Free speech is no longer so free. If you question the President, you are a racist, insane, a danger to democracy, hate the poor or all of the aforementioned. If you still hold the same views that he purported to hold up to a few weeks ago, e.g., the traditional definition of marriage, and failed to "evolve" when he did, then you are a hopeless homophobe; your business should be banned and ruined, and your employees bullied. This is not unlike Orwell's 1984, "We have never been at war with Eastasia . . . " You must keep up with the changes in Dear Leader's views. He will tell you when you can favor gay marriage; when you can raise closing Guantanamo; when the war will end; when the deficit must be cut with more spending. New Think is here.
Obama has become the incarnation of a troubling trend in our country that has accelerated over the past 40 or so years. He has become the head of what passes for modern progressivism: the alliance between tax-supported university faculties, lawyers, government bureaucrats, journalists, NGO "activists," and Hollywood. This alliance has promoted the politics of envy and resentment, and launched a sustained attack on traditional American values. Our country is now filled with the half-educated idiots who emerge from our universities with no real knowledge but with feelings of entitlement and resentment. We should stand in awe of people with PhDs regardless of whether what they say corresponds to the reality we see, because they know what's good for us. They are the "experts."
One should not underestimate the power of Hollywood in forming what passes for thinking by these impressionable morons. What many of our youth, and foreigners, think they know about America and American history, comes from movies and TV shows. Hollywood bombards us with the viewpoint that rich evil conservative white men (RECWM) are behind all of our troubles, and those of the world. Our heroes should be the brave lawyers who sue corporations; the brave journalists who expose the nefarious plots of the RECWM conspiracy; the brave activists who stand up to the "violent" gun nuts of the Tea Party; the gutsy abortion clinic workers who live in fear of their lives; the brave public servants, e.g., cops and perky assistant district attorneys, who protect us from the RECWM who, of course, are what all of us fear to encounter when we are in a dark parking lot.
Obama has captured this movement and its view, and represents and promotes it better than anybody else in living memory. Unlike Carter, Obama is not incompetent in promoting his hatred for America's traditional values and in embedding it into our institutions, e.g., the ruinous Obamacare, the rapid expansion of the federal dole, the insistence on apologizing for our successes, the disastrous "stimulus" spending, the glorification of the "victim" culture, promotion of envy and cynicism, and denigration of individual effort and success ("You didn't build that!") That is the real threat posed by what Obama represents. Overcoming that threat will take years of sustained effort. It begins, of course, with voting Obama out of the White House next November, but does not end there.