Barack Obama is on his way to being the worst president in U.S. history. This has not dawned on him - yet. But it will soon.
Last week, Oprah Winfrey in her "Christmas at the White House" special asked the president what grade he would give himself for his first year in office.
"A good, solid B-plus," Mr. Obama said. "I think we have inherited the biggest set of challenges of any president since Franklin Delano Roosevelt. We stabilized the economy. ... We are on our way out of Iraq. I think we've got the best possible plan for Afghanistan. We have reset our image around the world." Mr. Obama added: "I think that we're going to pass the most significant piece of social legislation since Social Security, and that's health insurance for every American."
If health care reform is enacted, Mr. Obama smugly asserted, "we tip into A-minus."
This is grade inflation at its worst. He is living in a liberal bubble - a bubble that is about to burst.
Mr. Obama's grade is an F. His economic policies have failed to restore robust growth. After passing his $787 billion fiscal stimulus package, he vowed that the unemployment rate would not rise above 8 percent. It now stands at 10 percent - and many economists expect it to climb next year to 11 percent or higher. This is not economic recovery. It is failure.
More ominously, Mr. Obama's massive budget deficits threaten our long-term economic security. America is being buried under a mountain of red ink. The government deficit for fiscal 2009 was $1.4 trillion. It is projected to be $1.5 trillion in fiscal 2010. Over the next decade, the national debt is expected to explode by $10 trillion - doubling under Mr. Obama's spend-and-borrow liberalism. Our current debt level is already a staggering $12 trillion. By the time Mr. Obama is done, it will be more than $21 trillion.
We cannot sustain that kind of debt load. The results will be skyrocketing inflation, systemic high unemployment, anemic growth and a decimated middle class. We are on the verge of becoming the United States of Argentina.
Mr. Obama and the congressional Democrats have a grand liberal strategy. Their spending orgies - like the recent $1.1 trillion omnibus spending package - represent more than payoffs to key special-interest groups. The goal is to rack up unsustainable levels of debt and spending, thereby forcing permanent massive tax increases. Our creditors - especially the communist Chinese - will demand huge increases in income-tax rates, corporate taxes and the adoption of a European-style value-added tax (VAT) to finance our runaway deficits.
This is why Obama Democrats are determined to ram some kind - any kind - of health care overhaul through Congress. Opinion polls consistently show the majority of Americans rightly oppose Obamacare. It will lead to individual mandates, rationing, higher premiums, the gutting of Medicare and more than $400 billion in new taxes. More important, even without the so-called public option and Medicare buy-in scheme, it is a costly and burdensome entitlement program that empowers the federal government to dominate the health care sector. It is the last step before full-fledged nationalized medicine; it sounds the death knell for America's traditional free-market system. It is the final triumph of statism.
Obamanomics aims not only to expand the size and scope of government. It seeks to erect a Franco-German welfare state marked by crippling taxes, rigid anti-business regulations and a bloated public sector. The victim will be most Americans. Our standard of living, economic dynamism and individual liberties will be significantly eroded. This is not social justice. It is failure.
In Iraq, Mr. Obama's decision to precipitously withdraw most of our troops has been premature: We are snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Terrorist attacks have escalated dramatically over the past few months, sectarian violence is on the rise, and Iraq's leaders are pleading for U.S. forces to stay longer. Rather than being a stable democracy in the heart of the Arab world, Iraq threatens to become a failed state. Once again, Shi'ite extremists and al Qaeda militants are scorching the sands of Mesopotamia with the fires of Islamic jihadism.
Moreover, Mr. Obama's troop surge in Afghanistan will haunt his presidency and the United States. His decision to send an additional 30,000 troops without a clear strategy for victory repeats the tragic mistakes of Vietnam. It is a dangerous escalation of our military involvement, devoid of strategic purpose and political resolve.
The fundamental problem is Mr. Obama: He lacks the will to crush the resurgent Taliban. Instead, he is transforming the Afghan war into an international police operation. U.S. soldiers are to protect villagers from insurgents, help build roads and focus on economic development. They are impeded by severe rules of engagement, prohibited from inflicting civilian casualties - even as a result of collateral damage (which happens in every conflict). This is not statesmanship. Again, it is failure.
Mr. Obama is a multicultural radical leftist who is attempting to impose his own Cultural Revolution on America; he is promoting a destructive experiment in socialist social engineering. It has never worked before. And it won't work today under America's latest faltering presidency.
Jeffrey T. Kuhner is a columnist at The Washington Times and president of the Edmund Burke Institute, a Washington think tank. He is the daily radio host of the "Kuhner Show" on 570-AM WTNT from noon until 3 p.m.