- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 11, 2011

America’s economy is in free-fall. Growth is anemic. The stock market is collapsing. Real unemployment - combining the high jobless rate with rampant underemployment - is higher than 16 percent. Manufacturing is dead. Deficits, debt and government spending are at record levels. Our credit rating has been downgraded for the first time in history. The trade deficit has exploded to the highest in years.A possible Great Depression haunts the land. Primarily one man is to blame: President Obama.

Mr. Obama has racked up more than $4 trillion in debt. His massive spending stimulus has failed and made the jobless situation worse. Before his stimulus package was passed in February 2009, the unemployment rate stood at 7.8 percent. Today it is at 9.1 percent - and rising. Mr. Obama promised that his Keynesian borrow-and-spend policies would kick-start the economy. He has run up three consecutive trillion-dollar-plus budget deficits, an orgy of spending unrivaled in our history. The result: Nearly 2 million private-sector jobs have been wiped out, the U.S. dollar has eroded, investor and business confidence has been shattered, and America is no longer the world’s economic superpower. Washington has become a financial colony of China.

Under Mr. Obama, America’s decline has been swift, sudden and stunning - almost bewildering. Even many liberals are beginning to turn on him. The New York Times and liberal columnists such as Maureen Dowd and Eleanor Clift are attacking him relentlessly. The media establishment is in panic. The mainstream press portrayed him in 2008 as a world historical figure who combined Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi - a progressive messiah who would heal racial wounds at home and restore peace abroad. Some even compared him to God. Now many of these same journalists have come to a shocking conclusion: Mr. Obama is morphing into Jimmy Carter. They are staring at another failed liberal presidency.

Yet the damage is much worse than what happened under the Carter administration. For all of his deep flaws, Mr. Carter was a competent technocrat. His ideas were wrong and dangerously naive - especially regarding Soviet communism. But Mr. Carter had executive experience before entering the Oval Office. He had served as governor of Georgia. He presided over a major peace agreement between Egypt and Israel. Most importantly, Mr. Carter had respect for the dignity and integrity of the presidency. He never trashed his opponents the way Mr. Obama does. Mr. Carter had sympathy for Christian America. In short, he didn’t make Americans wonder if the president despised his country - at least while in office.

Mr. Obama, however, is a campus radical in the White House. He is inflicting severe, almost irreparable damage. His administration is so inept it can barely perform basic functions. Lifting the debt ceiling - something that was routine for presidents from Ronald Reagan to George W. Bush - was turned into a national nightmare, as Mr. Obama played a game of brinkmanship. In the end, the borrowing limit was raised, the reckless spending spree continues, and more unsustainable debt has been saddled upon future generations. The president’s demagoguery - his false warnings of a default, his threats to withhold Social Security checks, his inflammatory attacks on Tea Party Republicans - only served to unnerve global economic markets, fostering an atmosphere of immediate panic and crisis.

Mr. Obama repeatedly warned that unless the debt ceiling was raised to go beyond the 2012 election, the country’s credit rating would be jeopardized. He predicted that a downgrade would lead to fiscal Armageddon - high interest rates, austerity cuts, more unemployment and potential economic collapse. Yet a long-term debt deal was signed amid signs the nation’s Triple-A rating would be downgraded anyway. What was Mr. Obama’s response? He partied.

The president celebrated his 50th birthday by throwing a big bash at the White House. Trendy celebrities - Tom Hanks, Chris Rock, Stevie Wonder, Jay Z - showed up to eat, drink and be merry. Mr. Obama even danced barefooted while gorging on barbecued ribs and champagne. With the economy crumbling, financial markets melting and millions jobless, hurting and hungry, the president cared mostly about having a good time. He lectures the country by day while partying at night.

Mr. Obama is the most arrogant, self-absorbed and self-obsessed president in U.S. history. Nothing is ever his fault. He blames everyone and everything for America’s economic woes - Tea Partyers, Wall Street, Japanese earthquakes, insurance executives, oil companies, millionaires and corporate jet owners. He lashes out at imaginary enemies without ever taking personal responsibility. In his mind, he is - and always will be - the Anointed One.

There is only one solution: Drive him from office. Americans should forge a mass grassroots movement demanding that Mr. Obama step down - immediately. Through bumper stickers, picket signs, posters, T-shirts and rallies, tens of millions of citizens should express the same message: Leave. It is highly unlikely he will step aside, but such a movement would cripple the president’s authority and possibly blunt him from doing further harm. It also would puncture his boundless ego. A widespread manifestation of no confidence would break him - politically, morally and psychologically - in order to save America. Mr. Obama is out of his depth. He lacks the character, intelligence, skills and experience - the basic competence - to be the leader of the free world.

Resign, Mr. President.

Jeffrey T. Kuhner is a columnist at The Washington Times and president of the Edmund Burke Institute.