An American compound in Libya is invaded by al Qaeda terrorists and an American ambassador is purportedly tortured before being killed. Muslim mobs attack American embassies in 27 countries chanting,"Death to America." The White House response? A statement blaming the outrages on a filmmaker in the United States, along with apologies to the Muslim world.
The American economy languishes with millions unemployed in the worst times since the Great Depression. Yet the president spends his first years in the White House focusing on a plan to create a trillion-dollar socialized health care system opposed by a majority of Americans. Then he campaigns for re-election on a platform blaming rich Americans for the economic woes.
What's going on here?
The answer lies in a famous statement the president made on the eve of his election, when he told a crowd of cheering supporters: "We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America." These are not the words of a traditional, pragmatic-minded American politician. A practical politician attempts to address problems and fix them, not to fundamentally transform an entire nation. Transforming nations is what radicals aspire to do. But Mr. Obama's actions in the past four years -- beginning with putting Obamacare in front of the economic crisis -- are nothing if not radical.
Radicals are sometimes referred to as "liberals in a hurry." They share goals but not means. Both Mr. Obama and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, expressed early sympathy for the Occupy Wall Street movement, whose rage at the American social order quickly turned violent and destructive.
But while Mr. Obama and Mrs. Pelosi may pursue their agendas through the traditional process of democratic government, ends still determine means. The radical nature of the goals they pursue does have consequences, the first of which is to divide the nation in an hour when they should have been uniting it.
In a national crisis such as America faced in 2009 when 800,000 of us were losing our jobs every month, traditional leaders would have regarded their first task as one of rallying the country on a common agenda and bringing Americans together. Instead, Mr. Obama and Mrs. Pelosi put their radical agenda first -- passing a massive health care bill, the most transformative legislation in American history, and passing it over the opposition not only of Republicans but even of Democratic voters in Massachusetts, who elected Republican Scott Brown to cast a vote against it.
Far from pursuing national unity to solve the crisis, Mr. Obama put his goal of transformation in front of everything. In order to achieve the change he wanted, he shut out the congressional Republicans in drafting his revolutionary legislation, and then disregarded the majority of Americans when they rejected his plan, defeating Democrats in special elections in New Jersey and Virginia -- states that he had won. His radical goals caused Mr. Obama to squander his political capital on a divisive campaign in the first two years of his administration that has changed and embittered the political landscape, and that has persisted for four years and could continue.
Of the Obama election effort dominated by themes of class envy and conflict, a longtime liberal and Democrat, Mortimer Zuckerman, the publisher of U.S. News & World Report, has said: "It is a dishonest, divisive campaign. It's discouraging of enterprise. It does the opposite of uniting the country to deal with the current economic crisis."
Abroad, the story is depressingly similar. The president launched his radical foreign policy initiatives with a speech in June 2009. Speaking in Cairo, now aflame with anti-American protests, he offered the Muslim world "a new beginning." By this, he meant not a Muslim new beginning but an American change of heart, as though it were our policies that led to the Islamic attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and the ravages of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. As an anti-war president, Mr. Obama has surrendered Iraq, in whose cause so many young Americans died, to America's enemy, Iran. This was another gesture of American retreat designed to ingratiate us with those who hate us.
What have these three years of reversing America's traditional policies wrought? Charles Krauthammer summarized it in a recent column: "The Islamic world is convulsed with an explosion of anti-Americanism. From Tunisia to Lebanon, American schools, businesses and diplomatic facilities set ablaze. A U.S. ambassador and three others murdered in Benghazi. The black flag of Salafism, of which al Qaeda is a prominent element, raised over our embassies in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and Sudan." According to public opinion polls, America's appeasement of Islamic rage has led to a situation in which America is more hated today in the Muslim world than it was at the height of the war in Iraq.
Like all other radical ideas, Mr. Obama's foreign policy schemes were based on wishful thinking rather than a realistic appraisal of what the country faces and what its real enemies intend. That is why his policies have failed and a weaker America faces a more dangerous world.
America is a nation that was created by conservatives who designed for it a system of checks and balances to frustrate radical schemes. In his four years as president, Mr. Obama has attempted to circumvent the Founding Fathers' prudent plans. Now he is asking for a second opportunity. Hopefully, American voters will deny him that opportunity in November and put a check on those radical schemes.
David Horowitz is author most recently of "Radicals: Portraits of a Destructive Passion" (Regnery, 2012).