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The Obama Downgrade, Alphabetically
By BRET STEPHENS
Snapshots from President Obama’s efforts to improve America’s standing in the world, 923 days into his administration:
A is for the Arab world, and our standing in it: This year, Zogby International found that 5% of Egyptians had a favorable view of the U.S. In 2008, when George W. Bush was president, it was 9%.
B is for the federal budget deficit, which is estimated to come in at around 11% of GDP in 2011, up from about 3% in 2008.
C is for China’s military budget. For 2012, Beijing plans to increase spending on defense by 12.7%. The Obama administration, by contrast, proposed Pentagon cuts in April averaging out to $40 billion per year over the next decade, and Congress may soon cut a lot more.
D is for—what else—the federal debt, which grew to $14.3 trillion this month from $10.7 trillion at the end of 2008. D is also for the dollar, which has lost almost half its value against gold since Aug. 2008.
E is for energy. The average retail price of a gallon of gas hovered near the $1.80 mark when Mr. Obama was inaugurated. It has since more than doubled. E is also for ethanol, the non-wonder fuel the U.S. continues to subsidize to the tune of $5 billion a year.
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F is for free trade. Bill Clinton signed Nafta in 1994, which facilitates $1.6 trillion in the trade of goods and services between the U.S., Mexico and Canada. George W. Bush midwifed more than a dozen FTAs, from Australia to Singapore to Morocco to Bahrain. Number of FTA’s signed by the current president: zero.
G is for Guantanamo, which remains open, and for Gadhafi, who remains in power, and for Greece, which offers a vision of America’s future if we don’t reform our entitlement state.
H is for Hillary Clinton, who—I can’t believe I’m writing this—would have made a better president than Mr. Obama.
I is for Israel, a Middle Eastern country the president claims to support even as he routinely disses its prime minister, seeks to shrink its borders and—why not?—divide its capital.
J is for jobs. In November 2008, president-elect Obama promised he would create 2.5 million jobs by 2011. By October 2010 the economy had shed 3.3 million jobs.
K is for Karzai, Hamid, Afghanistan’s feckless leader. Still, the Obama administration probably did itself no favors by publicly dumping on the man, leading him to seek new best friends in Tehran.
L is for Laden, Osama bin. The president’s greatest triumph, which will forever put him one notch—if only one notch—above Jimmy Carter.
M is for Mexico, a country that manages 5.4% unemployment and 4.2% annual growth even as it fights a war against the drug cartels.
N is for NATO, once a pillar of Western security, which Mr. Obama is in the process of destroying through his decision to withdraw from Afghanistan and his refusal to give NATO the push it needs to win in Libya.
O is for ObamaCare, which goes far to explain B, D, J as well as the Greek part of G.
P is for Pyongyang, whose ruler the administration is once again attempting to engage in the six-party talks. This is after the Kim regime welcomed Mr. Obama’s plea for a nuclear-free world by testing a nuclear bomb, torpedoing a South Korean ship, shelling a South Korean village, and unveiling a state-of-the-art uranium enrichment facility.
Q is for QE2, the most disastrous experiment in monetary policy since Fed Chairman William Miller’s low-interest rate policy crashed the dollar in 1978.
R is for the reset with Russia, the principal result of which is an arms-control treaty that brings us to parity in strategic nuclear weapons, leaves us behind in the tactical category, and ill-equips us for the challenge of a proliferating world.
S is for shovel-ready. Enough said.
T is for taxes, which Mr. Obama would like to see raised for “millionaires and billionaires”—curiously defined as people making $200K and up.
U is for Iran’s uranium enrichment. When Mr. Obama came to office promising to extend his hand to the mullahs, Iran had enriched 1,000 kilos of uranium. Today they have produced more than 4,000 kilos.
V is for Venezuela, a country whose extensive subterranean links to Iran the administration has consistently downplayed.