'Twas a woman who led me down the road to drink. I never wrote to thank her.
The great wheel turns and another new year beckons, the sixth of Barack Hussein Obama's unlikely and increasingly unloved presidency. Three years of his second term remain, and if the thought of that doesn't sober you up I don't know what could.
There is still time, but not much, for President Obama to recover from the domestic and foreign disasters he has presided over. Most prominent of the former, of course, is the Affordable Health Care Act. He and his fellow Democrats in Congress gave birth to it without a single Republican vote. (So much for the new spirit of bipartisanship he promised in 2008.) The incomprehensible 2,000-page Frankenstein monstrosity brought to life with such fanfare (Vice President Joe Biden, on an open mike, famously called it a really "big f...ing deal") has since been amended no fewer than 15 times by executive order and bureaucratic edict.
This seriously unchallenged effrontery to congressional authority and the separation of powers enshrined in the Constitution is a blight on the reputation of both Houses of Congress, both political parties, and the president himself, an alleged scholar of constitutional law. Congress, not the executive branch, makes and amends the law. The president has a constitutional duty to "take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed," and what he has done in regard to the AHCA most likely is an impeachable offense. So cowardly have his political opponents become, both in and out of Congress, that they have chosen to ignore it. And for that, in time, they and all of us will surely reap the whirlwind.
Meanwhile, not since the isolationist years leading to World War II has American foreign policy seemed so feckless. The United States today is no longer feared by real or potential adversaries. It is a sad commentary, perhaps, on the world in which we live (and to some extent have always lived) that once a great power is no longer feared it is no longer respected either. All this cannot be laid at Obama's door. It dates from our shameful retreat from Vietnam after more than 10 years, the loss of 58,000 American lives, and the expenditure of many billions of dollars. Our even longer military interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan, interventions that began in the George W. Bush administration, have filled in the picture of America as helpless giant.
The Obama administration has done nothing to change this. On the contrary, it has added to it. The withdrawal of our military from Iraq (which, given the circumstances, I think justified) showed the world how futile "nation building" from without really is. Obama's stated objective, however, to keep thousands of American military "advisors" in Afghanistan after withdrawal of combat forces, is insanity. If he succeeds in leaving any young American servicemen and women there as advisors they inevitably will be hostage to the whim of whatever corrupt Afghan government succeeds the present one.
And then there is the matter of "red line diplomacy" as drawn in Syria and, more ominously, in Iran. How much credibility do you think this administration has left in Damascus, Tehran, and Tel Aviv?
About as much, I suppose, as it does here at home with an insurance industry that, despite having been complicit in getting the AHCA passed, now finds itself whipsawed by never ending changes in the "mandate," and only kept in line by promises of massive bailouts yet to come.
Oh, the headache! The stomachache! The heartache! Pass the Rolaids, please. And the Alka Seltzer, the aspirin, whatever's left in the medicine cabinet! Quick! I've never been so sick on New Year's day before.
Thank God for football.
R.L. Schreadley is a former Post and Courier executive editor.