The United States of Decline
America unravels at an increasingly dizzying pace.
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Nearby, embattled Syrians flee the city of Homs while they and their United Nations protectors dodge incoming mortar shells. This sorry spectacle has exposed Obama’s Syrian policy as a miserable flop. So does the fact that Syrian president Bashar Assad has handed over only 4 percent of the chemical weapons that his deal last September with Obama and Vladimir Putin was supposed to neutralize. According to GOP senators John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Secretary of State John Kerry privately conceded to them that Obama’s approach in Syria has failed.

America liberated Afghanistan from a regime that hosted al-Qaeda, banned kites and recorded music, and built a bridge to the seventh century. And what thanks does the U.S. get? Over American objections, Afghan president Hamid Karzai last week released 65 Taliban warriors from Bagram prison, where they were being held on suspicion of killing American troops, murdering Afghan civilians, deploying roadside bombs, and otherwise perpetrating mayhem. When U.S. officials complained that these killers could return to the fight — as have other Taliban thugs, once freed — Karzai exploded: “If the Afghan judicial authorities decide to release a prisoner, it is of no concern to the U.S. I hope that the U.S. will stop harassing Afghanistan’s procedures and judicial authority, and I hope the U.S. will now begin to respect Afghan sovereignty.”

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For these and many other reasons, Democrats are fleeing Obama.

“I don’t care to have him campaign for me,” said Senator Mark Begich (D., Alaska).

A reelection ad for Representative Joe Garcia (D., Fla.) boasts that “he voted to let you keep your existing health plan, and he took the White House to task for the disastrous healthcare website.”

“He [Obama] is hurting the Democratic brand right now,” veteran Democratic campaign strategist Joe Trippi told Fox News Channel’s Megyn Kelly on February 12. “The Obamacare snafus, his approval rating is declining, and his credibility problems all drag the Democratic brand down.”

Rather than resist an increasingly weak — yet ever more assertive — Obama, GOP congressional leaders hand him whatever he wants. Thus, House speaker John Boehner and Senate GOP chief Mitch McConnell of Kentucky pushed through a $1.012 trillion budget with, at best, minuscule and illusory spending cuts. A $956 billion farm bill includes $3 million to promote Christmas trees (who on Earth would buy them without federal assistance?), $100 million for maple-syrup market research, and $170 million for catfish protectionism. Boehner and McConnell sent Obama this gift-wrapped monstrosity, which was $56 billion higher than Obamacare’s original price tag. And in exchange, Obama gave them . . . zippo!

On February 12, Boehner and McConnell helped send Obama a measure to suspend the debt limit until March 15, 2015. (The debt ceiling was not raised from $17.2 trillion to a higher level; it simply was removed. The gas pedal remains in Obama’s Little Red Cor-debt, but the brakes are gone.) This passed the GOP House with Boehner and only 27 Republicans voting yes. The other 194 votes were from Democrats. When McConnell surrendered on cloture, 11 other Republican senators helped Democrats advance their dirty work. The debt ceiling is now a debt sunroof.

And what did Washington’s top two Republicans get for giving Obama 13 months to shop till America drops? Nothing! No repeal of Obamacare’s $47 billion bailout of health insurers. No approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline. No termination of the cure-killing medical-device tax. No votes on these matters, which would have forced Democrats to choose. This could have helped Republican candidates in November.

Steely resolve could stymie the unpopular and untrustworthy Obama. Sadly, Boehner, McConnell, and other GOP leaders are as firm as foil.

Happy Valentine’s Day! The Senate Conservatives Fund has broken up with House Speaker John Boehner.

“Republicans are giving up because they know that winning is impossible when their leaders are determined to lose,” the Senate Conservatives Fund stated. “These leaders have telegraphed weakness to the Democrats and sabotaged conservative efforts so many times that Republicans now have no leverage.” The group concluded: “John Boehner must be replaced as Speaker of the House. . . . Unless we install a new leader who will actually go on offense, Democrats will never fear us and we will never have any leverage.”

Also, Earth’s sole superpower is sagging where it should be No. 1. America has slouched to No. 12 on the 2014 Heritage Foundation/Wall Street Journal Index of Economic Freedom.

“Now considered only a ‘mostly free’ economy, the U.S. has earned the dubious distinction of having recorded one of the longest sustained declines in economic freedom, second only to Argentina, of any country in the [20-year] history of the Index,” the report states. “The U.S. is the only country to have recorded a loss of economic freedom each of the past seven years.”

Regarding graft, America has stayed stable in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index. Unfortunately, and as recently as 2013, the U.S. has remained Earth’s 19th most honest country.

Thanks, in part, to Team Obama’s surveillance of journalists from Fox News Channel and the Associated Press, America tumbled 13 spots down Reporters Without Borders’ 2014 World Press Freedom Index. The U.S. dropped this year from No. 33 to No. 46. Hence, 45 nations now have freer journalists than does America. RWB calls America “satisfactory” rather than the top-rated “good.” As the report states: “Amid an all-out hunt for leaks and sources, 2013 will also be the year of the Associated Press scandal, which came to light when the Department of Justice acknowledged that it had seized the news agency’s phone records.”

America is a total mess.

The Land of the Free is governed by an out-of-control egomaniac, neither bolstered by managerial competence nor hindered by the legislature’s institutional prerogatives. In the Home of the Brave, half of Congress cheers Obama’s unconstitutional behavior, while the other half grumbles and then meekly carpet-bombs his path with white flags.

The American people have been betrayed — both by Obama and the Democrats, whose lust for control intensifies daily, and by Republican leaders in Washington, whose cowardice and defeatism have turned their guts and spines into tapioca.

America, as Paul Simon sings, is slip-slidin’ away. And the worst part hasn’t happened yet.

— Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News contributor and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University.