Among historians and political scientists, there are long-running debates on presidential greatness, how to define it, and how it is achieved. One thing is for certain: the measure of a president is defined by the greatness of the events and challenges that he faces while in office. Some presidents rise to these challenges and enter the pantheon of greatness. Other presidents choose the wrong path or lack the vision to recognize the moment and are relegated to historical mediocrity or worse.
It would be easy to define the great challenge of Barack Obama's presidency as restoring America's economy, but that is too simplistic a view. The great challenge of the Obama presidency is staving off American decline.
The post-Cold War world entered a period of American predominance as the sole superpower, but things have changed since then. The rise of Russia and China and their attempts to expand their economic and political spheres of influence threaten America's global leadership role. The Arab Spring sweeping the Middle East is leading to a resurgent Islamic supremacist movement that is virulently anti-American in its values and worldview.
What the nation currently faces is a world that views us both economically and in international relations as a weak and declining power, like the last days of the western Roman Empire. If America fails to turn around its economic situation and its dominance in international relations, a power vacuum will be created which nations such as Russia and China will swoop in to fill. Emboldened Islamists will put huge swaths of the globe under the oppression of sharia law.
This year's presidential election marks a precipice on which the future of the world depends. On one side sits a future with America preeminent, protecting the delicate flame of liberty and justice. On the other side sits an America whose greatness is but a distant memory, where we are passive observers as the slow tide of oppression subjugates the globe.
Do we trust President Obama to be the man to meet this moment in our history?
According to James Cannon, "[t]he [ancient] Greeks believed that character was formed in part by fate and in part by parental training, and that character was exemplified not only by acts of bravery in battle but in the habits of daily conduct."
The habits of President Barack Obama's daily conduct paint a long and disturbing picture of the character of the man. Clint Eastwood was right: at every step of the way, when Barack Obama's leadership has been needed, he has been absent.
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