I saw the above question in the comments section of a post at Althouse, and I believe the answer is “yes.”
But the reason I say this may surprise you. It’s not any one action or decision, or even several. It’s not even whether health care reform, if passed, can be reversed. It’s not the terrible precedent set by using reconciliation for a bill that is unpopular, not a budget or deficit measure, and has no bipartisan support. It’s not even Obama’s foreign policy, that insults our allies and emboldens dictators and fails to scare Iran in the least, although all of the above matter very much and they are all very bad.
I think the worst damage Obama has done is that, until now, America has always been a solid and somewhat predictable commodity, both domestically and internationally. There have been many fluctuations, of course. Presidents came and presidents went. Some were Republicans and some Democrats, some conservative and some liberal. But there remained a certain commonality and dependability that Americans and the rest of the world—our allies and our enemies—could depend on.
Allies would remain allies, and when the chips were down we would defend them. Enemies would remain enemies, even if we sometimes got closer to them and sometimes backed away from contact. We would get into debt, but not too much. Our economy was solid. And so on and so forth. But Obama has become a loose cannon, and American is suddenly not the rock it used to be. And I wonder if we ever again will be regarded in the same way.