James Buchanan's presidency was a catastrophe for America. He refused from the outset to face the slavery crisis, declaring in his inaugural address of 1857 that the barbarous institution was "of no practical importance."
Buchanan did nothing even after Abraham Lincoln's House Divided speech in 1858 warning that "a house divided against itself cannot stand." The secession crisis followed, then the Civil War.
Obama's Katrina on the border
Protecting the border is the first mark of national sovereignty and a president's most basic duty. With a swelling flood of Central American kids crossing the U.S. border from Mexico into Texas for the past year and more, President Obama seems capable only of talking.
He's going to Texas this week, to be sure, but to speak at four Democratic fundraisers. A last-minute talkathon with local officials will be as close to addressing the border crisis as Obama will get in the Lone Star State. He might as well be gazing down at the border crisis from Air Force One.
That means Obama's 2012 campaign vow that the border was secure is no longer true, if it ever was, because U.S. Border Patrol agents are overwhelmed and the flood continues. Obama requests $3.7 billion, mostly to care for those who have already crossed the border, not to prevent more from doing so.
Catastrophic failure number two
Intrinsically linked to the first, the second most fundamental obligation of the president is to protect the nation against attacks by America's enemies.
Whether it's Russia's Vladimir Putin thumbing his nose at Obama in the Ukraine, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei blowing up Obama's nuclear deal with Iran or the Chinese military's growing confidence they can defeat the U.S., America's enemies are everywhere on the move. And al Qaeda is stronger now than at any time since 9/11, even as Obama closes Gitmo and sends terrorists to civilian courts, as if they were burglars or muggers.
These things happen even as Obama shrinks U.S. military power as has not been seen since the end of World War II. Army divisions are being dismissed, critical aging weapons aren't being updated or replaced with more advanced versions, ships and aircraft are being retired and pay and benefits are being slashed.
Catastrophic failure number three
A vibrant, growing economy is as essential to American security as a muscular military. But nearly six years into Obama's recovery, the U.S. economy is stagnant, if not shrinking.
Millions of Americans who want to work have given up looking for jobs and recent college graduates face the worst employment prospects in generations. Having a job in 2014 too often means doing part-time work for low wages.
Perhaps worst of all, middle class Americans fear their children won't have it as good as they did. With a $17 trillion national debt that will have to be repaid sooner or later, they are all too likely to be right to be fearful.
And it's going to get worse for years to come, thanks to the explosion of federal intervention under Obama. Whole industries are under attack and small businesses -- the heart of U.S. job creation -- are staggering under the dead hand of regulation, especially with Obamacare.
So what's left?
Buchanan left office just before the catastrophe of the Civil War he did nothing to prevent fell upon the nation. The estimated 625,000 men killed in action made it the most costly conflict, per capita, in American history.
As with Buchanan, Obama will likely be out of office when the most serious consequences of his tenure are felt. Enemies like Iran's Ayatollahs, however, may opt to strike now while the U.S. has a leadership crisis.
More than two-thirds of Americans believe the country is on the wrong track. Without an abrupt reversal by Obama of the defining policies of his time as chief executive, the next big question is whether Obama will leave them with sufficient time and resources to get things back on the right track.
On today's washingtonexaminer.com
Columnists/Sean Higgins: Big Labor's big problems with the Supreme Court.
Columnists/Ron Arnold: A convicted felon designed EPA's playbook for using fake science.
Columnists/Noemie Emery: Hillary Clinton is past her time.
Columnists/Timothy P. Carney: Liberals go to the barricades to defend crony capitalism.
OpEds/Arthur Herman: Is it time to drain the Strategic Petroleum Reserve?
Beltway Confidential/Michael Barone: What shapes our political views, presidential performance or the personal impact of policies?
PennAve/Joseph Lawler: More good news about jobs, but there's a big catch.
Legal Newsline/Bryan Cohen: $320 million default judgement entered against TEEN USA.
In other news
Time Magazine: Israel hits key Hamas targets in Gaza offensive.
Newsweek: Terrorism's most ruthless face.
U.S. News & World Report: Gun control battle has moved beyond the politicians.
The Weekly Standard: Obamacare is an unfolding fiscal disaster.
The American Conservative: Koch Brothers, the real thing.
The American Spectator: One fewer good ole boy at the University of Texas.
The Federalist: Media ignorance is becoming a serious problem.
The Daily Beast: Inside Hezbollah's hash plantations.
New York/Daily Intelligencer: FBI and NSA spied on prominent Muslim-Americans, Snowden leak reveals.
Mother Jones: In Texas, we don't turn our backs on children.
Yid With Lid: Operation Protective Edge, while you were sleeping.
American Power: The threatening face of anti-Israel boycotters.
Talking Points Memo: Senate Dems to unveil bill reversing Hobby Lobby decision.
America Blog: Was it wrong for a pro-Obama article to use the n-word?
Hullabaloo: Republicans shocked by racial attacks, on each other.