To paraphrase the great polemicist Thomas Paine, these are times that try the souls of optimists. The country is shuffling through a very weak recovery, and public opinion remains distinctly negative, with nearly half of Americans saying China has already leapfrogged us and nearly 60 percent convinced the country is headed in the wrong direction. Belief in the political leadership of both parties stands at record lows, not surprisingly, since we are experiencing what may be remembered as the worst period of presidential leadership, under both parties, since the pre-Civil War days of Franklin Pierce and James Buchanan.Nevertheless, Kotkin assures us, there's reason for optimism and he proceeds to elaborate upon those reasons in the rest of his essay. Not only is the future of the United States looking rosy but the future of our competitors around the world is, by comparison, looking bleak.
Yet, despite the many challenges facing the United States, this country remains, by far, the best-favored part of the world, and is likely to become more so in the decade ahead. The reasons lie in the fundamentals: natural resources, technological excellence, a budding manufacturing recovery and, most important, healthier demographics. The rest of the world is not likely to cheer us on, since they now have a generally lower opinion of us than in 2009; apparently the "bounce" we got from electing our articulate, handsome, biracial Nobel laureate president is clearly, as Pew suggests, "a thing of the past."
He concludes with a couple of parting shots at Mr. Bush and Mr. Obama:
So, if things are so good, why do they seem so bad? Sixteen years of lackluster leadership has not helped – a succession of two spendthrift presidents, one a too-happy warrior with a weak sense of the limits of even an imperial power, and the other, a posturing and arrogant academic oddly disconnected from the fundamental grass-roots drive that moves his country's economy. Yet I prefer to see it in a more positive light: If we can do better than our major competitors under such leadership, how great a country is this?Read his analysis of the advantages the U.S. enjoys vis a vis Europe and Asia at the link.