Yes, our third year of Obama hope and change is beginning a lot like 1979 (I’ll skip the domestic parallels), as an unjust and imperfect world rejects the utopian visions of another liberal idealist, and sees magnanimity as weakness to be exploited rather than as kindness to be reciprocated.
The ongoing Iranian nuclear program, the impending fall of Mubarak, the sudden rashness of North Korea, the regional muscle-flexing of Russia and China, the worries of Japan and Western Europe, the emerging new Marxist, anti-American, and anti-democratic axis in Latin America, the implosion of Mexico — again, fairly or not, these will be interpreted as the wages of haughty American pontificating, coupled with impressions of stasis and indecision. That once again oil and food prices are skyrocketing, as the dollar weakens, deficits soar, and unemployment stays high, as in 1979, does not help to convey an image of American stability and power.
There is one consolation in that the progressive Western Europeans, the United Nations, and the Nobel Peace Prize Committee sometimes appreciate American indecision and self-confession. As a result, this time around our sermonizer-in-chief was given the Nobel Peace Prize without lobbying for it — and during, rather than after, his presidency.