My master's degree in history has only been tangentially helpful in my making a living in the years since I earned it. Still, I regard it as a thing of great value. It provides a perspective sort of like a needle-reading graph printout, with which one can see peaks and valleys over various spans of time. One is thereby better equipped to determine which periods in the story of our species really constituted "unprecedented times."
Every age - actually every day - has its share of crises and harbingers of crises. Marvelous creatures that we are, however, we usually find some way to address them that staves off their worst possible outcomes. Once in a while, we miss. Witness the two world wars of the last century, or the Great Plague of 1665 in England.
I can truly say that we've never seen a confluence of factors quite like this. A president who is committed to a mad revolutionary utopianism, but is so riddled with narcissism and laziness that he can't even execute his ideological vision without botching it. A Congress divided between those who basically share his vision and those who oppose it albeit haltingly due to their incredulity at the sheer toxicity of what they're up against. A cultural infrastructure that likewise has signed on to that destructive vision.
In June 2012, that president's speeches have become exercises in disconnect, reaffirmations of his obstinate refusal to see the inherent failure of his vision. The rest of his behavior exudes disconnect as well: the near-constant fundraisers and celebrity parties, the golf outings, even as Fast and Furious threatens to get his Attorney General cited for contempt of Congress, even as the national-security leaks condemn the country to a vulnerability of apocalyptic proportions, even in the wake of multiple bankruptcies of "green" "companies" subsidized by borrowed government money in pursuit of a fantasy posing as science, even as the signature FHer-care monstrosity remains vehemently hated by most Americans and is likely to have its core provision found unconstitutional, even as illegal aliens are given an open invitation to take American jobs at a time when unemployment has been north of 8 percent for 40 months.
What this singularly dangerous figure has done is increase the likelihood on every side that something disastrous will occur. An increased likelihood in any one arena of our national life would be alarming enough.
Pondering our odds of squeaking through without one of the myriad manifestations of precariousness with which he has saddled us doing us in is obviously a grim exercise. Nonetheless, the alternative is to be caught unawares when the moment of reckoning arrives.