Happy 520-point Dow Jones Industrial Index Plunge Day, everybody! (No, this is not a repeat from Friday or Monday, but it is the opposite of Tuesday.) How might perceptions of the United States change now that the United States is a morally/financially bankrupt land of angry slobs who just had their Hoverounds repo’d by John Boehner? Reuters has the surprising (obvious) answer:

The narrow U.S. escape from default and its credit downgrade have added to a perception that the United States is in decline, a view that could weaken Washington’s influence abroad.

While such assessments are partly subjective, the spectacle of Washington waiting until the last moment last week to raise the debt ceiling and of Standard & Poors’ then taking away its coveted AAA credit rating have buttressed the case of those who argue that U.S. power, in relative terms, is declining.

Other, more apologetic experts argue that while the USA has indeed fallen as all empires fall, “compared to what?” is also a good question, as the U.K. burns and Europe goes bankrupt and Japan is in its second or third decade of economic collapse and decline. But then the other experts say, “Compared to China, obviously. We are talking about superpowers, not other failed societies.” [Reuters]

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  • Barb

    "a view that could weaken Washington’s influence abroad."
    Cool, we are weak. Can we quit a couple of these wars and go home and think about where we went wrong.

  • SorosBot

    Now if we could only give up our empire quietly and peacefully instead of taking the rest of the world with us.

    • Lionel[redacted]Esq

      Come on. Half the fun of being a declining empire is taking everyone else down with you.

    • BlueStateLibel

      That would like asking a spoiled rotten child to give up their toys "quietly and peacefully." No the toys will be hurled across the room and broken into a thousand pieces first. Or think of it as when the family bully finds himself broke playing Monopoly. Does he quietly admit defeat and peacefully put the game away? No, he flings all the pieces across the living room, and the prized Dog playing piece is never found again.

    • PristinePantalones

      Oh, that'll happen. Not.

    • DashboardBuddha

      What good is having an empire unless you can slam the door behind you loudly enough to echo for a thousand years?

  • bumfug

    In other news, waning erections add to view of increasing impotence.

  • hagajim

    If our influence abroad is weakening then maybe we can stop spending every fucking dollar we ever made/earned/created to feed our MacDonald's SuperfuckingSized military – so maybe we can weaken gracefully instead of falling off a fourhundren foot cliff without any fall protecting. Oh – right – I forgot we banned OSHA because that was too much gubmint interference…..fuck fuck fuck!

    • widestanceroman

      Our influence may be waning, but our efforts are like real estate–always going go up, up, up with never a hitch of any kind. . .

    • SorosBot

      No, we need a military as big as the rest of the world combined, so as to protect ourselves from the threat of a small, scattered, incompetent terrorist group whose leader we've already killed because they would like to hurt us and did get lucky that one time. And all those other threats to America's security, like um…

  • iburl

    Don't worry Herman Cain has all the answers for us. (clue: pizza coupons)

  • north_of_moscow

    We will wax a lot of ass before we wane all the way.

  • mavenmaven

    To enhance our strength, the obvious answer is to invade more countries and offer the conquered country's rich people tax cuts.

    • Spreading trickle-down economy. So crazy it just might work.

      • GeorgiaBurning

        Trickle down poverty does work, most dirt poor countries have a few insanely rich people who pay nothing in taxes.

  • the spectacle of Washington waiting until the last moment last week to raise the debt ceiling and of Standard & Poors’ then taking away its coveted AAA credit rating have buttressed the case

    Media Spin: 1
    Modest Dose of Reality: 0

  • Holy shit.

    "It has some short-term effect," he said. "The longer term will depend more on fundamentals, whether the economy does go into some sort of nose-dive or not,"

    That's from James Dobbins, a former American diplomat now at the Rand Corporation, in the upbeat part of the story.

  • Lascauxcaveman

    I take the long view on this. All empires, having risen, eventually fall. Take Great Britain; total badasses for several hundred years then all their European wars and failed colonies finally take them down a notch or two. As their influence wanes, they spend more time taking care of their own and end up with a nifty package of social safety nets and basically no-cost healthcare.

    Sure, they're not kicking ass anymore, they're especially proud these days, but it's not like they have rioting in the streets or anything.

  • We'll go out like the broke drunk booted from a dive bar, doing our best to trash the place while the bouncer pushes us out, slurring curses and daring anyone to come outside and try and kick our ass.

    Also the bouncer will be Chinese.

    • KenLayIsAlive, you sound like a guy who knows how to have fun. Let's hit a few bars on Friday night.

      • Haha, that's young KenLayIsAlive who goes out of bars like that. It wasn't much of an empire anyway. Hell, I was lucky to get the Ukraine out of my life.

        Sounds good though. We all need some Wonkette in real life.

    • Barrelhse

      "I been thrown outta better places than this!"

    • horsedreamer_1

      Today, we are all Barney Gumbel.

  • I dunno… wasting the US America military machine on a pointless war in Iraqinam. The ruining of the finances by Idiots posing as Fizkal Konservatives who don't want taxes on the eelights because they think they could be eelights only if they won the lottery. The eelights who want all the trappings of empire but not pay for it.

    It seems empires don't end with a bang, but a rather loud "Duh."

  • Welcome to the United States of Amerikkka, 2011. For reference see the Ottoman Empire, 1911.

    • Rome 350AD.
      Britain 1920-49.
      China 1200
      Athens 400BC
      Spain 1600
      USSR 1980
      etc, etc

      • Only Rick Perry is close enough to the man upstairs to pray us out of this one.

        • spinozasgod

          he's too busy praying the gay away.

          • PristinePantalones

            And look how well that's going, with his HUGE opening, and all.

        • AJWjr.

          The higher the hair, the closer to god.
          It's a southern thing.

      • SorosBot

        Mordor 3019 TA.

    • GOPCrusher

      The United States of America, The sick old man of North America

  • This is why I say we should let climate change run – help it along, even. A few degrees warmer and Canadia loses its entire downside.

    • Plus the lower 48 becomes ocean front property. Of course the near constant raging storms and dramatic temperature fluctuations might make in inhospitable but you never know until you try.

      • spinozasgod

        hey didn't you donate to Cobert super PAC, along with your mother mucha maquchi?

        • PristinePantalones

          That's "Muncha," fella.


        An ocean view is Oklahoma is fine, as long as Texas is under water.

  • nounverb911

    And John Boner is still only 98% happy.

    • Hold on a minute…so conservative power is rising…US is doing worse…more upper class tax cuts for the wealthy…no job creation. Ugh, it's so hard to do that thing I used to do with my brain. Is the answer less regulation?

  • Radiotherapy┬«

    11Aircraft Carrier Task Forces, 100 or so nuclear subs and a trillion dollars a year doesn't project power? Well then, the rest of the world is just blind, or, way smarter than we think.

  • TX_Bluebonnets

    So THIS is what it felt like in Tuscany, in the late 300s–early 400s, with the barbarians at the gates and weeds growing in Hadrian's wall.

    Plague, anyone?

    • PristinePantalones

      It can be arranged.

    • DashboardBuddha

      Ha! The Plague is no match for The Best Health Care System In The World ™

  • poncho_pilot

    lol. i think i'm being stalked by an old wingnut on facebook. good times!

  • TX_Bluebonnets

    Still open for debate, though, is whether we are going to enter a new Dark Age or just a new Chinese Age.

    I wouldn't completely rule the Indians out, though. It may have been downhill since the Guptas, but they've been on a real roll since Gandhi.

    • LetUsBray

      I would much rather have Indian than Chinese overlords, given the choice. Which I rather doubt we will be.

    • PristinePantalones

      Oy, someone who knows from the Guptas.

  • Come here a minute

    Maybe it will be a long, slow decline before the fall. That wouldn't be so bad.

    • littlebigdaddy

      Especially if we get bread and circus, and orgies. Lots of orgies.

    • PristinePantalones

      Not at the rate the teabaggage are rushing to turn us into Kochmeat.

  • Obviously we need to nuke someone to show everyone who's still boss.

    • Let's pretend to get all offended by something Guinea-Bissau said, then sucker-punch them with some primo shock and awe. Afterward, we'll stagger into the bathroom and puke up another credit rating downgrade while nobody's looking.

  • mourningnmerica

    In other news, a scientific study has determined that bears have been found to defecate in the forest.

    • Come here a minute

      . . . and the Pope's religion has been almost conclusively established as Catholic.

    • SmutBoffin

      Arboreal bear defecation is only a theory, you know. There are other competing viewpoints, such as the theory that bear shit is exclusively deposited inside of the heads of Tea Partiers.

  • x111e7thst

    I think that the decline of Rome was more fun than this; what with panem et circenses and all the orgies. Health care was probably no worse than what we have now and Christians were actually being persecuted instead of just talking about it endlessly.

  • Ken Cuccinelli

    China's got problems domestically and economically. What are they known for? Mostly for copying our technology, and making it shittier, but cheaper. Sure, every once in a while you hear a story on the NPR about the imminent rise of Chinese innovation, and I think they know that they can only ride this boom for so long…but alas, there's been precious little game changing stuff to come out of there. Mostly it's been iPads shined with the tears of families of dead Chinese workers.

    Everyone's afraid of China. Everyone was afraid of Japan in the 1980s. But every once in a while you hear about the economic and social problems they have waiting in the wings, that are truly threatening to derail this gravy train.

    Just because we have problems of our own really doesn't mean China's gonna be able to steal our thunder before their economy gets out of control and their facade of social order finally breaks down.

    But what is this nuanced thinking here? I'm sorry, WAH WAH DOW DOWN.

    • doloras

      Your argument is logical, but I'm not sure "China's not going to be able to take over as World Overlord from us" is something that makes most people here feel better. Imagine what the next 100 years will be like if there are NO superpowers. It's 1914 again and they started without us.

      • Ken Cuccinelli

        There's no real reason we can't continue to be a superpower, and heck, if this new age of reduced spending ends up meaning that we can't launch wars like we spent the last 10 years doing, I don't think anyone's really gonna cry over that. Not that Congress wants that, but I really think at this point they have no fucking choice.

        Nothing's set in stone, yet. I guess the part of my argument I sort of left off was that I think there is something about America, culturally speaking, that should, that can, give us a leg up on everyone else. For all the hackneyed bullshit you hear about "innovation" (usually from people who don't do much of it), I think that when we produce scientists and engineers, they are better than some of their other counterparts. People forget that even now, the "hard" problems are still often solved here.

  • SayItWithWookies

    The decline's not so bad — it's the fall afterward that really hurts.

  • Lionel[redacted]Esq

    Well, think of it this way, if the Indians keep doing well with their Casinos, we can sell the country back to them and possibly turn a small profit.

    • Callyson

      Now that you mention it, the casinos look less risky than still-not-sufficiently-regulated Wall Street. Time for some blackjack!

  • MissusBarry

    I imagine that the only people surprised by economic brinkmanship played domestically having deleterious results in the national and global economy as well as presenting an image of instability that ineluctably extends to military and "moral" standing in the international community are…*drum roll*…the teatard idiots that created the situation in the first place. Stupid fucks.

    • PristinePantalones

      It's nice to see someone slay them with sesquipedalia.

      • MissusBarry

        Subconscious knowledge of my audience, I suppose…this is the wonker, after all.

  • proudgrampa

    "as the U.K. burns and Europe goes bankrupt and Japan is in its second or third decade of economic collapse and decline"

    Well, these others are YEARS ahead of us: we're just catching up.

  • Callyson

    State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland rejected the idea that the S&P downgrade had any meaningful effect on U.S. foreign policy or reflected an America in decline.
    "The United States is still the country that the world looks to for global leadership," she said.
    "When a fragile democracy needs support, who do they call? "They call the United States, and the United States tries to pull together an international coalition of support. When there's a famine in Africa, who is the largest donor? It's still the United States."
    Great–tout le monde is officially fucked…

  • Every nation that has lost super power status has gained an equal measure of sanity .. I don't know if we can wait that long though

    • Actually I retract this statement. We are going down the shitter. Hard and fast.

  • Tundra Grifter

    We'll know for sure the good times are over when Mexico builds a fence to keep out the gringoes.

  • Tundra Grifter

    "All cities, all states, all reigns are mortal…And so a citizen who is living in the final stage of his country's existence should not feel as sorry for his country as he should for himself. What happened to his country was inevitable; but to be born at a time when such a disaster had to happen was his misfortune." – Guicciardini

  • I'm old enough to remember when Reagan seemed to signal the end.
    Now, those seem like "the good ol' days."

    Wake me up when it's over.

  • MinAgain

    I am reminded of Taylor Caldwell's tongue in cheek disclaimer at the beginning of "Dear and Glorious Physician"…

    Any resemblance between ancient Rome and the United States is purely historical and not coincidental.

    • glamourdammerung

      Rome at least maintained its infrastructure until the end.

  • ttommyunger

    Just learned that our depressed real estate market is attracting purchasers from Brazil. Realtors in Miami are raking in the commissions from overseas clients who can't find such bargain basement prices for homes and condos in their native lands…I personally welcome our new Portuguese speaking overlords; I heard it is easier than Mandarin.

    • plus, they have mardi gras

    • PubOption

      Most of Miami speaks Spanish, just add a fake Polish accent and you have reasonable Portuguese.

      • ttommyunger

        I learn something every day!

    • AJWjr.

      Mmmmm, Brazilians…

  • Oblios_Cap

    Only 200 or so years. We are hardly Exceptional now, are we?

    • DashboardBuddha

      Seriously…There are bars in London that are many times older than the US.

  • BZ1

    glad to see Wall Street is pitching in, a wild-eyed, hysterical way…

  • DaRooster

    "…a view that could weaken Washington’s influence abroad."

    Wow. All of a sudden other countries don't think we're as strong and great as we think we are? Hmmm?

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