For a country that is supposed to be the most powerful in the world, the fact that Americans have today woken up to find large swathes of their nation closed for business is humiliating.
Thanks to President Barack Obama obduracy over his flagship healthcare policy, Democrats and Republicans have failed to reach agreement in Congress on the federal budget, forcing the US Government to close down for the first time in 17 years, with around 700,000 federal workers being placed on indefinite leave.
While the White House insists that essential areas of the government, such as the military, will continue to function, the shut down represents yet a further blow to the prestige of the Obama administration at a time when it is still reeling from its inept handling of the recent Syrian crisis.
There was a time not so long ago when the world looked to America for both political and economic leadership. But now that can no longer be taken for granted thanks to Mr Obama’s inability to provide decisive leadership on either front.