Perception, And America
As someone who holds both Canadian and American Citizenship by birth, and the fact that I have lived and worked in both countries...I can say that there is a major skew between Americans and how they perceive themselves, and how others do.
I lived in the US during both Reagan's time in office, and Bush Jr., and The times are very different. Back during the Reagan years, Democrats and Republicans both saw themselves as part of the American culture, and that they differed on many things, but at the end of the day, they were all Americans. Today, the Republican party has taken an "Us vs Them" attitude, and has had great electorial success by vilifying the Democrats. The Democrats don't know how to answer this, since the best response would be to vilify the Republicans...but it's against the Democratic nature. So the USA has drifted to the Right.
From the Canadian point of view, we see an America that has gone kinda nuts. They attack each other, when they have much bigger fish to fry. Canadians see the Left in the US as being very Right Wing, and as much as we hate it, the US always has a big influence on Canadian Culture. And we see this with the rise of Harper, and his use of the same type of tactics that the Republican party has used so successfully. Harper and company have managed to take an accounting scandal and turn it into a tool bludgeon the Liberal Party. Unfortunately, for Harper, eventually, simply being an alternative to the Liberal Party will wear off, and the ultimate benefactors of this will be the New Democratic party.
Ultimately, many Canadians no long feel comfortable with the US government...and many Americans feel the same way. The Bush Jr. has managed to damage the perception of the US around the world. He has taken a situation where he, either through deception or incompetence, has put the US and a number of it's allies into the situation where they are attempting to prosecute an undeclared war in a country that didn't have the nuclear weapons that Bush Jr.'s government claimed they had. And for *that* they should be criticized. For using a base outside of the US to try to get around their Constitution, they should be criticized. And both Americans, and the other citizens of the world should be holding the US, and Bush Jr to blame for these, because ultimately it was the people of the US who elected Bush Jr. and a majority in the both Houses. But don't blame me...I didn't vote for Bush Jr. Not that Kerry was significantly better, but at least he has combat experience, and thus would have had a clue about how to clear up the problem in Iraq.