Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

McDonald's is burgers. McDonald's is breakfast. McDonald's is America.

Yet currently, the burger chain appears to have a batting average that sounds like one of its special offers: one-for-three.

In announcing its second-quarter numbers, which didn't inspire a lot of lovin' it, McDonald's confessed that Breakfast and America aren't going well.

Breakfast is 25 percent of the chain's business and America is, well, the heartland.

Yes, while profits in France and the (Dis)United Kingdom rose, America began to say non, merci in a certain drawl.

"Can tariffs alter this bizarre international imbalance?", I hear several of you mutter. We can't be outstripped in Big Mac performance by a bunch of, oh, Europeans.

Individual U.S. customers are spending a little more -- well, that new fresh beef Quarter Pounder is pricier. 

But quarterly sales at U.S. restaurants that have been open for at least 13 months grew at their slowest pace in more than a year. 

Worse, the actual number of visitors to a McDonald's dropped by 0.3 percent.

You might have thought that the introduction of (a version of) its Dollar Menu would have projected McDonald's into an American stratosphere.

Oddly, rivals responded with their own deals. And people seem to have responded with their own eyes open.

It's hard rising to increased sales and profitability when, half the time, you're racing toward the floor. 

Especially as dietary tastes are changing and they're not exactly moving toward fried and fatty things. 

Part of the problem is that the chain is so big. Introducing delivery, apps and kiosk ordering is all very well. Implementing it, however, isn't quite so simple.

Moreover, when it comes to breakfast Starbucks' app is far, far ahead of McDonald's. So much so that it got to the point that too many people were using it.

There's one essential element at the heart of all this. It's about lagging image and reality working in painful harmony.

McDonald's knows it's coming from quite far behind.

Its brand image became questionable, just as its product suffered from a severely dated quality, both in terms of taste and health.

Then there's the young people thing.

Recently, I visited a very alluring McDonald's in Lisbon, Portugal. I didn't adore the food, but the atmosphere was, well, at least of this decade.

Too many U.S. McDonald's simply feel old.

Worse, the chain has just suffered a rare health scare, with the cessation of salad sales in 14 states after many people were taken ill.

McDonald's is sprinting, but who can have confidence that it's sprinting fast enough?

Consumers tend to be less than forgiving these days, the selfish techno-obsessed modernists. 

I fear Ronald's makeup may run a little from the big beads of sweat forming on his forehead. 

Published on: Jul 26, 2018
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.