Confessions of an Obama Supporter–Politics as Usual?

I didn’t necessarily have it in mind to post today, but I ran across this OpEd piece in the Washington Post by Ruth Marcus.

President Barack ObamaNow let me just say at the outset that Marcus describes feeling “thoroughly depressed” after reviewing Obama’s debt reduction plan. But it seems to me this stands to reason at some level.

You see, Ms. Marcus appears to have bought into the “Change you can believe in” chant from a few years back. And now she apparently believes that Obama somehow reneged (just like I described in a piece yesterday).

The only difference? Marcus believes that, essentially, the devil made him do it—the devil being personified by those nasty members of the opposing party. She writes:

In office, however, Obama’s “yes, we can” inevitably collided with “not so fast.” His pledge to end the partisan bickering and gamesmanship in Washington resulted in even more of the same.

She goes on:

As the president discovered, it’s impossible to dance with people determined to stomp on your toes — indeed, with people convinced that stomping on your toes, to the extent they can get away with it, is their route to reelection.

So if I understand correctly, Ms. Marcus blames the opposition for Obama’s lack of sticking to his campaign’s bold clarion call to end political gamesmanship in Washington.


Well, if I do say so myself, she must be more than a little blind to reality. And if changing Washington was impossible for the president to accomplish with a dominant majority in both houses, why would she and so many other contemporary cynics have believed Obama in the first place?

The Obama mantra

Now I ask you… Where was Marcus’ voice when Obama broke the following promises (with no opposition to speak of keeping him compelled to play politics)?

  • Transparency – Didn’t the presidential candidate promise to make decisions in the open, for all to see? Yet within months he had broken that promise time and again, including in the underhanded methods his party used to push through the energy/climate bill in June. Consisting of more than 1200 pages, there wasn’t even enough time allowed for congressmen and women to read the legislation once through, before being scheduled for a vote.
    Did he call his party out on such a breach of trust and I just missed it? I would say, rather, he seemed genuinely pleased that these bills passed without much deliberation.
  • Earmarks – Obama had promised to do away with them, but in the very first months of his presidency, as part of the so-called stimulus and bailout packages, the legislators of his party were able to find numerous hooks to legislation for rewarding those who had voted them into office. It was a politician’s dream come true. Even the executive branch seems to have gotten into the act by pushing through a loan to Solyndra, as I discussed in a post yesterday.
    And what was the president’s reaction? Did he bemoan the fact that he was finding it impossible, through the actions of his own party’s majority, to keep the promises he made to those who elected him? I must have missed that as well…
  • Bipartisanship – Marcus makes this the coup de grâceof his failure–and one in which he’s completely absent of complicity. But she seems to forget that in order to command bipartisan respect, one’s policies have to be capable of appealing to both sides. Bullying  through legislation by virtue of a majority in congress—much of it determined behind closed doors and without outside input—just doesn’t cut it.
    And once again, we find him silent about the fact that these realities portray as impotent his repeated and ubiquitous vows to “fix” Washington.

As I review this presidency, I feel confident that Obama participated in politics as usual, just as Marcus suggests, but not because it was somehow forced upon him by some hostile takeover.

Men of principle and character don’t blame others for their failure to keep promises.

Thoughts on the budget crisis

I just want to say one more thing about this debt issue. Many seek to spin conservatives as being intransigent by refusing to meet their counterparts somewhere in the middle.

Well, from my perspective, this has nothing to do with stubborn politics. This is principle.

Might I offer an example?

Congressman Jason Chaffetz

Congressman Jason Chaffetz

There’s a congressman from Utah, Jason Chaffetz, who was elected to office during the same election cycle that saw Obama win the presidency. Chaffetz, it seems, was ahead of the curve. Before it was stylish for Republicans to stand fast against overspending, this man  campaigned on the notion that “we couldn’t continue to run government on a credit card.”

How prophetic.

But unfortunately, that is precisely what Obama has sought to do.

Is it any wonder that conditions became ripe for the likes of the tea party?

And of course, though the original tea party event served as a demonstration against taxation without representation, this modern political movement’s fear is of procurement without revenue.

So the so-called stubborn refusal to yield in the great budget debates of 2011 has nothing to do with a desire to be intractable on the basis of political ideology; it has everything to do with being true to correct principles.

And the principle of not spending beyond your means is age-old.

If any one of us—you or I—were to act as the federal government has, we’d be thrown in jail for fraud!

Thank goodness we only got a slight reduction in our Triple A credit rating instead.


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