Are these the changes you can believe in?
Once in office, presidents often change their opinion or just “forget” their campaign promises. And they are notorious for saying falsehoods. Of course, we all “forget” and misspeak but because presidents do it in living color on the public stage it can be a little more embarrassing. Obama’s situation is a bit different. We cut him a lot of slack because he is our first African American president and that alone makes us feel good about ourselves. But his changes have come so fast and furious that he is on the verge of losing respect as a leader. And poll after poll affirms that leadership is the single most important quality we want in a president.
In 1980, Ronald Reagan made prayer in school and abortion big deals in his campaign but never touched the subjects or proposed legislation on them in the eight years of his presidency. He called for abolishing the Department of Education, instead he grew it.
In 1988, George H. W. Bush ran as “the ethics president,” promising to upgrade the office of government ethics and make it answerable directly to the president. But he never did a thing about it. The position remained a low level slot which answered to the Director of OPM. He also said, “Read my lips, no new taxes,” but he raised them anyway.
In 1992, Bill Clinton ran for health care reform but when his ideas crashed on the rocks in his first year and helped elect a Republican majority in congress the second year he never brought it back again. Ignored it for the rest of his eight years. And btw, he famously said, “I did not have sex with that woman, Monica Lewinsky.” But we all know about that.
In 2000, George W. Bush ran against nation building but after the election committed billions of dollars to Iraq and Afghanistan. We know the story of Saddam Hussein’s bogus uranium purchases in his State of the Union address.
So all presidents forget or change their minds or tell lies. Even so, Reagan was a consistent foe to Soviet Imperial expansion and ended the Cold War. Clinton balanced the budget. Bush the younger kept us safe after 9-11. They all have some bragging rights. And they all have moments of leadership. The problem for president Obama, at least for now, is that nothing is clear. No promise is sacred. Everything is on the table. There are no fixed stars to guide his course. His liberalism is indeed open ended existentialism.
He said he wouldn’t tax the middle class but his massive infusion of new paper money will eventually amount to a tax on all Americans and will hurt the poor the hardest, as inflation always does. And it looks like he will tax the middle class anyway. He just won’t admit it. He is using devices, such as redefining the middle class as a means to confuse the public.
He promised a non partisan Washington but used the economic crisis as a cover for passing a massive political pay out to unions, gays and democrat shill organizations
He is on again, off again on tort reform and a “public option” in his health plan.
He promised new jobs through a program that would rebuild the infrastructure, it was one of the few suggestions that critics felt had some merit, but then he set the timetables so far off that no immediate meaningful jobs appeared. It provided little relief for the economic crisis and unemployment is up.
He ran against the Bush fumbling of the mortgage crisis but refuses even to tweak the simplest banking rules that would allow millions of homeowners to stay in their own homes and unleash new investors who which would raise the values of those homes. All of his noise and promises offer relief to a tiny percentage of homeowners. This is a tragic and extravagant lost opportunity.
He ran against the overstretched military that is breaking up families, causing divorces and spiking suicide rates and now he is sending those same boys back again and again. So what is different?
He is against tort reform, he is for tort reform. He thinks the doctors are scamming the system, he thinks doctors are the leading the way. He is for a public option in the healthcare plan, he is against it.
He ran for change you can believe in but the only thing changing is his daily positions. And yes, he has a lot of goodwill, especially in the liberal media, who cast any opposition to any policy or position as racist, although that tactic didn’t work with the International Olympic Committee, leaving the president and his team a bit stunned.
The problem is that some of these changes are beginning to reach critical mass.
From the standpoint of presidential history, once an opinion sets in – positive or negative – it is very hard to erase. So this president should be very careful. He needs to stand for something, whatever it may be. He needs to avoid the reputation of uncertain and unprincipled leadership. It would almost have been better politically for him to have stood up to the doctors yesterday and gotten booed, and let the nation see him as a leader, than to contradict himself again by playing to his audience.