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Thursday, September 3, 2009

Flip, Flop

Barack Obama made a lot of promises during his campaign and it would be unreasonable to hold him to all of them. Some he hasn't gotten around to, and some fell by the wayside because he didn't have the Congressional support, even from his own side of the aisle.

But there are other issues on which it seems he was just paying lip service. You decide whether he really changed his mind or was just saying what was expedient during the campaign.

At the outset of his Presidential campaign, he said he was a strong believer in the public financing option for Presidential campaigns. But when it became apparent that his fund-raising machine was having more success than previously hoped, he opted out, and chose private financing. (Go where the money is, Barack.)

Obama, throughout most of his life, had been a strong supporter of Palestinian rights. But when crunch time came towards the end of his campaign, he delivered a speech to AIPAC that made Benjamin Netanyahu look like a Hamas supporter. (Will th ereal Barack Obama please stand up?)

One of his constant themes during his campaign was that he was going to change the culture of Washington, and eliminate earmarks: no more business as usual. But as soon as he became President, the first bill he signed -- the "stimulus" bill -- was basically nothing but earmarks. Many of the items were payoffs to various Democratic politicans, such as a $30 million park for Nancy Pelosi's district, and $9 billion for high speed rail, some of which will go towards financing Harry Reid's longtime dream of a fast train connecting Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

During his campaign Obama said he was a consensus builder who would reach across the aisle to work with the Republicans on various issues. But on most of the legislation he has pushed, the Republicans have not been consulted at all. (Even when the Republicans had a majority, they at least included the Democrats in their meetings.) When the Republicans complained, Obama simply said, "I won." (In other words, I can do whatever I want.)

When David Souter first announced that he was retiring from the Supreme Court, Obama said that he would be looking for a replacement who would interpret the Constitution strictly and not legislate from the bench. Then he picked Sonia Stomayor, whose entire career has been spent legislating from the bench and doing her best to ignore the Constitution. (If you pick a Quota Queen, does that make you a Quota King?)

Obama portrayed himself as the post-racial President candidate who, because of his dual heritage, would unite the races. The truth is pretty much the opposite. Obama showed his true color (not colors) at the outset of the Gates affair, when he automatically called Officer Crowley and the Cambridge Police Department "stupid" for having arrested Gates. When it turned out that Gates had behaved like a hysterical ninny during the incident and that Officer Crowley had taught a course on how not to racially profile, Obama backtracked. But it was his initial reaction, not the press release a couple days after, that gave us a glimpse of the real Obama.

Obama had presented himself as a champion of gay rights during the campaign. But his administration has argued several times for the Defense of Marriage Act, the bill most anathema to the gay community right now. The media pilloried noted political thinker Carrie Prejean (Miss California USA) for voicing an off the cuff answer to a question about gay marriage that pretty much put her squarely in Obama's camp. Yet they've pretty much given Obama a free pass on the issue (surprise!).

All of this makes me think that there is a lot of subterfuge involved in the health care bill as envisioned by his administration. What parts of the health care bill might he be lying about? That it won't insure illegal aliens? That it won't drive private insurers out of business? That it will not cut back on health care for elderly?

He says all these things, but it's hard to trust what Obama says given his history.


Anonymous said...

If you change the names of people and/or events in this post, don't you think it might apply to anyone who ever ran for anything in politics?

John Craig said...

It would apply to a lot of politicians, but of all the recent Presidents, I can honestly think of no one who's flipped on more issues than Obama. I wasn't a fan of W, but he pretty much stuck to his positions, even if misguided. Clinton held his finger to the wind, but even he didn't change as much as Obama from his campaign positions (of course, he did his best to leave himself a lot of wiggle room on everything he did, and didn't promise as much as Obama). And Clinton was by nature a very dishonest guy, too. Bush the Elder famously changed on taxes, but mainly because he was backed into a corner by a Democratic Congress. Reagan stuck to his conservative guns, Carter to his liberal ones. They all ran into trouble for various things, but few said one thing and then did the exact opposite with the regularity that Obama does.