Last week President Obama was backpedaling like a circus unicycle rider, after his compromise on extending Bush-era tax cuts for the country’s top 2 percent of income earners. Because he repeatedly pledged to raise their taxes during his presidential campaign, he was instantly slammed by his political base. Even pro-Obama comedic commentators, Jon Stewart and Bill Maher, were left humor speechless.
Feeling defensive and maybe even a bit insecure, Obama fired back in anger to those on every political spectrum. Wielding his verbal sword, the president poked and prodded, “Take a tally. Look at what I promised during the campaign. There’s not a single thing that I’ve said that I would do that I have not either done or tried to do. And if I haven’t gotten it done yet, I’m still trying to do it.”
“Not a single thing”?
Well, as a fighting champion who takes taunting seriously, I thought I’d take the president up on his challenge: “Take a tally. Look at what I promised during the campaign.”
What I discovered is that, of the more than 500 promises he made during his candidacy, even the pro-Obama PolitiFact website and their Obamameter rated his scorecard: 123 promises kept, 39 compromised, 24 broken, 82 stalled, 232 in the works and three not yet rated. What that coddled language boils down to is this: Even according to those on the political left, Obama has fulfilled 123 promises and left 380 pledges dangling farther than participles.
What PolitiFact also overlooks is that what really matters isn’t the count of broken promises but the caliber of those broken promises. If I fail to fulfill a promise to take my dog on a walk, that’s one thing. But it’s quite a different deal if I fail to take my wife on a promised date. The difference is a night in the dog house!
Let me spare you a long list of substantial pledges and promises. Here’s a short list, a few golden nuggets, or should I say fool’s gold flakes. I’ll set to the side presidential promises like transparency, C-SPAN coverage of health-care debates and even Guantanamo Bay’s closing, and instead go straight for the promise jugular. And so that no one thinks I’m overreaching my punch, here are the vows right out of the president’s mouth:
- “We’ve got a philosophical difference, which we’ve debated repeatedly, and that is that Sen. Clinton believes the only way to achieve universal health care is to force everybody to purchase it” (spoken during the Democratic presidential debate on Feb. 21, 2008).
- “We need tougher border security, and a renewed focus on busting up gangs and traffickers crossing our border. … That begins at home, with comprehensive immigration reform. That means securing our border and passing tough employer enforcement laws” (spoken in Miami on May 23, 2008).
- “Based on the conversations we’ve had internally as well as external reports, we believe that you can get one to two brigades out a month. At that pace, the forces would be out in approximately 16 months from the time that we began. That would be the time frame that I would be setting up” (spoken to the New York Times on Nov. 1, 2007, about the withdraw from Iraq).
- “We will launch a sweeping effort to root out waste, inefficiency and unnecessary spending in our government, and every American will be able to see how and where we spend taxpayer dollars by going to a new website called recovery.gov” (spoken in a speech on Jan. 28, 2009).
- “There is no doubt that we’ve been living beyond our means, and we’re going to have to make some adjustments. Now, what I’ve done throughout this campaign is to propose a net spending cut” (spoken during the third presidential debate on Oct. 15, 2008).
Source: John Stossel blog at Fox Business
- “We are going to ban all earmarks” (spoken at a press conference on Jan. 6, 2009).
- “Under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase – not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes” (spoken in September 2008 at a town-hall meeting in Dover).
- “[I] will eliminate all income taxation of seniors making less than $50,000 per year. This will eliminate taxes for 7 million seniors – saving them an average of $1,400 a year – and will also mean that 27 million seniors will not need to file an income tax return at all” (from Barack Obama presidential campaign fact sheet – 2008).
- And, oh yes, then there’s that substantial promise repeated literally dozens of times in one way shape or form on the campaign trail: “It’s true that I want to roll back the Bush tax cuts on the wealthiest Americans” (spoken in Chester, Pa., on Oct. 28, 2008).
- And, as long as we’re discussing lies and broken promises, let’s not forget this is the president that promised during his campaign to “clean up both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue” with “the most sweeping ethics reform in history.” He repeatedly pledged that “an Obama administration is going to have the toughest ethic laws of any administration in history.”
Now, what were those words the president used last week? “Take a tally. Look at what I promised during the campaign. There’s not a single thing that I’ve said that I would do that I have not either done or tried to do.”
“Not a single thing”?
I know some might accuse me of kicking a president while he’s down. But he’s actually roundhouse kicked himself (again), by not only lying about his broken promises but dissing everyone inside and outside his own political camp.
Up against the political wall last week, Obama compared Republicans on Tuesday to hostage-takers willing to harm Americans. Then he compared Democrats on Wednesday to unyielding stalemates who hold up political and American progress.
Seems to me the only politician Obama hasn’t demeaned is himself.
Is that because Obama is so far out ahead of the American pack in wisdom or because he’s finally just walking alone with no one following? Has his arrogance, defiance, charismatic charade and inability to lead in conflict (proven last week by his need of former President Bill Clinton’s presence) finally caught up with him, isolating him from even his most avid followers?
Maybe it’s a good time this Christmas season for Obama to contemplate a bit of wisdom from the Good Book: Pride comes before the fall.