Barack Obama swept into office with the limelight at his back. For nearly two years of campaigning, Obama led a nationwide movement for change and became a phenomenon, breaking all sorts of political barriers along the way. People of all demographics used Obama as a vessel in which to invest their hopes and dreams. But today, just three weeks into his presidency, Mr. Obama is on the verge of losing the country’s confidence and the large reservoir of national goodwill afforded to all incoming presidents. There are several reasons for this, all of which should be and have already been explored. I would hate to say “I told ya so,” but …
What could anyone have possibly expected from a young, overtly leftist Chicago upstart who had accomplished precisely nothing of significance throughout his short career — and yet still promised the world, and more, to his loyal adherents?
Consider his campaign pledges: It wasn’t too long ago that Obama promised to “tell the corporate lobbyists that their days of setting the agenda in Washington are over.” Ah, the corporate lobbyist, every candidate’s favorite whipping boy. “They have not funded my campaign, they will not run my White House, and they will not drown out the voices of the American people when I am president,” Barack once swore to his sea of idolizing worshipers.
That was then; this is now. President Obama has allowed seventeen exceptions to the no-lobbyist rule. And remember that “sunlight before signing” pledge, giving citizens enough time to read a bill — and offer their opinions on it — before it is signed into law? Well, that’s gone to the wayside, too.
Consider his tone and lack of bipartisanship: Obama’s election was supposed to end the “politics as usual,” filled with “divisiveness” and all other sorts of bad things. It was on Inauguration Day, as I recall, when Obama proclaimed “an end to the petty grievances … that for far too long have strangled our politics.” We should “set aside childish things,” Obama suggested, and “choose our better history.”
So much for that. The first thing President Obama did was allow Nancy Pelosi to write the egregious “stimulus” bill, effectively making it her own personal wish list. When opposition to the bill began to mount, Obama brought Republicans to the bargaining table — only to snicker “I won” to their faces.
Additionally, President Obama’s recent speech to House Democrats was as snide and sarcastic of a national address as you will ever see. It was laced with flippant, partisan attacks on those who dared to question the logic of this massive bill. His administration went on the offensive, campaign-style, impugning the motives of those who have philosophical problems with the stimulus — what he calls “bickering” — while discarding any semblance of bipartisan spirit or grace under pressure.
Consider the dialogue: Gone is the pie-in-the-sky talk about post-partisan politics, transcending space and time, and all that other nonsense. We just passed a spending bill which will — using contemporary monetary standards — cost more than Bush’s Iraq war and Roosevelt’s New Deal combined. It is, by far, the largest spending bill in American history. We could buy real estate on Mars for a fifth of the cost.
One would think Obama, who promised a new era of dialogue, would at least appreciate the historical magnitude of such a gargantuan bill — and conduct himself in accordance. After all it will be Sasha and Malia’s children who will pay off this government-induced debt. Even the bill’s advocates begrudgingly admit that.
Rather, we’ve seen our new leader act more like the teacher’s pet that finally gets detention, or the all-state quarterback who is finally benched for missing practice: self-righteous, arrogant, indignant, shocked, and incredibly thin-skinned. Martha Zoller and Jennifer Rubin each hit the nail on the head: if President Obama were as good at explaining the stimulus package as he is complaining to others about the stresses of the job, he wouldn’t feel the need to resort to testy pompousness. Obama has thus far proven to be better at displaying his obsession with talk radio personality Sean Hannity — he mentions him every chance he gets — than explaining, in a rational and coherent manner, how the Democratic pork-pet projects in his spending bill will save our economy. That’s the reality, and that’s sad.