from CFIF, By Troy Senik – “I won’t lie to you. I expect to be judged by results” – President Barack Obama, February 10, 2009.
From its germinal days, the presidency of Barack Obama has been an inchoate affair. As a candidate, the junior senator from Illinois was prone to stirring but intangible rhetoric. When Obama spoke of “the audacity of hope” or triumphantly pronounced “we are the ones we’ve been waiting for,” he inspired without informing. No one knew what his phrases meant; they were simply empty vessels in which the American people could place their hopes and aspirations. The president-in-waiting was less a candidate than a totem for a poorly-defined idealism about American politics.
As president, however, Obama has had no such luxury. As the cliché goes, politicians campaign in poetry, but govern in prose. On the stump, Obama was lyrical. In the Oval Office, he borders on illiterate.
Obama has asked to be judged on results. As dutiful citizens, we owe it to him to hold him to that standard. Consider these 10 statements, all of which proved to be untrue:
1. Claim: “When there is a bill that ends up on my desk as the president, you the public will have five days to look online and find out what’s in it before I sign it.” – June 22, 2007
Reality: Frequently broken, this pledge was ignored in a particularly egregious fashion with ObamaCare. There, Congress passed a massive, 2,000 plus-page piece of legislation late in the evening on Sunday, March 21, 2010. The bill was signed into law on the morning of Tuesday, March 23, 2010.
2. Claim: “Muammar Gaddafi has lost the legitimacy to lead and he must leave; those who perpetrate violence against the Libyan people will be held accountable; and the aspirations of the Libyan people for freedom, democracy and dignity must be met.” – March 3, 2011
Reality: Nearly six months later, Gaddafi remains in power in Libya, with no resolution to the standoff – nor hope for the Libyan people – in sight.
3. Claim: “Today, I’m pledging to cut the deficit we inherited by half by the end of my first term in office.” – February 23, 2009
Reality: Average annual budget deficits during Obama’s first term have been about four times larger than the annual deficits “inherited” from George W. Bush, usually running between 1.2 and 1.4 trillion dollars annually.
4. Claim: “We’ve got a philosophical difference, which we’ve debated repeatedly, and that is that Senator Clinton believes the only way to achieve universal health care is to force everybody to purchase it. And my belief is, the reason that people don’t have it is not because they don’t want it but because they can’t afford it.” – February 21, 2008
Reality: Obama signed health care reform into law on March 23, 2010. The bill included a provision for an “individual mandate” in health care insurance – in other words, a design to “force everybody to purchase it.”
5. Claim: “Yesterday, Jim [Owens], the head of Caterpillar, said that if Congress passes our [stimulus] plan, this company will be able to rehire some of the folks who were just laid off, and that’s a story I’m confident will be repeated at companies across the country.” – February 12, 2009
Reality: “I think realistically no. The truth is we’re going to have more layoffs before we start hiring again” – Jim Owens, later in the day on February 12, 2009
6. Claim: “I’m going to have all the [health care] negotiations around a big table. We’ll have doctors and nurses and hospital administrators. Insurance companies, drug companies — they’ll get a seat at the table, they just won’t be able to buy every chair. But what we will do is, we’ll have the negotiations televised on C-SPAN, so that people can see who is making arguments on behalf of their constituents, and who are making arguments on behalf of the drug companies or the insurance companies. And so, that approach, I think is what is going to allow people to stay involved in this process.” – August 21, 2008
Reality: Not only did the health care horse-trading never make it to C-SPAN, the entire process was notable for its lack of transparency, a criticism that almost sank the health care bill’s prospects for passage when sweetheart deals like the so-called “Cornhusker Kickback” and “Louisiana Purchase” were revealed.
7. Claim: [On illegal immigration] – “They wanted a fence. Well, that fence now is basically complete” – May 10, 2011
Reality: According to the Department of Homeland Security, the double-layer fencing on the U.S.-Mexico border is only five percent complete.
8. Claim: ” Between 2001 and 2009 […] a very specific philosophy reigned in Washington: You cut taxes, especially for millionaires and billionaires; you cut regulations for special interests; you cut back on investments in education and clean energy, in research and technology.” – September 22, 2010
Reality: During the Bush years, high-cost federal regulations increased by 70 percent, while federal expenditures on education increased by 58 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars.
9. Claim: “No system of government can or should be imposed upon one nation by any other.” – June 4, 2009
Reality: While the ‘should’ question is a different matter, the ‘can’ is historically illiterate. Systems of government have been imposed on foreign nations throughout recorded human civilization. Perhaps Obama would like to spend some time on the history of Germany and Japan after World War II?
10. Claim: “We are five days from fundamentally transforming the United States of America.” – October 30, 2008.
Reality: All that changed on Election Day 2008 was the leadership in Washington. Now, after two and half years, it’s become clear that the United States of America is the same way it’s always been – good-natured, freedom-loving and skeptical of too much power in Washington. Politicians don’t fundamentally change democracies, Mr. Obama. The voters who elect them do. But you’ll probably discover that soon enough.
Obama has asked to be judged on results. As dutiful citizens, we owe it to him to hold him to that standard.