Last week, President Barack 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 had pledged repeatedly during his presidential campaign to raise those earners' taxes, he instantly was 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 against people across the 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 for us to take a tally.
What I discovered is that of the more than 500 promises Obama made during his candidacy, even according to the pro-Obama website PolitiFact's "Obameter," his scorecard reads: 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 overlooks is that what really matters isn't the count of broken promises; it's the caliber of those broken promises. If I fail to fulfill a promise to take my dog for 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 doghouse!
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 of transparency, C-SPAN coverage of health care debates and even Guantanamo Bay's closing. Instead, I'll 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. (Hillary) 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.)