John Andrews

How flattering for a commentator when the President of the United States echoes your stuff. Provided he doesn't then make a mockery of it. On Jan. 20, Mr. Obama and I seemed to agree it’s time responsible America made a comeback. Three weeks in: what a joke.

In his inaugural address, the President called for “a new era of responsibility – a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation and the world.” This was not a campaign theme of his, but if sincere, it would have been welcome.

For years, my Denver Post column has called attention to America’s responsibility deficit, our national failure to recognize that we’re all bound in relationships of duty and trust. “It’s time for a new force in American politics,” I wrote in July 2007. “We need a responsibility movement to challenge both parties and reach beyond them.”

My reference was partly to the GOP’s fiscal irresponsibility that had cost them control of Congress and would later cost them the presidency. But as a conservative who preferred McCain to Obama and other Republicans to McCain, I didn’t expect to applaud the incoming Democrat. His responsibility message sounded good, though. We've since seen how credible it's not.

President Obama says he will convene a “fiscal responsibility summit” to head off the entitlement train wreck impending with Social Security and Medicare. As a senator four years ago, he gave President Bush no help in a similar effort, but that was then. If Obama can bulldog Democrats and the senior lobby into accepting reforms, it will be a new era indeed.

While the inaugural had its debatable points, irresponsible rhetoric was absent. He had qualified praise for market economics, pledged “to spend wisely,” and said “programs will end” if they don’t work. Hmmm; time will tell. The reckless stimulus bill, long on statism and short on stimulation, is not a good start.

That day he did not equate our economic situation with the 1930s, which is sensible since it’s still less severe than the early ‘80s. He blamed “our collective failure to make hard choices,” not capitalist villainy. But he has since suggested making profits isn’t responsible. Fasten your seat belt.


John Andrews

John Andrews is former president of the Colorado Senate and the author of "Responsibility Reborn: A Citizen's Guide to the Next American Century"