Last week, combating sinking poll numbers and impotent to contain the oil spill rapidly polluting the Gulf Coast, President Obama reportedly turned to his top aides and said, “Plug the damn hole.” His frustration, we’re told, was palpable.
Well, perhaps now President Obama – frustrated as he is – can understand a little better how the American people feel about him. Or rather, he could if, instead of scurrying to appease him, British Petroleum laid out a bunch of completely unacceptable conditions in exchange for meeting the President’s demands. In a sense, that’s just how Obama has treated Americans.
When the President came into office, most Americans wanted four basic things. First, they needed an economy that would create jobs. Second, they asked for an end to miscellaneous abuses by health insurers. Third, they wanted a restoration of America’s image abroad. Fourth, they sought to stop the seemingly endless stream of illegal immigrants into the country. Finally, they hoped for a little more genuine good-will, bipartisanship and effectiveness from Washington.
Obama promised it all – but has imposed conditions for fulfilling his pledges that are unacceptable to the vast majority of Americans. And even then, he hasn’t delivered.
Obama insisted that the unemployment rate would remain stable or even drop, but only if Congress passed a budget-busting “stimulus” that just happened to benefit his most loyal constituencies. Then unemployment went up anyway – along with the deficit. Now, to pay for a new orgy of federal spending, the President has broken his “firm pledge” not to raise taxes on those making less than $250,000 yearly, and refuses to rule out instituting a VAT.
Obama promised that he could “reform” health insurance abuses – but only by completely restructuring the American health care system. Now, after Democrats used parliamentary tricks and a variety of buy-offs to secure the necessary votes from their own legislators, ObamaCare is more unpopular than ever. What’s more, rather than reducing costs as promised, the plan threatens to add $115 billion more to government health care spending over the next ten years. To help pay for the plan, ObamaCare itself includes 19 separate new taxes totaling $569 billion.
Abroad, the President assured us that he could restore America to the status that George W. Bush had allegedly eroded. But that promise, too, has come with a condition. In order to regain the international affection that Bush supposedly squandered, Obama has embarked on a cycle of national apology, abnegation of American exceptionalism, and appeasement of adversaries. Sixteen months after his inauguration, rather than being engulfed in the world’s embrace, America is increasingly disrespected by its enemies and estranged from its allies.
The President also pledged that he could stem the tide of illegal immigration between the United States and Mexico – but only after yet another comprehensive legislative restructuring that would result in the legalization of millions of illegal immigrants. It’s still not clear why it’s impossible to secure the border before addressing the status of those here illegally.
As for the transparency, bipartisanship and good-will that the President insisted he would bring with him to The White House, perhaps that’s been the biggest failure of all. From his inauguration speech on, Obama has shown an unseemly tendency to blame Republicans, particularly his predecessor, for any problems he encounters. Transparency has gone completely out the window – the final version of health care “reform” was crafted in secret by Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi.
And the President apparently continues to define “bipartisanship” as unilateral political surrender by his political opponents. One searches in vain either for compromises analogous to President Bush’s concessions on legislation like No Child Left Behind, or for gracious gestures, like Bush’s renaming of the Justice Department in honor of Bobby Kennedy. Above all, Obama seems continually surprised and indignant that the opposition party would actually, well, oppose him.
Certainly, Americans share President Obama’s frustration with British Petroleum. And surely everyone – even his most rabid opponents – could agree that it would be outrageous for BP to condition, in any way, its willingness to fix the mess it has made, and quickly.
But if any good can come from the most recent Gulf Coast catastrophe, perhaps it will help President Obama better empathize with the people he governs. Perhaps now, he will understand how infuriating it is to get nothing but empty promises (or unacceptable conditions) from those who are responsible for fixing a problem – all while the gushing oil flows on, and on, and on.