Three months ago Barack Obama was elected on a promise of hope and change. After less than a month in office his message has turned to one of gloom and doom. His approval ratings have dropped significantly, and many voters must surely wonder why the reality of the Obama presidency has not matched the promise of the Obama campaign. Some may even be experiencing a bit of buyers’ (or voters’) remorse.
Problems began with a string of failed nominees, several with tax issues. Add to that a confirmed Treasury Secretary with a tax problem. These were especially embarrassing considering Vice Presidential candidate Joe Biden told voters it was “patriotic” to pay taxes. Should voters be surprised? Not if they were paying attention. All voters had to do was look at the questions surrounding some of Obama’s associates, from Bill Ayers to Rev. Wright to Jim Johnson, to know there would likely be some problems with those he chose to be part of his administration.
During the campaign, candidate Obama criticized John McCain’s ties to lobbyists saying, “We need a president who sees government not as a tool to enrich friends and high-priced lobbyists, but as the defender of fairness and opportunity for every American." He vowed that lobbyists, “won’t find a job in my White House.” When in office one of his first acts was to sign an executive order barring former lobbyists from working in the administration for agencies they had lobbied, but the following day he issued a waiver to allow William Lynn, a lobbyist for Raytheon, to serve as the Deputy Secretary of Defense. Since then at least a dozen former lobbyists have joined the administration.
Voters would not be surprised by this if they had looked at his record, rather than listened to his rhetoric. In April, USA Today reported that even though Obama boasted of being "the only candidate who isn't taking a dime from Washington lobbyists," his fundraising team included 38 members of law firms that were paid $138 million in 2007 to lobby the federal government. Those lawyers, including10 former federal lobbyists, had pledged to raise at least $3.5 million for his presidential race and employees of their firms gave the campaign $2.26 million.
During the campaign Obama was Mr. “Yes We Can,” but by the time the Congress began the battle over the proposed “stimulus” bill, he sounded more like “Scary Barry,” warning of disaster if Congress did not immediately sign onto the bill estimated to eventually cost taxpayers over a trillion dollars.
When President Bush recognized the recession he inherited in 2001 by saying the economy was “slowing down,” he was scolded by the media and Democrats for “talking down the economy.” Until three months ago, President Bush and Republicans were criticized for engaging in the “politics of fear” when it came to the war on terror and national security.
President Obama now refers to the economy of the most powerful country in the world as a “continuing disaster.” He warned the country that if Congress did not pass the so-called “stimulus” bill we “will sink deeper into a crisis that, at some point, we may not be able to reverse." Not reverse? Ever? The country he believed three months ago was up to any challenge, with unlimited possibilities, is now in such dire condition that we could be forever in economic ruin? Where did the hope go?
For those who just listened to the campaign rhetoric, this might be a surprise. For those who paid close attention though, it is not. In the debate over the war in Iraq, Obama argued against the surge. He believed we had already lost in Iraq and that the surge would not work. Several months after the surge produced a notable reduction of violence, Obama refused to see it, saying, “"Not only have we not seen improvements, but we're actually worsening, potentially, a situation there." Even when our military was seeing positive results of the surge strategy in Iraq, Obama was denying the truth and preaching doom and gloom.
The doom and gloom message on the surge in Iraq fit the story his campaign was telling about the need for change. The over-the-top rhetoric Obama is currently using for the economy is evidently what he believes is necessary to convince Americans to take on over a trillion dollars in debt and turn over more power and control to the federal government. As for the massive size and scope of the “stimulus” bill, it should not be surprising to voters if they looked at Obama’s voting record, which was one of the most liberal in the Senate.
Obama’s proposal to limit executive pay to $500,000 a year for companies receiving government bailout money shouldn’t surprise anyone who listened to Obama’s unscripted comments to Joe the plumber about spreading the wealth around.
When one of Obama’s first actions in office was to fund the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), he fulfilled a campaign promise, but in doing so he broke another one. When campaigning he repeatedly assured voters he would only raise taxes on the richest Americans, but much of the additional funding for SCHIP comes from taxes on tobacco which will hit low-income Americans hardest. Those who only listened to his campaign rhetoric might be surprised, but those who paid closer attention to his voting record wouldn’t be.
Candidate Obama campaigned on uniting the country and Democrats made fun of Bush’s failure to be a “uniter, not a divider.” In contrast to his talk about bringing the nation together, at least twice in the past two weeks President Obama has made it a point to tell Republicans, “I won.” Other Democrat politicians, as well, have reminded Republicans that they won, claiming they have the mandate of the people. They did win – and quite decidedly so. But President Obama and Democrats should remember that the election was over three months ago. That is an eternity in politics and a lot has changed since then. Obama obviously has four more years to figure out how to please the voters as President, but there is never a second chance to make a first impression.
In a matter of three short weeks President Obama has gone from upbeat and optimistic to gloomy and fatalistic. Instead of bringing change to Washington, much of what voters have seen has been politics as usual. Some may be experiencing voters’ remorse, but if they had been paying attention to his record instead of his campaign promises, they would have known what they were getting all along.