Everything you need to know about false Hope and Change can be found in one picture: the image of President Obama embracing embattled Sen. Chris Dodd.
The troubled Democrat is in deep over his sweetheart Countrywide home-loan deals, corporate bailout cash and crony associations. New revelations by Countrywide whistleblower Robert Feinberg confirm what more and more of Dodd's constituents in Connecticut are coming to realize: He's a lying weasel.
Dodd denied knowledge of the special treatment the subprime mortgage company had given him and Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad on home loans. (Dodd's were worth more than $800,000.) Feinberg flatly contradicted him in secret testimony on the Hill this week.
Connecticut voters are not smiling about Dodd's hypocritical bashing of lobbyists on the airwaves while he parties with them behind closed doors. And as they scrimp through the recession, they haven't forgotten about Dodd's dozy Irish cottage deal with convicted insider trader Edward Downe Jr. (who received a Clinton pardon with Dodd's generous help). Sandra Harris, an unaffiliated voter from West Hartford, Conn., told the Hartford Courant: "I've lost respect for him. … It's time for a change." A Quinnipiac poll now shows that 60 percent of key independent voters disapprove of Dodd.
But Dodd's cratering numbers and mounting ethics scandal aren't just about Dodd. Damaged birds of a feather flock together. Even before these latest disclosures, Dodd's approval ratings had dropped to their lowest levels ever. Yet, Obama -- agent of the "new politics," erstwhile Breath of Fresh Air, guarantor of all that is good and clean in Washington -- declared his support for Dodd's 2010 re-election campaign bid.
"I can't say it any clearer: I will be helping Chris Dodd because he deserves the help," Obama announced in April. "He just has an extraordinary record of accomplishment, and I think the people of Connecticut will come to recognize that."
Obama progressives should cringe at their president's bear hug of one of the most ethically compromised politicians on Capitol Hill. The Beltway swamp is teeming with Democratic corruption scandals -- Pennsylvania congressman John Murtha's earmark factory and tax-subsidized airports and radars to nowhere; New York Rep. Charlie Rangel's rent-controlled apartment scams and tax scandals; California Rep. Maxine Waters' business ties to a minority-owned bank that received $12 million in TARP money under smelly circumstances, for starters. But Dodd's career epitomizes the most fetid aspects of Washington's culture of corruption. It's a textbook case of nepotism, self-dealing, back scratching, corporate lobbying, government favors and entrenched incumbency.
When he launched his presidential bid in February 2007, Obama inspired millions and rallied the world with his pledge to "build a more hopeful America." He told a cheering crowd in Springfield, Ill., land of Lincoln, that he recognized "that there is a certain presumptuousness in this, a certain audacity to this announcement. I know that I have not spent a long time learning the ways of Washington, but I have been there long enough to know that the ways of Washington have to change."
Two years later, Obama declared his support for an entrenched U.S. senator drowning in the decrepit old politics of pay-for-play.
Two years later, at a "historic" and "unprecedented" record pace, Obama presided over a heap of botched nominations, crony appointments, lobbyist paybacks, union and left-wing activist payoffs, and abandoned promises to make government more transparent and accountable to ordinary Americans.
"Washington is broken," Obama lamented on the campaign trail. Yet, under President Obama, the business of Washington is booming. The collapse of the Era of HopeNChangeyness demonstrates the first and last law of political physics: As government grows, corruption flows. Massive new federal spending plus tens of thousands of pages of new regulations plus unprecedented new powers over taxpayers and the economy ensure limitless new opportunities for sleaze, favor trading, deal cutting and influence peddling.
The president's dwindling blind faithful may still cling to the belief that he can work miracles. But no one, not even Barack Obama, can drain a swamp by flooding it.