WASHINGTON -- Regardless of station in life, faith or philosophy, unfulfilled expectations are the greatest cause of anger, frustration and discontent on the planet. That's true whether those expectations arise in the interaction of husbands and wives, parents and children, teachers and students, employers and employees, businesses and customers, leaders and the led or politicians and their constituents. President Barack Obama apparently doesn't grasp this fundamental truth of human nature.
Resolving the "friction" of unfulfilled expectations requires a straightforward recognition of personal responsibility for commitments -- perceived or real -- that have not been satisfied and a determination by the parties involved to do better in the future. My experience with this process with my wife, children and colleagues usually begins with an acknowledgment of mistakes or errors I have made and includes the words "I'm sorry" or a similar phrase.
When Mr. Obama was campaigning for president, he promised "hope" and "change." The majority of the American electorate believed these nebulous ideas would make life better for us and our children. We now know better.
Current poll numbers -- the lowest for any president at this point in office -- reflect the unfulfilled expectations of millions who voted for him. Yet the president's first State of the Union address indicates he still doesn't get it.
Absent from Mr. Obama's lengthy lecture to the assembled masses last Wednesday night was any recognition of personal failure or error or even the hint of an apology. Instead, he ascribes blame to his predecessors, his political opponents and even the Supreme Court for all our problems. Apparently, apologies still are reserved for our nation generally -- and are delivered in front of "blame America first" audiences overseas.
Worse, the president's efforts to deflect responsibility for his party's political reversals, our current economic travail, national security threats and foreign policy setbacks lead him to be disingenuous at best and downright deceptive at worst. Thankfully, not everyone gathered in the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday night was willing to timidly "go along to get along."
When Mr. Obama accused the Supreme Court of reversing "a century of law ... (to) open the floodgates for special interests -- including foreign corporations -- to spend without limit in our elections," Justice Samuel Alito could be seen mouthing the words "that's not true." The justice is right, for the court has done nothing to remove long-standing prohibitions on foreign entities -- be they individuals or corporations -- against their contributing to our election campaigns.
Some argue our tolerance for dissembling on domestic political matters -- limiting campaign contributions, legislation to create jobs, raising taxes, increasing government spending and debt, imposing government-run health care or increasing regulatory controls on free enterprise -- is a long-standing tradition. Unfortunately, Mr. Obama carries the practice into issues of national security.
He boldly claimed he has provided "leadership" and "engagement that advances the common security and prosperity of all people." He also said, "Since the day I took office, we have renewed our focus on the terrorists who threaten our nation." Yet the administration's belated support for pro-democracy movements in Honduras and Iran, abandoning of a U.S. missile defense shield in Europe, insistence on shipping terrorists from Guantanamo Bay to the U.S. while returning others to the battlefield, and treating terrorists -- such as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the chief 9/11 plotter; accused Fort Hood killer Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan; and Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Christmas Day "underpants bomber" -- as common criminals all make his assertions ring hollow.
The same applies to Mr. Obama's call for Congress to "repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are." The commander in chief apparently wants us to ignore that it's not love of country that's the problem. Simply put, a warrior's ethos is incompatible with illicit, same-sex eros in the ranks. It's not "who they are"; it's what they do.
This cynical effort at resurrecting a campaign promise to use our military for radical social engineering raises expectations in the Democratic "base" that their leader can somehow prevail in implementing their agenda. Yet like so many of Mr. Obama's pledges, it is unlikely to happen absent a sea change in the American body politic.
The 1993 law -- Section 654 of Title 10, U.S. Code -- was mislabeled "don't ask, don't tell" by the media and the Clinton administration. In fact, a veto-proof majority in both houses of Congress found "no constitutional right to serve in the armed forces" and codified that "homosexuality is incompatible with military service," holding that active gays in the ranks would pose "an unacceptable risk to the armed forces' high standards of morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion that are the essence of military capability."
Unless the O-Team can show irrefutable evidence that changing the law would somehow improve "military capability" in the midst of war, even this Pelosi-Reid Congress will have to reject such blatant pandering to the far-left fringe. That undoubtedly will anger some who have not yet learned how to avoid disappointment with Mr. Obama: Keep expectations low. He is sure to live down to them.