January 28, 2010

Obama's Broken Promises

obama-sad.jpgThe fact that politicians frequently break campaign promises it not exactly big news. I suspect that most rational people understand that this is going to happen. We have experienced it enough that it cannot surprise us. Of course, this doesn't make it much less upsetting when it happens. We may not be surprised, but we are certainly disappointed. President Obama was hailed by many as the candidate who would bring real change to American politics. Yet it is now clear that he too has broken some important campaign promises.

Obama campaigned on the public option and against mandating people to purchase private insurance. In fact, his opposition to mandates was one of the few things that distinguished him from Clinton on health care. It does not surprise me that he has now reversed himself on both of these components, however, I am disappointed that he has not yet been honest with the American people about the reasons for this shift.

By making the absurd and easily disprovable claim that he never campaigned on the public option, Obama lost even more credibility on the left than he already lost by refusing to prosecute Dick Cheney for war crimes. Does he really think we will accept everything he says without question or fact checking? He's been spending too much time with Republicans if he believes that!

When I see Obama move from supporting the public option and opposing mandates, I speculate that he overestimated the support he would receive for one and was simply naive about the other. I regard these as easily forgivable mistakes. What is less forgivable is that any such speculation is necessary. He should come right out and acknowledge that he was unable to get what he really wanted because of how far to the right his party has shifted. By choosing instead to lie about his previous intentions and promises, he's digging himself into a hole that will cost him support.

Now he's pushing a spending freeze, the same idea he opposed during the campaign when McCain suggested it. I sincerely hope President Obama is planning to give progressive voters some reason to support him for a second term. He hasn't done so yet.