In the matter of just 50 days, a fissure has widened into a split; the split has become a gap; and the gap is becoming a gulf. I have in mind the extraordinary contradiction between what President Obama says and what he does.
Consider a partial list, starting with earmarks. During the campaign, Obama said, “the truth is, our earmark system — what’s called pork-barrel spending in Washington — is fraught with abuse. It badly needs reform — which is why I didn’t request a single earmark last year, why I’ve released all my previous requests for the public to see, why I’ve pledged to slash earmarks by more than half when I am President of the United States.” And as ABC’s Jake Tapper pointed out, after John McCain picked Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate, Obama criticized her for having been of two minds on earmarks. “When you have been taking all these earmarks when it is convenient and then suddenly you are the champion anti-earmark person,” Obama said, “that is not change, come on. I mean, words mean something.”
Yet yesterday, Obama signed rather than vetoed a massive, $410 billion omnibus spending bill — which contained more than 8,500 earmarks. Adding chutzpah to his hypocrisy, Obama told reporters, “The future demands that we operate in a different way than we have in the past. So let there be no doubt: this piece of legislation must mark an end to the old way of doing business and the beginning of a new era of responsibility and accountability that the American people have every right to expect and demand.” This is the fiscal version of St. Augustine’s prayer, “Lord, make me chaste — but not yet.”
Second, Obama made bi-partisanship a cornerstone of his campaign. It was he, we were told, who would repair the breach and “turn the page.” It is he who wrote that “genuine bipartisanship assumes an honest process of give-and-take” and that the majority must be constrained “by an exacting press corps and ultimately an informed electorate” to “negotiate in good faith.” Yet Republicans have been shut out from writing and offering substantive input into key legislation. Obama has so far demonstrated no interest in authentic bi-partisanship; he is allowing Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid to muscle through their agenda, even at the cost of losing almost every elected Republican in the United States Congress.
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