As the political class focuses on President Obama’s efforts to jam through health-care legislation along party-line votes, it’s important that we not give him a pass for his string of broken promises. The one that jumps to mind today — as Obama is hosting a health-care meeting of only Democrats (plus Independents Joe Lieberman and Bernie Sanders), capping an approach that froze out Republicans from the get-go — is the promise Obama made during the campaign to work with those across the aisle. It was Obama, we were told (by Obama), who would repair the breach and “turn the page.” It is he who told us 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.” Obama would set aside politics as usual and listen carefully to others, “especially,” he said on the night of his election, “when we disagree.”
These promises — which were more than incidental; they were central to the Obama campaign and the Obama appeal — were fiction. It seems clear now that Mr. Obama never intended to act on what he said.
It is quite a distinction our 44th president has achieved as he ends his first year in office. He is both the most unpopular and the most polarizing and partisan president in our lifetime.