Commentary Magazine


Obama: “You Can’t Change Washington From the Inside”

At the Univision forum today, President Obama said the “most important lesson” he’s learned since taking office is that “you can’t change Washington from the inside. You can only change it from the outside.”

It would have been nice if he’d discovered this piece of wisdom four years ago, before he ran an entire campaign based on a promise to change Washington (via BuzzFeed):

The Obama campaign will undoubtedly defend this by saying he was referring to the power of the people — i.e. real change comes from the American public. Of course change in Washington comes from the American people. But it also comes from the president and the administration, something that Obama staked his campaign on in 2008. Now he says this “can’t” be done. So what was the point of electing him, again?

It’s Obama as the Wizard of Oz: “All this time you were looking for someone to fix Washington, and it turns out you’ve had the power of change inside you all along!” How patronizing can you get? The country elected Obama in 2008 based on his vow to transcend partisan politics and transform Washington. Now he’s acknowledging he has no control over any of it. If Washington has problems, it’s not his fault. All of you outside Washington just didn’t work hard enough to change it.

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