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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Guest opinion: Obamania wearing off as reality sets in

A mere 13 months ago, Barack Obama swept into Washington atop a tidal wave of hope and change.  After just 147 working days in the U.S. Senate, the junior senator from Illinois had won the White House, taking down both the Clinton machine and Republican Party in the process. For many Obama-believers, anything seemed possible.  However, with the fantasy world of campaigning long gone, President Obama is learning the difference between making promises and being able to keep them — and he seems to be learning the hard way.

During the campaign, he promised a new era of bipartisan cooperation, a fundamental change to what he often referred to as the “”old politics.”” However, his first year in office has been marred with some of the most intense partisan battles in recent memory. While Republicans have certainly embraced their role as the loyal opposition, his hiring of Rahm Emanuel as White House Chief of Staff, arguably the most bitterly partisan and abrasive Democrat in all of Washington, was not exactly a gesture of bipartisan intent. 

During the campaign, he promised an unprecedented level of transparency and open government. Not only has he broken his campaign promise to broadcast health care reform negotiations on C-SPAN, but he has also provided substantial fodder to his opponents by advocating health care legislation that includes costly backroom deals such as the “”Cornhusker Hustle”” and “”Louisiana Purchase.””  

During the campaign, he promised to end no-bid government contracts and exclude lobbyists from his administration.  However, it is well documented that more than 30 lobbyists are now working in the Obama administration, and it was not until he came under fire from fellow Democrats that he ended the renewal of a $25 million no-bid contract benefitting Vincent Checchi, a well-heeled liberal campaign donor. 

During the campaign, he promised to make America safer by “”winning the battle of ideas”” and “”ensuring that American foreign policy is consistent with America’s traditional values.”” However, a string of questionable actions, including his painfully slow response to the attempted bombing of a U.S. airliner on Christmas Day, his decision to Mirandize Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab a mere 50 minutes after his arrest and bizarre determination to hold the 9/11 terror trials of Khalid Sheikh Mohammad in Manhattan, have caused many Americans to question the practicality and effectiveness of this new national security strategy. 

During the campaign, he promised “”to restore fiscal discipline to Washington”” by “”reviewing the federal budget line by line and eliminating programs that don’t work.””  The stark reality is that spending has never been more out of control.  Despite the fiscal recklessness of the Bush administration, he has managed to quadruple the deficit and spend more in one year than the last four years of the Bush administration combined. 

His vice president’s proclamation that “”we have to go spend money to keep from going bankrupt”” exemplifies a kind of logic that most Americans simply do not accept.  These broken promises demonstrate the consequences of such soaring rhetoric.  While setting forth an ambitious agenda is certainly commendable, the old adage that “”actions speak louder than words”” still rings true.  It appears that Obama’s words have set the bar so extraordinarily high that it has become impossible for his actions to keep up.  If the president wishes to start exceeding the public’s expectations, he might do well to adhere to one of the most basic rules of the business world: under-promise and over-deliver. 

Recent events indicate that the American people have begun to awaken from the trance of ‘Obamania.’  As of late, Obama seems to be more the “”kiss of death”” than the saving grace for Democrat candidates.  In addition to big Republican wins in the Virginia and New Jersey gubernatorial elections, Obama failed to convince even the voters of Massachusetts, a state he carried by 26 points in 2008, to elect a Democrat to the Senate seat once held by Ted Kennedy. 

The eventual winner of that seat, Republican Scott Brown, reminded voters that the Senate seat he was running for belonged to the people — not the Kennedy family or the Democratic party.  Obama would be wise to learn from the lessons of the Massachusetts senate race.  Failure to do so will likely result in him getting a very unwelcome reminder that the White House is the People’s House in 2012. 

—Guest columnist Ry Ellison is an entrepreneurship senior.

He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu

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