During the Democratic National Convention, Joe Biden used a call and respond catch phrase with the crowd to effectively juxtapose the differences between Barack Obama and John McCain. Sadly, six months into the Obama administration Biden's words have a different effect on me. "That's not change. That's more of the same." True dat, Joe.
Let me start this with a caveat. Barack Obama (warts and all) is a much better than President than Shrub ever was, or McCain likely would have been. There's no doubt about that. It's just that Obama's clarion call for change and hope (which, I was critical of way back when) could have lead one to believe (especially if you actually listened to him) that he would do things differently. Hmm. Maybe he needs a wise Latina to help him out.
Let's start the list with the most disappointing item first. Last week, Obama asserted his right to continue the insidious practice of signing statements. It's a shady way for the Executive Branch to sidestep the Legislative, and generally just seems scummy. Plus, Obama is on record blasting Shrub for his use of signing statements. How is this any different? Because Obama will use them wisely & is awesome? Joe, take us to the next paragraph. "That's not change. That's more of the same."
During the campaign (and you can stop laughing at me for actually expecting a President to do anything they said when trying to get elected) Obama declared that he would repeal the Tiahrt amendments (riders attached to spending bills by Congressman Todd Tiahrt R-KS) which greatly complicate information gathering by law enforcement and NGO on illegal guns. Among other things, they restricted the information law enforcement could collect from gun dealers about sales to felons. In a half assed move, Obama repealed a few of the amendements, keeping the lions share in place. And continuing to restrict the ability of the ATF to track illegal guns. "That's not change. That's more of the same."
Candidate Obama promised that he would do away with Don't Ask Don't Tell, the unofficial policy of discrimination against gays in the military. Foxnews ran breathless stories warning us that the gays were coming, the gays were coming! It was considered a slam dunk. And then it wasn't. The backpedaling started a few months after the inauguration, and has gone on at a dizzying pace since then. Of course, he lamely has punted on it to Congress, knowing that they won't do anything but shoulder the blame for inaction. For me, the blame stops at the Icon of Hope and Change. "That's not change. That's more of the same."
Sort of going along with the last complaint. Obama's administration filed a legal brief in support of the incredibly lame Defense of Marriage Act. This brief actually included the sort of tropes that the Right usually trots against gay marriage. In fact, in some cases the briefs actually argued to expand the DOMA. The administration's reply is that they defend the laws on the books. Really? So blindly supporting the status quo is now change I can believe in? This might actually be the most disappointing thing Obama has done. It's not even tacit support of the old order, but a furthering of it. Hit me, Joe. "That's not change. That's more of the same."
As part of a massive credit card bill, the Republicans (with the complicity of the Democrats) attached a rider that would allow concealed loaded guns to be carried in National Parks. Obama pretty much lay back & thought of England as he signed the credit card bill and pretended like it didn't expand major loopholes in many State's gun laws. "That's not change. That's more of the same."
Sadly, this list could go on for three or four more items. And, to me, so far eclipses the good things I have seen from this White House. How quickly did the Obama of soaring rhetoric and calls for a different sort of politics evaporate into conventional politics 101? I suppose I should not be surprised, and (given that I never really drank the Kool-aid) I shouldn't be as upset as I am. And yet, Obama, change personified, is revealed to be a garden variety politician to an almost pedantic level.
I expected more from him. Even while deriding the idea of Change as a strategy, I was hopeful that at the very least his popularity and political capital would allow for some meaningful progress. Instead, Obama seems bound and determined to fritter his capital away, and allow the Democrats in Congress to do what they do best, lose majorities. One more time Joe. "That's not change. That's more of the same."
Last 5 posts by Ezra
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