The President Who Cried Wolf

We all know the age-old story oft-recounted by parents in response to a child’s foray into fibbing – you say a wolf is coming, once and it is not, twice and it is not, three times and it is not and each time the crowd comes to your rescue only to learn that it was a lie; and, then you say it a fourth time, the crowd ignores your call for help and the wolf has its way.  And, the story concludes with the admonition, “now, Johnny, you don’t want to be the boy who cries wolf.”

Somehow, our President missed this lesson.

Through a first fourteen months of fits and starts, President Obama has cried wolf time after time.  Successive promises and, then, successive broken promises.

  • Guantanamo would be closed within a year – reality: it is still open.
  • Adopts government/lobbyist rules for administration – reality: makes immediate exceptions to lobbying rules.
  • Transparency pledges, including Sunshine Before Signing promise of five day public review of legislation and C-Span broadcasts of health care debate – reality: transparency hasn’t happened.
  • Voices strong opposition of Wall Street bonuses – reality: finds no fault with large J.P. Morgan and Goldman Sachs bonuses to large Democrat donors.
  • Decries Bush policies on Patriot Act, terrorist detention and interrogation – reality: adopts Bush policies on Patriot Act, terrorist detention and interrogation.
  • Fight earmarks and pork-barrel spending – reality: quadruples single year budget deficits

And, the list goes on and on.

For their part, House Democrats have been asked to toe the White House line, time and time again.

  • their support of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act would keep unemployment below 8% and create or save millions of jobs – the American economy has bled 4 million jobs and the national unemployment rate stands at 9.7%.
  • their support of Cap & Trade legislation would enable America to lead the way in the fight against anthropogenic global warming – the Obama administration failed to deliver on any meaningful climate change agreement in Copenhagen.

And, now, House Democrats are being asked to show up one more time to make Obamacare a reality.

But, this time, don’t be surprised if the House Democrats stay home and don’t answer the call.

The pitch goes . . . pass the Senate version of health care legislation, first, and then trust that President Obama will deliver a second fix-it bill to address residual issues, which the Senate pledges to pass through reconciliation, i.e. 50 + 1.

If you were a vulnerable House Democrat in a near 50/50 district, would you believe the White House line?  The answer is a simple ‘no.’  Time and again, this president has demonstrated an inability to follow through with promises made to the American public and, most importantly to Democrats on Capitol Hill, to those within his own party.

Why will this time be any different?  It won’t.  First, what possible motivation will the Senate actually have to consider a second bill and run the risk of public outcry over the extraordinary use of reconciliation?  None.

Second, the president won’t press the issue either.  The White House proposal, which as yet is nothing more than stump-speech, will never see the inked side of parchment.  It should be apparent to House Democrats that yesterday’s White House display was pure advertisment to give the public the impression that the president was accommodating, not House Democrats, but Senate and House Republicans.  If that’s the case, then what motivation does the president have to revisit the issue after he gets the Senate version passed by the House?  Again, none.

No, House Democrats are being asked to walk this plank and walk this plank alone.  If they are smart, they will not sell short memories of all the promises made and the promises broken.  House Democrats should realize that when the people in white coats are in the crowd that answered the president’s latest cry for help, that’s not a crowd they should join.