Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Promises, promises...

Given the apocalyptic premonitions of both my wife and my father-in-law, I am not sure if it was more remarkable that Barack Obama survived his inauguration or that America survived it. For my part, I was and remain convinced that our new President is the best guarded man on the planet; to be sure, nobody on his security detail wants to be the one who let some wingnut get to their client. If I perceived a threat at all, it was from the media's universally masturbatory coverage of the proceedings (see here, here, here and here.)

The MSM notwithstanding, it remains an American miracle that we have been able to conduct the most seamless transfer of such unparalleled power to be observed on this benighted planet, and have done so forty-four times. The fact that such an exchange could be conducted in relative safety - even as the nation is in a struggle to the death against Islamism - due to the actions of the outgoing president should not be lost on any of us, least of all on Obama or his throngs who swelled on the Mall.

But soon, if not already, Mr. Obama will find that even unparalleled power has limits. Many (wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and a flagging economy) will be the inheritance bequeathed him by his predecessor. Others will be of his own design, or will be abetted by his Democratic confederates in Congress and elsewhere. I suspect that if Obama's presidency is to come undone, part of the undoing may well stem from the trail of promises that cannot but be broken despite the leverage inherent in his new office.

Indeed, Obama was a prodigious promiser, even by the standards of politics. (The full list resides at National Journal's website.) His assurances, many of them costly, run the gamut from spending "$150 billion over 10 years into establishing a green energy sector," to investing "$1 billion over five years in innovative transitional jobs programs" to signing "a universal health-care bill into law" by the end of his first term.

A few of them are so trifling as to make one wonder which constituency he was trying to appeal to when he made them (i.e.: committing himself to helping organic farmers and helping rural communities keep young people from leaving.) Others are just downright implausible (e.g.: his promises to "work to overturn the Supreme Court's ruling on Ledbetter v. Goodyear" and open "America Houses" in major cities throughout the Islamic world.) Obama has committed himself to such a smorgasbord of disparate plans and programs that the question becomes not if but when he will break his pledges.

It is evident to some that Obama is aware that he has over-promised. Monday's Chicago Tribune had an op-ed by Thomas B. Edsall in which he described Obama's recent news conferences as efforts in part "to provide him running room to prepare voters for the postponement or abandonment of some of his more costly pledges." The question for liberals is who will play Obama's George Stephanopoulos and declare that Obama "has kept all the promises he intended to keep." The good news for conservatives is that Obama is as popular today as he will ever be; it's only downhill from here.

And yes, I wore my red today!

P.S.: It is perhaps fitting that Ronald Reagan was not among the former presidents recognized at the inauguration. Neither Jimmy Carter nor any of Reagan's successors could share the stage with him. It is fitting that Reagan looked down on them and all of us, presumably from Mount Olympus.

P.P.S.: Doubtless, our prayers go out to the ailing Senator Ted Kennedy.

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