Published January 22, 2012
The Oval Office must be a quiet place these days.
Trying desperately to save his job, Barack Obama has given up on actually doing his job. He’s courting wealthy donors for campaign cash. He’s crisscrossing the country rallying disaffected voters. And he’s running disingenuous ads in five battleground states.
He’s out busily trying to secure a second term, while Americans are still waiting for him to deliver on the promises of his first. Yet judging by the president’s schedule, we shouldn’t get our hopes up.
Obama is in full-time campaign mode. And it’s only January.
This week the president sets off on a three-day campaign jaunt through five different states. Last week he held four Manhattan fundraisers and took a trip to Disney World.
But he didn’t save the fairy tales for the Magic Kingdom. The Obama campaign is up with a strange new ad in swing states defending his record on ethics, saying the president “kept a campaign promise to toughen ethics rules.” An independent fact-checker, Politifact, called the ad “half-true.” Does that make him semi-ethical?
What does it say about Obama’s record that this was the campaign’s debut ad of 2012?
Mostly, it says they have no record to run on. A record of success in jobs and the economy would be easy to champion. But when you have a record of failure, half-truths are the best you can do.
Expect to hear more of this as Obama hits the stump this week. He’ll ignore his failures and build his case on faulty premises and empty promises. That worked in 2008 because Obama had no record. But it won’t work in 2012 because he has a very clear record.
On the economy, jobs, health care, energy, the deficit, the debt, housing, lobbyists, ethics, and energy policy -- all of these issues -- the president has broken his promises to the American people. It all makes for a very unflattering before-and-after.
Let’s take that list in reverse order.
On energy, Barack Obama said in 2008 that it was time to end our foreign oil addiction. In 2011, he admitted, “we’re not where we need to be.” He called his own energy policy “just a hodgepodge.” And last week, he blocked the Keystone pipeline project, which would have provided America with a safe, affordable energy source.
On campaign ethics, Obama called Wall Street executives “fat cats” and then acted like a fat cat himself: he’s accepted more Wall Street money than all other presidential candidates -- combined.
Health care was supposed to be Obama’s great achievement. He promised his plan would bring down premiums “by $2,500” for the typical family. Last year, they rose by 9 percent.
Obama boldly promised that lobbyists would never “find a job in my White House.” He’s hired almost 100 of them.
In 2008, he said adding $4 trillion to the debt was “unpatriotic.” He’s increased it more than $4.5 trillion and is on track to add trillions more.
Obama promised to cut the deficit in half by the end of his first term. Instead, he racked up three record deficits of more than $1 trillion each.
He promised he could create thousands of jobs with green energy spending. Then he lost a $535 million taxpayer-funded loan to the now-bankrupt company Solyndra.
With his $825 billion stimulus, Obama promised unemployment would stay below 8 percent. Not only did unemployment shoot past 8 percent, it hasn’t come back to that level since.
And then there’s the biggest promise of them all: the economy. Barack Obama was so confident he could turn around the economy that he promised in early 2009 that if he didn’t have it fixed in “three years” then his presidency would “be a one-term proposition.”
(To be fair, that’s one promise he can still keep.)
In October of last year, President Obama unveiled the slogan “We Can’t Wait.” It was par for the course for a White House that regularly substitutes sloganeering for policymaking. And it was indeed merely a slogan. Three months later, we’re still waiting. We’re still waiting for a plan to revive the economy, a plan to reduce the debt, a workable, reasonable, bipartisan plan to keep any one of Obama’s many promises.
But if this week is any indication, we’re going to be waiting a lot longer.
Reince Priebus is chairman of the Republican National Committee. A native of Wisconsin, he is a lawyer by profession and previously served as chairman of the Wisconsin Republican Party and RNC General Counsel.