If You Can't Keep The Small Promises...

During the campaign, Barack Obama made many promises. Some promises he made only a few times, and only to specific groups, and some he made at almost every campaign stop. Some of his promises were big, but many of them were relatively small. I don't buy in to, but I can understand, the common Washington excuse that Presidents can't keep all their big promises because they are not dictators. Things that must pass Congress are sometimes beyond the ability of the President to deliver. The problem is that Obama seems to have little desire to keep his promises, even the small ones.

One of Obama’s most repeated promises on the issue of health care was that he would put all the negotiations on C-SPAN. Clearly this has not happened, but with the final negotiations now taking place to merge House and Senate bills, the chief executive of C-SPAN has requested that at least this final round of negotiations be broadcast on his network.

Unlike Obama's other promises about health care reform, this one is fully within his power to make happen. How much Obama could or should have done to push for specific policies that might not have had votes necessary pass the Senate is a completely separate debate. Everyone should agree that, as both president and the de facto leader of the Democratic Party, it is probably well with in Obama’s abilities to make sure most of these final negotiations take place on C-SPAN like he promised. I refuse to believe either Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid would turn down this request if it were strongly endorsed by Obama.

If we are not going to hold elected officials accountable for their big promises that might be beyond their control, or for the small promises on which they could easily deliver, what is the point? Why have political campaigns and elections? If you can't keep the small promises, why should anyone ever listen to you?

If the Democratic base is depressed in the 2010 elections, I don't think it will be the result of one or two big promises not delivered; I think it will be the result of dozens of smaller broken promises that could easily have been kept. That is how you disillusion many new and seasoned Democratic voters--by failing to deliver on even the small, possible stuff.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I absolutely agree.

It is also the WH's cavalier attitude about breaking the small promises that I find truly disconcerting.


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