Obama’s “Read My Lips” Moment, And Why It Should – But Won’t – Matter

“Read My Lips: No New Taxes”. Anyone familiar with modern American politics knows that that phrase, spoken by then Vice-President George H.W. November. And his failure to stick to that pronouncement is one of the main reasons that he was not re-elected four years later.

Now a politician not living up to his campaign promises is nothing new. As a matter of fact, I think you would be hard-pressed to find a politician who didn’t go against some of the promises that he or she made during their election. So why would Bush’s failure to live up to his “No new taxes” pledge be any different? Why? Because it wasn’t just the fact that Bush made that pledge, but the manner in which he made it. It was the “Read My Lips”, followed by the solemn, stern manner in which he made his pronouncement, that made his failure to live up to that promise so much more serious.

And now, President Obama has had HIS “Read My Lips” flub, and I’m willing to bet that it hardly rates a blip in the political circles. And it’s not like Obama hasn’t already backpedaled on several of his campaign promises. He promised to close Gitmo, and not only hasn’t but has now added that he will house Americans there. The man who campaigned against both the Patriot Act and the Bush tax cuts has extended both. But one of the cornerstones to his first campaign was the fact that Barack Obama would not let corporate-moneyed interests affect his campaign. And this wasn’t just another one of those off-the cuff campaign remarks, he was serious. Dead serious.

In a 2007 campaign stop in Iowa then-Senator Obama railed against outside groups and their influence in an election, stating that someone “can’t be against them one day and for them the next. (December 22, 2007). In this clip he talks about John Edwards and a group supporting him that is “getting around campaign finance laws.”


You can’t say yesterday you don’t believe in them and today you have three-quarters of a million dollars being spent for you,” Obama said.

You can’t just talk the talk,” Obama told an audience during the campaign event. “The easiest thing in the world is to talk about change during election time. Everybody talks about change at election time. You’ve got to look at how do they act when it’s not convenient, when it’s harder.”

Well President Obama, it looks like it is no longer convenient, that it is in fact harder. and we ARE looking at how you act.

Remember those words, and then read this New York Times (not exactly FOX News) article from two days ago (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/07/us/politics/with-a-signal-to-donors-obama-yields-on-super-pacs.html?_r=1&hp):

The above link gives you the entire article, I’ll give you the highlights here:

Obama Yields in Marshaling of ‘Super PAC’ By JEFF ZELENY and JIM RUTENBERG Published: February 6, 2012

WASHINGTON — President Obama is signaling to wealthy Democratic donors that he wants them to start contributing to an outside group supporting his re-election, reversing a long-held position as he confronts a deep financial disadvantage on a vital front in the campaign.

The Republican National Committee sharply criticized the decision. A spokesman, Joe Pounder, declared: “Yet again, Barack Obama has proven he will literally do anything to win an election, including changing positions on the type of campaign spending he called nothing short of ‘a threat to our democracy.’”

You see, this is not a matter of political convenience, a matter of compromise. This is a matter of principle, and Obama is showing us that, instead of the man of principle he told us he was, in reality he is just another Washington politician. I think one of the things that makes this so much more than just politics as usual. Think back to the elections of 2010. 49 democratic incumbents lost their bid for re-election that November night, many of them because they voted for the unpopular healthcare bill. They knew it was risky at best and quite possibly political suicide to vote for that bill, and yet they did. They did so because they knew in their hearts that to them it was the right thing to do. They stood by their principles, and paid the price.

Consider Former Democratic congresswoman Kathy Dahlkemper, a Catholic from Erie, Pennsylvania, who cast a crucial vote in favor of Obamacare in 2010. A vote that was only cast after she was assured that federal funds would not go to fund abortion, something that her heavily Catholic district felt strongly about. And now this week, after Obama’s Department of Health and Human Services said they would require all private insurers, including Catholic charities and hospitals, to provide free coverage of contraception, sterilization procedures, and the “week-after” pill “ella” that can induce early abortions, Dahlkemper has come out and stated that she was betrayed, that had she known Obama would do this, she would have never put her political life on the line. She stood up for principle, not only her own, but those of her president. Except now we know that her president – our president – has no principles.

But sadly, I don’t think it will matter in the general election. Bush I lost his election because enough of his supporters knew they could no longer support a man who goes back on his principles. Obama supporters, at least the ones that I’ve been talking to, don’t seem to grapple with those same moral dilemmas, and I doubt that anything I have to say would change their minds, so I won’t even try. But I have to wonder if they would be willing to listen to the voice of one of their own, former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich.

ROBERT REICH: Obama Has Handed The Election Over To The Super Rich

It has been said there is no high ground in American politics since any politician who claims it is likely to be gunned down by those firing from the trenches. That’s how the Obama team justifies its decision to endorse a super PAC that can raise and spend unlimited sums for his campaign.

Baloney. Good ends don’t justify corrupt means.

I understand the White House’s concerns. Obama is a proven fundraiser – he cobbled together an unprecedented $745 million for the 2008 election and has already raised $224 million for this one. But his aides figure Romney can raise almost as much, and they fear an additional $500 million or more will be funneled to Romney by a relative handful of rich individuals and corporations through right-wing super PACS like “American Crossroads.”

The White House was surprised that super PACs outspent the GOP candidates themselves in several of the early primary contests and noted how easily Romney’s super PAC delivered Florida to him and pushed Newt Gingrich from first-place to fourth-place in Iowa.

Romney’s friends on Wall Street and in the executive suites of the nation’s biggest corporations have the deepest pockets in America. His super PAC got $18 million from just 200 donors in the second half of last year, including million-dollar checks from hedge-fund moguls, industrialists and bankers.

How many billionaires does it take to buy a presidential election? “With so much at stake” wrote Obama campaign manager Jim Messina on the Obama campaign’s blog, Obama couldn’t “unilaterally disarm.”

But would refusing to be corrupted this way really amount to unilateral disarmament? To the contrary, I think it would have given the President a rallying cry that nearly all Americans would get behind: “More of the nation’s wealth and political power is now in the hands of fewer people and large corporations than since the era of the robber barons of the Gilded Age. I will not allow our democracy to be corrupted by this! I will fight to take back our government!”

Small donations would have flooded the Obama campaign, overwhelming Romney’s billionaire super PACs. The people would have been given a chance to be heard.

The sad truth is Obama has never really occupied the high ground. He refused public financing in 2008. Once president, he didn’t go to bat for a system of public financing that would have made it possible for candidates to raise enough money from small donors and matching public funds they wouldn’t need to rely on a few billionaires pumping unlimited sums into super PACS. He hasn’t even fought for public disclosure of super PAC donations.

And now he’s made a total mockery of the Court’s naïve belief that super PACs would remain separate from individual campaigns, by officially endorsing his own super PAC, and allowing campaign manager Jim Messina and even cabinet officers to speak at his super PAC events. Obama will not appear but he, Michelle Obama, and Vice President Joe Biden will encourage support of the super PAC.

One Obama adviser says Obama’s decision to endorse his super PAC has had an immediate effect. “Our donors get it,” the official said, adding that they now want to “go fight the other side.”

Exactly. So now a relative handful of super-rich Democrats want fight a relative handful of super-rich Republicans. And we call that a democracy.

Read more: http://robertreich.org/post/17251255054#ixzz1lqPIlCV5


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