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The worst financial crisis since the Great Depression has sent the American economy into free fall and moved the war in Iraq to the back burner.
Which is a good thing for President-elect Barack Obama because it detracts from another broken promise from the campaign of the nation’s first African-American president.
During his campaign, Obama promised the American people he would bring American troops home from Iraq in 16 months. He’s admitted he can’t do that now. He knew he couldn’t do it when he made the claims during the campaign. But it sure sounded good to all those new, young voters who wanted to end the war.
At best, America will end its combat role in Iraq by 2011 – a deadline set by the Iraqi government and supported by Obama. His decision to keep Bush’s defense secretary – Robert Gates – in charge of the Pentagon represents a major rollback in his promise for a swift end to the war in Iraq.
Campaign promises are normally as dispensable as a condom after sex so we shouldn’t be surprised that Obama’s reneging on Iraq is just another in a growing litany of "well, I may have said that, but…"
But Obama promised to be different. He promised to be a Presidential candidate who kept his promises and he broke that promise too.
Obama said lobbyists – the real power brokers in Washington – would have no role in his government yet his transition team is packed with lobbyists and they’re the ones making recommendations on who should get top jobs and setting the legislative agenda of the new administration.
He promised an end to the old way of doing things but, so far, he has stacked his cabinet with retreads from past administrations schooled in – you guessed it — the old way of doing things.
He promised an end to the bitter partisanship of the past yet his first appointment as President-elect was the most partisan member of Congress as his chief of staff. Rahm Emmanuel is not only a rapid partisan but a former political operative who makes Karl Rove look like a Sunday school teacher.
Perhaps we should have paid more attention to an early indicator of Obama’s disregard for keeping his word. He promised to accept public financing if his opponent did. McCain accepted public financing and Obama broke that promise because he could raise and spend more money outside the system. And he raised more than $750 million. That’s three-quarters of a billion.
Some say Obama bought the election. Buying an election is old-school politics – something Barack Obama said he would bring to an end.
At this point, an Obama supporter will probably rise up in self-righteous anger and tell me we need to give the new guy a chance.
He’s had a chance…several in fact.
So far, he’s blown most of them.
I hope I’m wrong about this guy. America may not be strong enough to survive another four years of failure in the White House.
The Obama faithful keep chanting "let’s wait and see" and promise us that Obama will be the next Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
Let’s hope he is. Let’s hope star-struck American voters have not been mesmerized by style over substance.
Let’s hope the new FDR is not really just a recycled Herbert Hoover.