Obama’s double standard
With the exception of that blowhard Rush Limbaugh, who said he hoped President Obama will fail, most Americans are pulling for the man from Illinois to succeed. That’s because we all have a stake in his success. And while I think it’s unfair to criticize someone who’s only been on the job less than a month, Obama has left himself open to legitimate concerns over his aptitude for saying one thing and doing another. In fact, his pattern of duplicity began long before he was elected.
Early on in his political career he campaigned as a champion for inclusiveness. Yet he and the Chicago machine repeatedly dispatched his political rivals by employing and/or benefitting from questionable tactics. His first opponent, a popular incumbent African-American state senator was favored to thrash the young Obama until her voter petitions were thrown out because the Barack camp complained that some people printed their names instead of signing them. A few years later, he upset favored opponents in both the primary and general elections for US Senate when their messy divorce records were conveniently unsealed by two Chicago judges just prior to voting day. This would be a harbinger of the Obama method that we saw at work in the 2008 primary campaign. Again, though advocating for inclusiveness and fairness, Obama blocked Hillary’s attempts to count votes from Michigan and Florida until after the superdelegates had defected to him. During the general campaign against Sen. John McCain, and following the Rev. Wright saga, Obama made an impassioned speech for racial tolerance. After that, anyone mentioning Barack’s middle name was chastised as being racist and xenophobic. But after he won, Obama proudly spoke the name Hussein and sported his Muslim ties to anyone who would listen, including a reporter from Arabic television. The duplicity continued during Obama’s transition period. He issued an in-depth questionnaire that probed any prospective applicant for White House employment. One of the questions demanded full disclosure of any ties to Freddie Mac. Fine enough by me. The only problem is that Obama’s first act as President-elect was to hire attack dog Rahm Emanuel as his chief of staff. Emanuel, another veteran of the Daly Chicago political machine, had served on the board of Freddie Mac while that agency was besieged by problems. So much for making a break from politics of the past. And then there was the hypocrisy of Obama’s picks for treasury secretary and for deputy defense secretary. Proclaiming a crackdown on hiring lobbyists, Obama named lobbyist William Lynn to the defense post even knowing that the man had worked in the department previously, then lobbied for Raytheon, helping them to secure a huge contract with the government — this despite Obama’s statement to CNN back on Nov. 17, in which he said, “I am running to tell the lobbyists in Washington that the days of setting the agenda are over. They won’t work in my White House”. Obama also hand-picked Timothy Geitner to run the Treasury Department. But tax-dodger Geitner is the man who crafted the much-maligned bailout to AIG, which Obama has railed against. Sometimes Obama’s hypocrisy is just hard to swallow. Like when he lectures us common folk to tighten our belts, then authorizes over $150 million for his inaugural festivities. Yes, most of those funds were raised privately, but Obama should have led by example and urged his well-heeled supporters to play down the glitz. Finally, there’s the bailout sequel and its partner, the proposed stimulus package. Obama has argued against earmarks and government pork, yet both of these plans are loaded with them. The stimulus package is supposed to put Americans back to work, but examine it closely and you’ll find some head scratching items, among them: $150 million to the Smithsonian for maintenance; $400 million to NASA for earth science climate research; $600 million for purchase of government vehicles; $335 million for domestic HIV prevention programs; and $50 million to the Endowment for the Arts to help fund projects in the non-profit arts sector. That’s over a billion and a half dollars for projects that will not generate broad-based employment. We would be much better off if Obama just released that stimulus money to us directly. Each person’s share would come to about $2,500, and while such a disbursement wouldn’t create jobs either, it could at least sustain folks who are struggling while searching for a job. No one in their right mind wants President Obama to fail, but if we’re going to be asked to suffer and sacrifice while he leads us out of this economic mess, then he needs to lead with honesty, integrity and consistency. A few more duplicitous moves on Obama’s part, and Rush Limbaugh might just find a new audience for his loyal opposition.
Jim Longworth is the host of “Triad Today,” airing on Fridays at 6:30 a.m. on ABC 45 (cable channel 7) and Sundays at 10 p.m. on WMYV (cable channel 15).