Promises, Promises: On Presidential Memory Loss

Wow. And I thought I had a bad memory. Yesterday, Mr. Obama further distanced himself from supporters of the public insurance option by insisting that he had never promised such an option would be included in any reform.

Speaking to the Washington Post, he said, “…I didn’t campaign on a public option. I think it is a good idea, but as I said in that speech on September 9th, it’s just one small element of a broader reform effort.”

Actually, Mr. President, you did. In fact, during your campaign you promised on your website: “…Any American will have the opportunity to enroll in [a] new public plan.” Okay, so politicians always make promises they don’t keep. So what else is new? But only last summer, during one of his weekly addresses, he stated emphatically:

“That’s why any plan I sign must include an insurance exchange — a one-stop shopping marketplace where you can compare the benefits, costs and track records of a variety of plans, including a public option to increase competition and keep insurance companies honest, and choose what’s best for your family.”

One small memory loss for man; one giant loss for America. (You can see the speech here.)

Oops. This President must have one of the shortest political memories in history. Or perhaps he thinks we do. I don’t like to embarrass politicians needlessly. They certainly don’t require my assistance to do that. And frankly, none of this should come as a surprise. But I do feel angry for the sake of those who pinned such hopes on Mr. Obama as an agent of change. (What change is that, except of course maybe a change of mind?) One party has used my fellow evangelicals to further its ends; another has used the poor and downtrodden. Nothing sacred. It just goes to prove, if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself. Or as controversial historian Howard Zinn stated on Moyers a few weeks ago:

“Whenever the government has done anything to bring about change, it’s done so only because it’s been pushed and prodded by social movements, by ordinary people organizing…. Traditional history creates passivity because… it makes you think that all you have to do is go to the polls every four years and elect somebody who’s going to do the trick for you.”

Damn straight.


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