The Campaign Spot

The New York Times Discovers That Obama’s Statements Come With Expiration Dates

The New York Times awakens, smells coffee, notices an Obama statement that reached its expiration date:

“When there’s a bill that ends up on my desk as president, you the public will have five days to look online and find out what’s in it before I sign it, so that you know what your government’s doing,” Mr. Obama said as a candidate, telling voters he would make government more transparent and accountable . . . Five months into his administration, Mr. Obama has signed two dozen bills, but he has almost never waited five days . . . Now, in a tacit acknowledgment that the campaign pledge was easier to make than to fulfill, the White House is changing its terms. Instead of starting the five-day clock when Congress passes a bill, administration officials say they intend to start it earlier and post the bills sooner.”

A lot of politicians break promises. But the Obama campaign took this to a new level by making promises and clearly not bothering to look into whether they would be easy or hard to keep. Obama deserves half a point for using the “now, we know this will not be easy” line in almost every speech, but a major theme of his campaign last year was this assertion that the only obstruction to many great policy outcomes was a lack of will; all we needed was a president who was determined to make it happen, and Abracadabra! – more accessible, more transparent, more responsive government. (“Yes, we can!”) And now, we find . . . no, the world, and government, is a bit more complicated than that.


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