Image by jmtimages via FlickrSo, we're a little over a month into the Presidency of Barack Obama. I wonder how different these past 30+ days have been from what he envisioned. He was all revved up to "hit the ground running," and he started stumbling right out of the gate! Blagojevich-gate cast a pall over the transition period, no less than three of his appointees for major positions within his Team were shown to be tax cheats (causing two of them to "withdraw from consideration"), his half-brother was arrested for drug possession, his efforts to reach across the aisle have been rebuffed at every turn. Surely this wasn't what he thought he was getting himself into!
For as much as he had campaigned on a promise to change Washington, he had better learn to play the Washington game considerably better than he has been playing it if he hopes to survive it. He's going to have to adapt, adopt and adjust quickly, lest he endure four full years of this Washington culture of digging up skeletons and political progress-blocking stalling every effort he makes toward his goals.
Indeed, he's already taken the first tentative steps into par-for-the-course politics-as-usual: in Mr. Obama's first speech as President before a joint session of Congress on Tuesday, it seems the old tried-and-true strategy of refusing to let facts get in the way of a good story was his choice of gameplan.
The non-partisan public advocate site FactCheck.org (which everyone should bookmark or subscribe to) reviewed the speech, and reports that President Obama sure seemed to get a lot of things wrong:
* He said "we import more oil today than ever before."
* He claimed his mortgage plan would never help those who borrowed beyond their means.
* He claimed health care costs cause bankruptcies in America "every 30 seconds."
* He stated that the automobile was invented in America.
* He said the transcontinental railroad was completed during the Civil War.
* He claimed that his stimulus plan "prevented the layoffs" of 57 Minneapolis police officers.
* He said that the CHIP program only provides health insurance for those children whose parent's work Full-Time.
Every single one of these assertions turns out to be either completely false or, at best, exaggerated and distorted. Yet, these "facts" are among those on which he is basing the defense of his stimulus plan and proposed budget. (Read the article at FactCheck.org to get in-depth discussion of each point - what he actually said in the speech and what the real truth is. You can read that article here.)
So, before even half of the high-scrutiny First 100 Days of his Presidency have passed, is President Obama becoming the very type of typical Washington politician he railed so hard against in his campaign? The line between maintaining the support of the idealistic youth vote that helped to sweep him into office (and, indeed, his own optimism) and doing what he will have do to accomplish his goals (get down in the muck with the Washington crowd) is razor thin. How long can he walk that line? How long before the notoriously fickle American public begins to turn?