Ethics Quote of the Week

“Let me just make this point, John, because we’re not campaigning anymore.  The election is over.”

———-President Barack Obama at the so-called “Health Care Summit” at Blair House, in response to Sen. John McCain’s complaint that the process used to craft the Presidents’ health care reform bill expressly violated promises Obama made during the 2008 campaign.

“Both of us promised change in Washington,” said McCain, who unsuccessfully opposed Obama for president in the 2008 election. “Eight times you said negotiations on healthcare reform would be conducted before C-Span cameras…Unfortunately this product was not produced in that fashion. It was produced behind doors. It was produced with unsavory — I say that with respect — deal making.”

Obama’s statement is doubly disturbing and ethically questionable. It was obviously disingenuous: just the day before, Politico reported that White House plans for Obama’s re-election campaign are already underway. Team Obama is campaigning again, if it ever stopped, and Obama obviously knows it. Worse, however, is the President’s implication that campaign rhetoric is just that, and solemn promises made to the voters are irrelevant once the campaign is over, to be ignored and broken without regret or consequence. It was not inappropriate for anyone, and especially McCain, to note that the back-room drafting of the President’s latest health care proposal was in direct opposition to how he pledged he would conduct the nation’s affairs, particularly health care reform. Obama airily brushed away reference to a pledge he made to voters—American citizens who took him at his word— more than once, as if it was foolish to expect promises to be kept after they have done their job and swayed sufficient votes.

Obama’s defense would be that this wasn’t his meaning, that he was only reminding McCain that they were no longer sparring on the campaign trail. Perhaps. The problem with that explanation is that Obama has broken his promise to be transparent with health care reform, and has never presented any justification for why this promise wasn’t kept. Until he does so satisfactorily, wise voters should remember his retort to John McCain at Blair House when President Obama seeks re-election in 2012.

4 thoughts on “Ethics Quote of the Week

  1. You know, this is not just a knock on Obama, but on … well, literally all our Presidents lately.

    Why do these men (and women, if we include campaigns) always talk about how ethical they will be, lay out a few relatively easy examples of the way they intend to demonstrate their ethics, and then renege on them as soon as it becomes politically inexpedient?

    I could understand it better if there were some logistical problem with keeping the promise — we all sometimes make promises that turn out to be impractical. But virtually all of these promises are grounded in a distaste for the very things that president Obama professes to loathe about “government as usual”: Backroom deals, lack of transparency, etc.

    Imagine how much more esteemed Obama would be if he had simply started off the debate with a televised “summit” rather than ending it with one transparently designed to give his party cover?

    It seems so simple in retrospect.

  2. You know what would shake up presidential politics a little bit? At the first inauguration of a president, the president should be expelled from the party that got him elected and be declared an independent. His re-election should be that of an independent facing both a democrat and a republican. Heck, if a president could do that, I might even say let him run for a 3rd term.

    • That’s kind of what Teddy R. did, and we ended up with Woodrow Wilson, WW I, Jim Crow, a dud League of Nations and a country being secretly run for a year by a woman with no governing experience and a doctor. I dunnoooooo…..

  3. Sorry, but this is a clear example of one of the lies Obama told when he was trying to get elected, then excuses them by his belief that everyone lies in campaigns, and a horrible example of the hubris that would allow him to express it now.

    He promised “new, transparent” government, reneged on same, and then said, basically, “So what? That was in the campaign.”

    Such trust we should have in this man. Personally, I feel some satisfaction that I am one of the few that voted for McCain. I trusted him then and trust him now. And at least he had the nerve to call Obama on this issue. Bravo for him.

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