“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.