Promises. Promises. Candidate Barack Obama in His Own Words in 2008

I once heard it said that if you were to compile a book of politicians’ promises, it would be a mighty thick volume, akin to War and Peace in size.

But if you were to write a follow-up book of actual fulfillment of said promises, it would be a mighty thin book, more like a novella. No bigger than Old Man and the Sea.

Critics would add that the problem with Barack Obama isn’t so much the unfulfilled promises as it is the ones he did fulfill, such as Obamacare or the stimulus bill, that have done so much to hurt the economy. Critics would add “socialism lite” works no better than “socialism heavy.”

In the last years of Bush and the first years of Obama, the economy of this country and the middle class in particular has done poorly. The Federal Reserve reports now that from 2007 to 2010, the average net worth of families in America has dropped by 39 percent, from $126,400 in 2007 to $77,300 in 2010.

The Washington Post (June 11, 2012) noted that during that time, homeownership went largely from being a “pathway to wealth” for many Americans to being an albatross.

But consider what candidate Obama promised in 2008 about the positive changes, including financial ones, he would bring to an ailing country:

  • “It is that promise that has always set this country apart — that through hard work and sacrifice, each of us can pursue our individual dreams but still come together as one American family, to ensure that the next generation can pursue their dreams as well. That’s why I stand here tonight” (acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention, August 28, 2008, Denver).
  • “Our government should work for us, not against us. It should help us, not hurt us. It should ensure opportunity not just for those with the most money and influence, but for every American who’s willing to work” (same).
  • “In one week, you can choose policies that invest in our middle class, create new jobs, and grow this economy, from the bottom-up so that everyone has a chance to succeed; from the CEO to the secretary and the janitor; from the factory owner to the men and women who work on its floor” (October 27, 2008, Canton, Ohio).
  • “In one week, at this defining moment in history, you can give this country the change we need” (same).
  • “The question in this election is not ‘Are you better off than you were four years ago?’ We know the answer to that. The real question is ‘Will this country be better off four years from now?’ … In one week, we can choose an economy that rewards work and creates new jobs and fuels prosperity from the bottom-up” (same).
  • “It is time to protect the jobs we have and to create the jobs of tomorrow by unlocking the drive, and ingenuity, and innovation of the American people. … This country and the dream it represents are being tested in a way that we haven’t seen in nearly a century. And future generations will judge ours by how we respond to this test. Will they say that this was a time when America lost its way and its purpose? When we allowed our own petty differences and broken politics to plunge this country into a dark and painful recession?” (October 21, 2008).
  • “The money you’ve been putting away for your retirement or your kids’ college education is disappearing faster than you can count. The dream that so many generations have fought for feels like it’s slowly slipping away. But I’m here today to tell you that there are better days ahead. … I know that we can steer ourselves out of this crisis” (October 8, 2008, Indianapolis).

In the midst of the early days of the recent economic turmoil, he presented himself as the solution to the crisis that began under Bush, but that he was going to solve. He said on Super Tuesday 2008 in Chicago, “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for” [raucous applause] (February 19, 2008). During the campaign, some even likened Obama to a Messianic figure, even jokingly referring to him as having been born in Bethlehem.

Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve’s recent report points out the obvious: “Recovery from the so-called Great Recession has also been particularly slow.”

No politician is perfect, and politicians are bound to make more promises than they can possibly keep. But when you compare the promises with the reality, it’s hard to see any reality in that statement: “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.”

The Good Book says that pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall. The only real Messiah I know of was born in Bethlehem 2,000 years ago.