By John W. Lillpop
Everyone who can recall that presidential candidate Barack Obama promised to bring profound CHANGE to America if entrusted with the U.S. presidency, please raise your left hand.
How many also recall that Obama was relentless in promising to clean up issues involving earmarks, transparency, lobbyists, and signing statements?
Notwithstanding the lofty promises made by the darling of the leftist media, with just over 50 days in the pressure-packed Fish Bowl that is the White House, the greatest change that President Obama has delivered so far is to change his mind on some of that high- minded double talk that got him elected to begin with.
For instance, with respect to earmarks, candidate Obama said the following, in part, to John McCain during one of the presidential debates:
"And, absolutely, we need earmark reform. And when I'm president, I will go line by line to make sure that we are not spending money unwisely."
Fast forward to March 10, 2009.
On this date, President Obama signed a $410 Omnibus spending monster, which included thousands of "ear marks."
As reported in Yahoo News, in part:
"President Barack Obama, sounding weary of criticism over federal earmarks, defended Congress' pet projects Wednesday as he signed an 'imperfect' $410 billion measure with thousands of examples. But he said the spending does need tighter restraint and listed guidelines to do it."
So, earmarks are a major no-no, unless a Democrat president decides they are necessary as part of an "imperfect" bill passed by a spend-crazy Democrat- majority Congress?
Sounds fair and balanced, right? In nations like Venezuela and Cuba, perhaps, where dictators are all the rage.
Note, please, that President Obama signed the ominous Omnibus bill in closed door privacy.
This is in sharp contrast to other Obama signings, which have been widely and wildly promoted throughout all communications media as evidence of the fact that this president has not abandoned his responsibilities as commander-in-chief in order to play PORK on the White House basketball hoops.
Perhaps in the case of the ominous Omnibus, the president panicked about having his blatant hypocrisy exposed openly, and decided to forego the handshakes, champagne, and roses customary when a gang of corrupt liberals has succeeded in ripping off the American public?
Which takes us to candidate Obama's roaring oratory about transparency. The notion that any politician, especially one from South Chicago, would actually promote openness and transparency is truly mind-boggling.
As reported at Fox News, President Obama's commitment to transparency should be put under the microscope in light of how the administration has thus far handled the issue:
"Transparency was a watchword of President Obama's campaign.
But 50 days into his administration, the new president is still struggling to live up to his pledge to hold himself to what he called 'a new standard of openness.'
Already, the administration has violated a campaign promise to post bills ready for Obama's signature online for five full days before they become law.
In three cases, Obama signed legislation well within that window -- with a fair-pay law, an expansion of health insurance for children and the $787 billion economic stimulus package.
Melanie Sloan, director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, said it's too early to give Obama a clear grade on transparency.
'Have they done it right on every occasion? Clearly, no,' she said. 'They seem to be making an effort.'
The White House argues it's opened up serious policy discussions to the public, holding recent summits on fiscal responsibility and health care reform. The White House even posted streaming video on its Web site and created a separate site to track stimulus spending.
But there have been other transparency misfires.
After saying that lobbyists would be mostly barred from working in the Obama White House, the administration hadn't disclosed how many lobbyists made their way into top posts until now. The administration identified three officials Tuesday night who received waivers for their lobbying work. They are Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn; Jocelyn Frye, senior official for first lady Michelle Obama, and Cecilia Munoz, director of governmental affairs.
Then there was the do-over swearing-in ceremony, which only a few reporters were allowed to attend.
Chief Justice John Roberts administered the second oath the day after Inauguration Day, following some complaints that he flubbed the oath the day before. The White House allowed just four print reporters to attend and released a picture by the official White House photographer.
Reporters complained to White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, who defended the decision to limit their numbers by arguing that there was no need for a big formal event, since the second oath was done out of an 'abundance of caution' and nothing more.
Gibbs said at the time the oath was handled in a way that was 'up front and transparent.'
But the biggest question over transparency is yet to be answered -- whether the public will ever learn which banks received bailout billions, and how much the government paid for certain assets.
Recently, Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders demanded Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke lift the veil on that issue.
'Tell us who they are,' the senator told Bernanke.
'No, because the reason that it's counterproductive and will destroy the value of the program is that banks will not come,' Bernanke said.
'Well isn't that too bad,' Sanders said.
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has promised to open up the bailout process. But like the Federal Reserve, the Treasury Department does not want to name banks.
Sloan said this is a litmus test for Obama's commitment to transparency.
'It's taxpayer dollars, and we as taxpayers then have a right to know where that money is going,' she said. 'And I just can't understand why there should be any secrecy about that.'
A top treasury official recently told Congress that the department couldn't adequately price the assets it bought in the first phase of the bailout. Republicans, though, say the software exists to do it and that taxpayers deserve to know.
Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., plans to press the Treasury Department to use available software to track asset prices and the flow of bailout dollars. He and other lawmakers say the issue is not just a test of transparency but also a potential key to reviving economic confidence."
Candidate Obama's self-righteous remarks about signing statements sent thrills running up and down the legs of dim wit liberals everywhere when he said the following, in part, during the campaign:
" 'The problem with this administration is that it has attached signing statements to legislation in an effort to change the meaning of the legislation, to avoid enforcing certain provisions of the legislation that the President does not like, and to raise implausible or dubious constitutional objections to the legislation,' Obama answered. But, he added: 'No one doubts that it is appropriate to use signing statements to protect a president's constitutional prerogatives.' "
Nonetheless, President Obama resorted to a signing statement himself as reported by Google News, in part:
"Two days after criticizing his predecessor for issuing guidelines on how to put legislation into practice, President Barack Obama issued such a directive himself.
Out of public view Wednesday, Obama signed a $410 billion spending bill that includes billions for items known as earmarks, the targeted spending that lawmakers direct to projects in their districts. Obama promised during the presidential campaign to curb such spending.
He also issued a 'signing statement' in which he objected to provisions of the bill that he said the Justice Department had advised 'raise constitutional concerns.' Among them are provisions that Obama said would 'unduly interfere' with his authority in the foreign affairs arena by directing him how to proceed, or not to, in negotiations and discussions with international organizations and foreign governments.
Another provision, Obama said, would limit his discretion to choose who performs specific functions in military missions."
Once again, a policy matter executed by a Republican president is evil, or worse, and a perfect candidate for CHANGE, but is perfectly fine when a Democrat president does the same!