“How do you know if a politician is lying?” the tired old joke begins. “His lips are moving.” More social commentary than humor, such jabs reveal that Americans have generally come to terms with being lied to.
In 2008, millions of Americans went to the polls and voted for “Hope” and “Change,” only to find that hope and change, left undefined, can be far more frightening than politics as usual.
One of Obama’s many campaign promises included greater transparency of government activity. He promises that Americans would have five days to look over legislation that made it to his desk. His 2008 campaign website claimed, “As president, Obama will not sign any non-emergency bill without giving the American public an opportunity to review and comment on the White House website for five days.”
Promise broken. As Jim Harper of the Cato Institute pointed out back in 2009, Obama broke this promise after just nine days in office and has been breaking it ever since.
One significant move he made early on, however, seemed to indicate that he would keep his word. In one of his earliest presidential acts, Obama revoked an executive order from former President George W. Bush that would have sealed parts of his presidential record.
Now, in a shockingly ironic and contradictory twist, Democrats have introduced the “Presidential Records Act Amendments of 2011” (H.R. 3071. IH). The act, if passed, would provide President Obama with the same “selective sealing” privilege Bush tried to give himself.
President Obama promised changed when he was still a candidate and he delivered.
- He changed from a man who wanted us out of Iraq and Afghanistan to a man who sent more troops into both nations – not counting his actions in Pakistan, Libya, and Egypt.
- He changed from a man who wanted to close Guantanamo Bay, arguing that even those detainees had a right to due process, to a man who would kill American citizens without any semblance of due process.
- He changed from a man who promised bi-partisanship to a man who would ram through even the most controversial legislation as quickly as possible while he had congressional majorities – Obamacare and the Recovery Act are the two most obvious examples.
- He changed from a man who promised to improve America’s foreign policy and relationships abroad to a man who has caused more tension with Pakistan, Yemen, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, and Israel.
- And, he has changed from a man who promised unparalleled transparency in his government to a man who does everything behind closed doors; now with his own party attempting to seal parts of his presidential record.
John Adams said:
“Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people, who have a right, from the frame of their nature, to knowledge, as their great Creator, who does nothing in vain, has given them understandings, and a desire to know; but besides this, they have a right, an indisputable, unalienable, indefeasible, divine right to that most dreaded and envied kind of knowledge; I mean, of the characters and conduct of their rulers.”