Less than 15 hours after President Barack Obama promised a three-year freeze on nondefense discretionary spending, Senate Democrats went and killed the dream. With their 43 “no” votes, they blocked a bipartisan provision on Thursday that would have allowed only 1 percent spending growth in the categories Obama intended.
Without even giving Republicans a chance, congressional Democrats have repudiated not only the president’s spending freeze and his call for fiscal responsibility, but also nearly every positive hope he expressed in his State of the Union address for change in Washington, D.C.
For example, Obama called for an end to obstruction of anything that can’t get 60 votes in the Senate. He also denounced the “perpetual campaign” into which American politics has devolved. But by blocking a bipartisan spending freeze that could get only 56 Senate votes, liberals in Congress have ensured that the next nine months will be a perpetual campaign.
With both House and Senate Democrats fearing the unemployment line, the likelihood of controversial legislation passing Congress in this election year decreases with each passing day. Obama’s hopes for health care reform are flat-lining. His bid for a second stimulus package becomes much more difficult. His chances of passing carbon limitations are smaller still.
This ultimately works to the benefit of Americans, who are not thrilled with that legislation anyway. The moral of the story is that even the cleverest orator has limits when it comes to selling bad policy.
A smaller lesson is that Obama, vaunted speaker that he is, cannot motivate people to action the way he could in 2008, when the public’s patience waned for his predecessor.
Back then, Obama’s sweet words about a “new politics” struck a real chord. Even if, as he said Wednesday, he “never thought that the mere fact of my election would usher in peace and harmony, and some post-partisan era,” he sold that very idea to millions quite easily.
Today, as the election buzzwords “hope” and “change” take the form of ambitious left-wing policy items, no one is buying anymore. The same Obamian rhetoric that once moved millions has become like an overplayed pop single, soon to be removed from voters’ playlists.
David Freddoso is The Examiner’s online opinion editor.