Thursday, January 28, 2010

A question of trust

It’s a given that all politicians lie at one time or another. Americans generally don’t expect our politicians to be truthful on small matters. What we want is leadership we can trust to do the right things, who will tell us the truth on the issues that matter.
Nixon still had the support of a majority of Americans until he admitted he had lied, repeatedly, about Watergate. A week later he resigned.
Most Americans didn’t much care about Bill Clinton’s philandering, or even his perjury. But his weasel words on the meaning of the word “is” permanently damaged whatever trust he had left with the public. Clinton was lucky: he never had to speak to the country on an occasion like 9-11 or Katrina.
I never shared and don’t understand the deep dislike of George W. Bush that developed in the last few years of his Presidency, but I suspect a lot of it stemmed from a growing lack of trust. More and more people doubted that he could be believed, or be trusted to do the right thing.
Reagan, even when it was clear that he had been deceptive (Iran Contra) never lost the people’s trust. Conversely, most Americans in 1980 probably still believed that Jimmy Carter would never lie to them. But they no longer trusted him to make the right decisions.
Obama has shown a consistent habit of breaking promises and stretching the truth. He attended Jeremiah Wright’s church for 20 years but never heard Wright’s more incendiary comments. Bill Ayers was just a guy in the neighborhood. Obama’s government will be open and transparent, with bills posted on the web before they are voted on and Congressional negotiations on C-Span.
The Dianne Sawyer interview is the latest. Does he seriously expect us to believe that he would rather be a good one term President than a mediocre two term President?

I read this as a slap at W and Bill Clinton. But my fear is that, in the not too distant future, Obama will need Americans to trust him to make really hard decisions, to believe him when he speaks to the country in a moment of crisis. And we will need to trust that we have a leader who has the depth, wisdom, and maturity- and the smart advisors- to make hard decisions. A year in, I do not have that confidence in him, and I fear what will happen in a real crisis.

Carter lost the public’s trust after malaise, cardigan sweaters, the Iran embassy takeover, and the Russian invasion of Afghanistan. He wasn’t dealing with attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Napolitano said after the Christmas Day near miss that ”the system worked.” Eric Holder wants to try terrorists in New York City, and reads Abdelmotallab his Miranda rights. This is thunder from a distant but approaching storm. More than just trouble for the Democrats in November 2010, no matter how much or in what direction Obama pivots, it bodes trouble for all of us.

I wrote this before the SOTU. Nothing to change. I'll just add a quote from a comment over at Tigerhawk:
This POTUS is a dangerously disingenuous dilettante and a growing disgrace to the office.

Damn, I wish I'd said that.

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