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Attack and Blame

Frankly, it has been a tough week. I apologize in advance if my tone is downbeat. Inauguration Day, that symbol of the orderly transfer of power that makes American democracy so unique in history, has normally been an occasion of civic pomp and circumstance, when even the losing side can feel good about the new beginning, new hope, new term.

Not so this year. The spectacle is a vivid reminder that our country is bitterly divided, and much of that division rests squarely with the man who promised Hope and Change but won re-election with Attack and Blame.

The re-coronation of President Obama is more an exercise in cynicism than a renewal of national spirit. Obama’s vaunted Inaugural Address is case in point. He was not even finished speaking when the partisan media were comparing his speech with those of Abraham Lincoln.

I am not buying it. The difference between Obama and Lincoln is that Lincoln actually believed what he was saying. With Obama, it is all the politics of division. In addition to the divide between his lofty rhetoric and reality, there is the growing proof that what Obama says is not what he intends to do.

It is hard to take the president’s words seriously, when they betray such unseriousness regarding the big issues we face. His inaugural speech may have been the best combination of words known to the English language, but they matter not if they are meaningless against Obama’s record and “forward” intentions.

Consider what Obama said in March 2006 about the debt ceiling, when he voted against raising it. Bear with me. It is worth letting Obama’s words then sink in against today’s reality:

“The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. Government can’t pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our government’s reckless fiscal policies.

“[From 2001 to 2006], our federal debt has increased by $3.5 trillion to $8.6 trillion. That is ‘trillion’ with a ‘T.’ That is money that we have borrowed from the Social Security trust fund, borrowed from China and Japan, borrowed from American taxpayers. . . .

“Numbers that large are sometimes hard to understand. Some people may wonder why they matter. Here is why: In 2006, the federal government will spend $220 billion on interest. That is more money to pay interest on our national debt than we’ll spend on Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. That is more money to pay interest on our debt this year than we will spend on education, homeland security, transportation, and veterans benefits combined. It is more money in one year than we are likely to spend to rebuild the devastated Gulf Coast in a way that honors the best of America.

“And the cost of our debt is one of the fastest growing expenses in the federal budget. This rising debt is a hidden domestic enemy, robbing our cities and states of critical investments in infrastructure like bridges, ports, and levees; robbing our families and our children of critical investments in education and health care reform; robbing our seniors of the retirement and health security they have counted on .

“Increasing America’s debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that ‘the buck stops here.’ Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better.”

Then Senator Barack Obama clearly understood that out of control spending meant certain ruin for the country. Back then, it was all Bush’s fault. Since, Obama has almost doubled the 2006 debt level, and is ready to pillory Republicans for even debating his demand for a higher limit. Indeed, Obama wants Congress just to give him sole authority to raise the debt ceiling as he deems fit.

How to explain such rank hypocrisy? In an April 2011 interview with George Stephanopoulos, Obama barely bothered, telling ABC News that his opposition to the debt increase “was just an example of a new senator making what is a political vote . . . .”

In other words, on the gaping issue that threatens to destroy our children’s future, Obama’s position was just expendable political posturing. Forgive me for not paying attention on Inauguration Day, but it is more of the same.

Cory T. Wilson is a Moss Point native and Madison attorney with Heidelberg Steinberger Colmer & Burrow, P.A. Follow Cory on Twitter, @CoryWilsonMS, or email cory@corywilson.ms.

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