Yes, Obama Said That. Here’s Why He’s Not A Hypocrite.

A Tea Party-supporting reader who prefers I not name her challenged me to respond to this quote by then-Senator Barack Obama. I’ll give my thoughts, briefly, before I turn to the upcoming Douglas Wilson-Mark Driscoll symposium on all things true, good, beautiful and totally macho.

Here’s the quote:

“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 not 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. 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.”– Senator Barack H. Obama, March 2006

I’m reminded of a bumpersticker I saw once that had a smiling George W. Bush saying, “Hey, it was all my fault, but thanks for blaming the black guy!” Way too simplistic, but not too terribly far off the mark.

Here’s my response to my correspondent:

Obama’s speech above is not something I find terribly odd or offensive or inconsistent with his current position. Do you not recall that he made this comment in the midst of the George W. Bush debacle, eight years of spending-gone-wild on two failed wars, one so poorly planned as to border on criminal, the other criminally sold to the American people through the proliferation of lies, deceit, and obfuscation. Why wouldn’t Senator Obama object to the rampant debt OF THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION that fostered the need for a raising of the debt ceiling?

I don’t believe he voted against it AT RISK OF GOVERNMENT DEFAULT, and it’s pretty common — I’ll grant you this — that in the numerous “raisings of the debt ceiling,” the party of the president votes to do it (that would be the GOP, which was largely in favor this time around of raising the debt ceiling, except for the Tea Party), and the party not holding the White House votes NOT to do it. If you want to accuse Obama of objecting to the debate over raising the debt ceiling in 2006, and then calling for it in 2011, go ahead — but remember the times (Bush’s taking a surplus and running us trillions into the ground with his tax cuts and warmongering), and remember the stakes (this year, a potential government default at a time of worldwide recession). It’s a sign of political expediency, perhaps, but only if the circumstances are equal — and here, they’re not.

Frankly, only an immature, blinded, misinformed crank would hold to a position, regardless of changes that affect it, just so he/she can be called “consistent.” I don’t believe Barack Obama is an immature, blinded, misinformed crank. I do believe many of the Tea Party leaders are.

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