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Was The Obama Campaign A Lie?

Harper's publisher John R. MacArthur, writing in the Providence Journal, says that President Obama misled the American people:

IT ISN’T QUITE FAIR to call Barack Obama a liar. During the campaign he carefully avoided committing to much of anything important that he might have to take back later. For now, I won’t quibble with The St. Petersburg Times’s Obamameter, which so far has the president keeping 30 promises and breaking only six.

And yet, broadly speaking, Obama has been lying on a pretty impressive scale.

MacAurthur goes on to list Obama's "lies." He provides four examples. The list is worth going through. First:

Obama portrayed himself as the peace candidate, or at least the anti-war candidate. He is not a peace president, nor is he stopping any wars. True, he promised military escalation in Afghanistan (to blunt John McCain’s accusations of wimpishness), but well-meaning folks believed their new hero would genuinely move to end the occupation of Iraq and seriously try to negotiate with the Taliban.

In other words, Obama said he would send more troops to Afghanistan, and some naive lefties chose to believe he was lying, so now that's he's following through, it counts as a lie because "well-meaning" people like MacArthur never believed it. Oookay.


Obama said he wanted to reform Washington and “fix” its “broken” system of corrupt lobbying. But Obama is neither a reformer nor a skilled legislative mechanic. Hatched from the Daley Machine in one-party Chicago, Obama wouldn’t be president today if he rocked boats. Witness the appointment of Roland Burris by the corrupt former Gov. Rod Blagojevich to fill Obama’s Senate seat: not a word of public protest from the new administration because Burris is a made man in the Chicago Democratic organization.

So, Obama promised to be a reformer, but he lied because it turns out he's from Chicago. I'm pretty sure he admitted that fact during the campaign. I also fail to recall Obama promising to insert himself into the appointment of a replacement Senator from Illinois.

Lie #3:

Obama, with his Arabic middle name and his big Cairo speech, wants people to think that he is the Muslim world’s new best friend. Well, the photograph of a cheery Obama with Saudi King Abdullah and a smiling Emanuel with Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal, proves the contrary. ... Indeed, the president doesn’t mean for one minute to force Israel into anything more than symbolic withdrawals of its illegal settlements on the West Bank.

Did Obama promise to cut ties with Saudi Arabia and do more to pressure Israel than to demand a halt to settlement construction? I must have missed that as well.

And the final "lie":

Obama makes like he’s a friend of organized labor, at least he did during the Ohio primary when he needed to beat Hillary Clinton. ...

In a debate with Clinton on Feb. 26, 2008, he said, “I will make sure that we renegotiate [NAFTA] in the same way that Senator Clinton talked about” and “use the hammer of a potential opt-out as leverage” to get “labor and environmental standards that are enforced.”

But two months ago, U.S. Trade Rep. Ron Kirk said such a blunt instrument was no longer necessary and that the leaders of Canada, the U.S. and Mexico were now “of the mind that we should be looking for opportunities to strengthen [the North American Free Trade Agreement].”

Meanwhile, as I noted in my April 15 column, “Wall Street sharks circle the UAW,” Obama and his banker friend Steven Rattner are liquidating the United Auto Workers even as they liquidate the American auto industry.

The NAFTA renegotiation flip-flop is legit, but was pointed out long before the 2008 general election. MacArthur's claim that Obama is liquidating the auto industry is bizarre.

--Jonathan Chait