“Obama Flip-Flops on His Own Record”

That’s how Byron York headlines his own shrewd observation: President Obama can’t keep his story straight when it comes to evaluating his own legislative record:

In his speech at a Denver fundraiser yesterday, President Obama repeated what has become a key talking point for Democrats — that the Senate “doesn’t get anything done” and the reason for that is that some Republicans, who “don’t believe in government,” are happy to block the administration’s initiatives because blocking government initiatives is “consistent with their philosophy.” … It’s a charge you’ll no doubt hear more in the coming campaign. But it’s a striking flip-flop from Obama’s earlier statements in which he praised Congress’ ability to get things done. As a matter of fact, at a DNC fundraiser in California last October, Obama said his administration and Congress had accomplished so much that, “If we stopped today, this legislative session would have been one of the most productive in a generation.”

Byron notes, too, that the White House web site includes a long list of the administration’s legislative achievements. How to reconcile the contradiction?

The fact is, when you hear the president and Democrats in Congress complain about not being able to get anything done, or about Washington being broken, they’re talking about one thing: their inability to pass a national health care reform bill. Congress can do, and is doing, lots of things — just not sprawling, omnibus “comprehensive” bills that are unpopular with the American people. (The same can be said for cap-and-trade legislation, now dead in the Senate.) If you put aside enormous bills that would re-order the American economy in ways the public does not want, Congress can do things just fine.

In my view, there is something a bit sinister about the petulance with which Democratic leaders bewail their inability to compel their own members to vote for legislation that is massively unpopular with the American people. This is, after all, a democracy.


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