Monday, January 19, 2009

Obama & Responsibility

When Barack Obama takes the oath of office in less than 12 hours from now he will reportedly emphasize personal responsibility. Very clever. He is making some effort to give conservatives lip service. I'll give him that.

Speaking at a high school in Washington, D.C. today Obama said, "I am making a commitment to you as the next President, that we are going to make government work. But I can't do it myself. Michelle can't do it by herself. Govenment can only do so much. We're going to have to take responsibility - all of us. If we're waiting for someone to do something, it never gets done."

There is a kernel of truth in there. Even the superhuman Obama cannot be everywhere. Government cannot solve all problems. We have to make commitments and stick to them.

On the other hand, when Obama says that he cannot do it all by himself he says what every high school student council president says after being elected. They expect everyone else to take responsibility but their own personal responsibility is above their pay grade.

Those words could come back to haunt Obama if things fall short and he points fingers at Bush, Sarah Palin or other Republicans. Palin emphasized "personal responsibility" in her debate with Joe Biden. If Palin runs against him in 2012 she could remind him in their debate, "You called for an era of responsibility and yet you refuse to take responsibility for your policies. Everything that goes wrong is always someone else's fault and not yours. That's not taking responsibility, Mr. President."

That could be up there with Reagan telling Carter, "Well, there you go again."

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