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Obama's "Read My Lips" Moment That No One Cares About

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Almost thirty years after he took office, George HW Bush is still remembered as a weak-willed moderate because of six words in his inaugural address: “Read my lips: no new taxes.


Bush pledged not to raise taxes no matter how much his Democratic Congress demanded it. Just two years later he reluctantly agreed to a budget deal that raised gas taxes and the top income tax rate. His approval rating and overall image never recovered.

President Obama made a similarly strong and explicit pledge, but on a much more vital issue. Beginning in August 2013, as hawks were begging for the US to intervene in the Syrian civil war, Obama said that there would be no “boots on the ground” there.

Over the last two years, Obama has repeated his pledge to not put boots on the ground, aka ground troops, in Syria. Yet just one month ago, he sent 50 Special Operations forces to “advise and assist”. He continued to maintain that there would be no “boots on the ground” even after he sent boots on the ground, moving the goalposts to insist he meant no “battalions and occupations”, not no ground troops at all.

Now the Pentagon is considering sending 50 more of our best and brightest to Syria if the initial 50 are “showing signs of progress”, even though the Pentagon won’t even confirm that they are there yet.

Obama’s pledge not to send our sons and daughters to fight a foreign civil war is much more important than a pledge to not raise taxes, and his violation of that pledge is much more damning. But no one seems to care. Sure, it’s been pointed out by the media plenty, but it hasn’t changed his image or sunk his approval ratings.

He’s still maligned by the same civil libertarians and non-interventionists that were always critical of him once the post-inaugural bloom came off the rose. But he’s still adored by the mainstream left and middle that had supposedly become so weary of war after Iraq and Afghanistan, which ironically was a factor in his election.

I guess people don’t really care if a president lies to get us into war, as long as it’s a really small one.


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