Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Over-Promiser In Chief

One of the first things you learn in dealing with other people is that over-promising is a horrible idea. Humans judge value based on expectation versus reality. If you are promised five dollars and you get five dollars, then you see yourself as having been treated fairly and you are satisfied. If you get ten dollars, then you are very happy. If you get less than five dollars, then you’ve been cheated. Obama hasn’t learned this lesson. Indeed, he has a history of promising way more than he can deliver, and he never seems to learn from his mistakes.

Obama has a history of over-promising. You might recall such laughers as “95% of Americans will see their taxes cut.” Uh huh. That didn’t happen. Indeed, sixty percent are seeing their taxes go up. He would close Gitmo by the end of his first year, change our relationship with China, stop Iran’s nuclear program, stop global warming, bring us together racially, and part the seas. Remember how none of that happened?

What made each of these instances all the stranger was that he could have promised something lesser and arguably kept his promises. But he felt the need to make the BIG PROMISE each time. He wouldn’t just “fix” something, he would “fix for all time.” This almost makes him a pathological over-promiser.

But these were campaign promises and people don’t really expect those to be kept right? Actually, they do. But let’s leave that aside for today, because his pattern continued after he took office.

Do you recall the stimulus? The majority of Americans were prepared to accept the need for a stimulus package, so selling it should have been easy. But Obama strangely felt that he needed to way over-sell it. So he promised that it would create millions of jobs. It didn’t. Indeed, it couldn’t. But he didn’t admit that, even after it became obvious that his promise had been false. Instead, he reformulated his promise as “save or create” and then he doubled down on his overpromises. Hang tight, millions of jobs coming up any moment. Of course, they didn’t come. So he scrambled to come up with jobs, which became a national joke when people started playing “spot the fake job in the fake district.” Even the media ultimately admitted that this turned into a disaster for the administration.

The recession ended in March. . . no May. . . no July. . . no November. We would have positive job growth in August. . . no November. . . no December. . . no March. . . no April.

So what did he learn? Nothing. When it became obvious that Copenhagen would produce nothing but hot air, Obama sprang into action and promised to rescue the conference and save the world from global warming. That didn’t happen. Instead, he ended up cutting some non-deal deal. When his environmentalist supporters turned on him because of his broken promises, he tried to deflect that by promising that he would soon push through cap and trade and thereby save the world. That didn’t happen either. So once again, his way-over-the-top promises came crashing down.

He had a deal to get sanctions on Iran, even China agreed!. . . would agree. . . might agree. . . is considering. . . might not stand in the way of. Oh, and now Brazil is backing out as well. At least the Russians agreed not to keep building Iran a nuclear reactor.

But he's learning to be more careful with his promises, right? No. Instead, he set about creating a series of elaborate over-promises with health care. He didn’t promise that he would extend coverage to some poor Americans, that he would cut a few costs, or that he would improve the quality of care. No. That wouldn’t be grandiose enough. Instead, he promised “universal care.” He promised he would cut costs so much that it would save the country, the treasury, the budget, etc. etc. He promised that medicine would be cheaper and better and we could all keep our current plans. He promised doctors more money under Medicare. And he promised that all of this would happen the minute they passed the bill.

So they passed the bill. And nothing happened, and soon people started questioning his promises. So he doubled down. He even sent Axelrod out to lie about the start date of all the benefits, assuring us that it was just a Republican “myth” that most of the benefits wouldn’t kick in for years.

But these lies are easily disproved. And within a week, after his “bounce” had faded and with public anger growing, the media began to question the bill. Indeed, in the past week, the media has discovered that: (1) Medical costs will go up for all Americans. (2) The doctor’s fix is stalled in Congress -- and it will blow Obama’s deficit promise out of the water when it finally does pass. (3) Most of the benefits don’t take effect until 2014 or later, no matter what Axelrod promised. (4) Companies are dropping their plans, despite Obama’s assurances. (5) Doctors are dropping out of Medicare at a record rate. (6) This “universal coverage” is neither universal, nor coverage, as 22 million Americans are expected to pay fines rather than buy coverage.

So how does Obama respond? “Hey, it’s only been a week, some of this stuff won’t happen for years.” Funny, that’s not what he promised.

What’s interesting to me about all of this is that Obama has expended virtually no effort to do the things he wants to do the right way in the first place. Instead, he just takes whatever is available and he sells it with a series of grandiose and obviously false promises. He is the car salesman trying to pass off the 1984 Yugo as the 2010 Rolls Royce.

In all honesty, this makes little sense. The public was willing to buy much of what he wanted to sell. But somehow that wasn’t good enough for him: he wanted to dazzle them. You could call it inexperience, except that he never seems to learn from his mistakes. So it seems more to be a personality defect than an experience gap. Indeed, I suspect it's ego, he wants to be the savior that everyone told him he was.

In any event, by trying to be a rock star and dazzle the public rather than dealing with the public fairly, Obama has discredited himself. He's converted himself from the principled politician who was going to do some unpleasant things that he felt had to be done into President False-Promise whose programs can’t be trusted.

Not smart.


JB1000 said...

I wonder if the Obama's problem is that he is convinced he can talk anyone into anything. The media and the Democrats all tell him he is the greatest speechmaker since Lincoln and he has bought into their BS.

This could explain the treatment of Britian and other allies. Obama thinks he does not need to treat them like allies because he can talk them into doing whatever he needs them to do, when he needs them to do it.

When he approaches something he knows people will resist, he has to over-promise. Over-promising will convince some people and Obama's selective perception will do the rest. That's how he can stand before a camera and state that most americans want Obamacare.

It also may explain his reaction to others actions. He convinces himself that he talked the Russians into sanctions on Iran then he's surprised when Putin does nothing. He is convinced the Isrealis are doing what he wants then he's shocked when they build homes in the Jewish section of Jerusalem. Once he has talked to them, there is no 'rational' reason for them to do anything but what Obama wants.

StanH said...

It’s the old Southern adage of “he’d climb a tree to tell a lie, when he could tell the truth standing on the ground.” The dangerous part is he believes his own billing traipsing around the world peddling his BS, and taking to the airwaves “daily” with obvious drivel, he is fast becoming caricature of himself. “Look everyone it’s the Boy King he speaks,” and in his mind the public falls to their knees to hear his wisdom. Instead people are pointing and laughing, and that can be dangerous, for our great country. Great read Andrew, and true!

wahsatchmo said...

It's interesting how much we're all examining Obama's personality traits of late; Roger Simon, Victor Davis Hanson, Neo-Neocon, Instapunk, and several others are all trying to find a way to reconcile the man to his actions, and we're finding it to be a much easier and a vastly more frightening process than we anticipated.

Hannity likes to call Obama a radical, but that's not exactly correct, because nothing that Obama is doing is remotely new. Every one of his policies has been tried and failed in either this country or another nation state at least once anywhere from 20 to 80 years ago. It's pointless to think that Obama's agenda has any roots in history, because it's vastly more childish than that.

Obama's agenda, simply put, is the abdication of responsibility in all facets of American life.

His foreign policy seeks to withdraw America from a position of prominence with our allies and from a position of deterrence to our enemies. His domestic policy seeks to encourage dependence on the state, and remove the responsibility for our own self-determination. His fiscal policies seek to transfer private wealth to the state to be doled out in whatever fashion his czars deem fair. His expansion of the executive branch seeks to remove Congress from the responsibility of passing legislation, and his efforts to ensure a permanent one-party rule either by census manipulation (which, thank ACORN, may have been thwarted) or by vast amnesty (which may not be thwarted) seek to remove the need to make a distinction among candidates when voting. The revival of the Fairness Doctrine and new efforts by the FCC seek to control dissenting voices, so that dissonant thoughts will be but a mild buzz in our memories.

Obama's agenda is for all Americans to curl up in the fetal position and dream of happy times in our mothers' wombs, free of the worry of responsibilities. I understand why Obama thinks this: someone's always stepped in to make sure he's been looked after, and he's never had to do a damned thing in exchange. He just figures someone else will do the same for America if we concede with him to give up on the world and ourselves.

Unknown said...

Andrew: Only the finest of liars can overpromise so grandiloquently, so blatantly, so smoothly, and so exponentially. But he lacks the remaining trait of a good liar--he isn't convincing. You have to make your buyers believe that the snake-oil really will cure you. Nobody outside the DailyKos and the HuffPo believes any of his snake-oil health care lies. The rest of us wouldn't believe him if he told us the sun came up this morning.

AndrewPrice said...

JB, I think there is something to that. I think Obama really does believe that he can talk anyone into anything, and that seems to have created two problems. First, it makes him indifferent to the actual quality of what he is selling -- which make his sales job all the harder. And secondly, as you note, it makes him very angry when people don't seem to fall for his charm. In fact, he does seem extremely surprised when people like the Russians, the Chinese, the Israeli's, etc. don't do what he wants. It's almost like he can't understand why anyone would not do what he wants, and he doesn't know how to handle rejection.

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Stan! I never heard that expression before, about the tree, but it's positively brilliant! That is absolutely Obama, he seems to go out of his way to add lies and overpromises to everything he says. There's no reason for it, but he keeps doing it, and it just makes it worse for him when the lies are exposed.

AndrewPrice said...

wasatchmo, I don't know what to add to that. Very well analyzed. Everything he's done has been an attempt to take responsibility away from people and states and businesses and institutions and to hand it all to the federal government. And I think you make an excellent point in attributing this to his past. Looking at his resume, it's fairly clear that where ever he went, someone took care of him and pushed him along without ever asking him to do anything. That's why I put no faith in his having gone to Harvard: there's no indication that he did anything more than ride along as people pushed him through. It also explains why things are going so wrong for him now, because he's never once had to deal with any sort of rejection -- he just doesn't know how to handle it.

AndrewPrice said...

P.S. wasatchmo, In terms of analyzing his personality, I think it's human nature to try to understand what is going on when people act in ways that don't make sense.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, That's true. Anyone can lie, but few can lie well. A more talented politician (like Bill Clinton) knew just how far he could stretch the truth, when to get fuzzy about his promises, and how to say things without ever saying them. Obama has none of those skills.

CrisD said...

President Obama gained momentem during his election when he finally convinced the black population that he was "one of them." Remember that it took a bit of selling to give him "street cred." Leftists adopted him as the reparations candidate and moderate Democrats voted him in to assuage their white guilt and publically declared him "clean and articulate."
He must always play to his black base and leftist professors and so in all things and at all times he must be their savior and provider.

Sadly, this has nothing to do with the American way but instead appeals to a subculture that is well documented in Sociology books.

AndrewPrice said...

CrisD, You're right, he bends over backwards to retain his "cred" with his primary audiences, which appear to be blacks, college radicals, and union thugs. In fact, there are times I wonder if that's all he's concerned about?

wahsatchmo said...

Andrew, excellent postscript, and excellent post (and apologies for reusing adjectives and adverbs in my previous post. I tend to do that when I don’t proofread). That’s exactly what many of us are doing: using a bit of psychoanalysis to try to make sense of the nonsensical. And in the meantime, Jeff Goldstein of Protein Wisdom slowly shakes his head, because we’re trying to derive Obama’s intention when leftists deliberately misinterpret ours in order to control and pervert our language to fit their will.

I feel like we’re Charlie Brown, and Pelosi and her ilk are Lucy with the football. Yet it’s no longer a football, it’s the fate of the free world and liberty. And now we have spectators, many of whom have bet upon the other side and who look forward to stealing the football from Lucy once she’s stolen it from us.

And Obama might be Linus, with his security blanket, if it weren’t for his petulance, propensity for prevarication, and pustulent pontification. And as soon as I can find a character in pop culture to fit the above alliteration, I’ll ascribe him accordingly to an appropriate austerity.

Writer X said...

I'm waiting for my insurance premium to drop $2500 this year as he promised. Not.

On health care lately, he's starting to talk about it like he's engaged in some kind of high school science experiment. "Let's just give it a chance and see how it works, folks!" he says to the adoring fans at orchestrated townhalls. Yeah, that's real smart to treat 1/6 of the economy like it's some kind of experiment. I have zero confidence in this guy and it's getting worse.

He can promise all he wants but he's become the boy who cried wolf.

AndrewPrice said...

wahsatchmo, That's quite an alliteration. Let me know if you find a literary character who fits the bill! :-)

I've often heard the Republicans described as the "Lucy and the football party" because they keep falling for the same Democratic tricks over and over again. But I think those days are over. I think that people have woken up to the tricks and they no longer trust the Democrats on anything. In fact, I think there is a lot of evidence that people have simply stopped listening to them. That's why you see the rise of the Tea Party and the mass protests -- unlike anything the left has ever been able to put together. People have reached their limits. I guess we'll see in November.

AndrewPrice said...

Writer X, It is funny how much uncertainty there suddenly is in the health care bill isn't it? Before it passed, before they read the bill, every Democrats was sure what it would do. Now that it's passed, we heard a lot of "we'll have to see what happens." As you put it, that's not a smart thing to do with 1/6th of the economy!

I think most people are in the same spot you are in. They know this thing won't work. They are bitterly watching as the proof builds up, and they want a chance to undo the mistake of 2008. I don't see that changing any time soon.

Joel Farnham said...


The more I hear about how the ObamaCare is playing out, the more likely, I think, the bill will be repealed. :-)

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, Did you see today that insurance companies are being flooded with angry callers who are confused why they can't sign up for free insurance? And with people upset to discover that the pre-existing condition stuff doesn't kick in for four more years!

This is what over-promising causes. Those people won't support this bill for very long.

Joel Farnham said...


I did see that. I just hope it translates into votes this November. I also hope and pray that those free-loaders are enumerated and exposed as free-loaders. Too much to hope for?

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, I think they will always be freeloaders and will always see themselves as "entitled" to the benefits of other people's labors.

As for votes, I think the important thing is that it keeps these people from turning out to support the left. There is little chance they will support our side, but this should at least keep them from supporting the Dems because they didn't get what they thought they would.

clew said...

Oh, that's it. I'm following you and putting you on my blogroll. I KNEW I couldn't be the only one who could see the obvious!

Rock on ~

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Clew! Great minds right?

Post a Comment