Ornate Expectations

By David Harsanyi

November 5, 2008 5 min read

For decades, we've dealt with shattered expectations and broken promises. That stinker Herbert Hoover guaranteed "a car in every garage." Lyndon Johnson pledged to wipe out "poverty." Bush the Father said "no new taxes" with a passion that made his broken pledge doubly infuriating.

With this in mind, I was aghast to learn that Barack Obama was attempting to tamp down expectations for his presidency. Obama can't tamp down expectations; Obama is an expectation.

Listen, when Scarlett Johansson tells you "we can," you know it.

Americans, though, are sticklers for promises. Surely, they are looking forward to lower taxation. Obama pledged to cut taxes "for 95 percent of all working families." (Forget those irritatingly successful Americans, who apparently are not "working.") Obama also promised to eradicate "capital gains taxes for the small businesses" and startups that "create the high-wage, high-tech jobs of tomorrow."

Now, I hate to be the skunk at the party, but I have more use for a low-tech job of yesterday — a mechanic, for instance — than, say, another gadget that allows me to Twitter while driving 85 mph. "Jobs of Tomorrow!" has a nice sci-fi ring to it, but is Washington the best venue to decide what these jobs will be? I guess it's about faith, not questions.

So I have faith that Obama will keep his word and investigate this bloated federal budget left by King George "line by line" — despite the absence of a line-item veto. After all, what's procedure to a man who can promise everything?

Obama asserts that he will pay for "every dime" of his trillions in new spending "by closing corporate loopholes and tax havens that don't help America grow."

No more loopholes. No more deficit spending. No more cheats. With these new dollars, Obama will fund fantastic new programs and turn around this massive failure we call the United States. " Finally meet our moral obligation to provide every child a world-class education" and " Finally keep the promise of affordable, accessible health care for every single American."


Obama would like to mandate 50 hours of community service per year for middle- and high-school students and create some kind of creepy internal national army of do-gooders.

This would allow us to shed our status as slack-jawed yokels and rejoin the enlightened world. They love us. We love them. Well, apart from those greedy Chinese and Indians who are stealing our jobs … oh, and the Colombians.

Thankfully, Obama promised lower energy prices, and "in 10 years" we can " finally end our dependence on oil from the Middle East."

Why hasn't anyone ever promised that before? Yes, the entire 8 percent of oil we obtain from the Middle East can be sold to China or India now, making absolutely no difference in price or level of production. Thank goodness for populism.

Anyway, Obama has promised 5 million new high-wage jobs in renewable energy and to stop global warming, so we won't need oil for long. Obama promises more nuclear power, as well — after some polling data assured him we like the sound of it. Obama also has promised that the "central" focus of his new nuclear policy will be "eliminating all nuclear weapons."

It's a little unclear whether he means our nuclear weapons or the arsenal of (soon enough) Iran, Pakistan and Russia. No worries. Obama has promised to have a face-to-face and give these folks a what-for should anyone misbehave.

So you see, we're all here for you, man. Americans and the world. We can't let you forget your promises. Waiting won't be easy. It's difficult to be patient when you sit on the cusp of Utopia.

Please don't mess with expectations. Just bring it on home.

David Harsanyi is a columnist at The Denver Post and the author of "Nanny State." Visit his Web site at www.DavidHarsanyi.com. To find out more about David Harsanyi and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

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