The 6 Biggest Debate Promises Obama Failed to Keep

Warm up for tomorrow night's empty promises with some of 2008's forgotten pledges.

For the more than 54 million Americans who passed up a perfectly good Friday night in September 2008 to watch the first presidential debate between Barack Obama and John McCain, the exchange seemed like a win for Obama. 

According to a CBS News/Knowledge Networks poll conducted at the time, 39 percent thought Obama (then a Democratic senator from Illinois) won the first debate; 24 percent gave the nod to McCain (then and now a Republican senator from Arizona); and 37 percent called it a tie (which still may have helped the relatively unknown Obama as the debate was weighted toward foreign policy, supposedly McCain's strong suit). 

Many pundits agreed: "Strong on substance. Few mistakes" (Ezra Klein); "I'd give the edge to Barack Obama" (Rogers Cadenhead); "It was very effective" (Daily Kos).

But while he may have gotten the most debating points, Obama blew enough smoke to raise global temperatures by several degrees. Debates are forums for signaling how you will govern, laying out ideas for change, and putting your policies up for review. By that standard, President Obama's time actually running the country have borne little resemblance to his 2008 rhetoric. He has vindicated some of his foreign policy claims (focusing on Osama bin Laden; unfocusing on Iraq). But on what George H.W. Bush used to call "the domestic side," the last four years have been as punishing for Obama's truthiness as they have been for the American people.

Tomorrow night President Obama will go up against former Republican Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. In the which-one-would-you-rather-have-a-beer-with dynamic of presidential contests (a contest in which Romney, who doesn't even drink coffee, already has a handicap), Obama again has a good prospect of winning.

But before subjecting yourself to a new round of Obama fish stories, take a look at how the ones from 2008 have held up: 

1) We Need to Reduce Our Debt to China

"[W]e've got challenges, for example, with China, where we are borrowing billions of dollars," Obama announced in 2008. "They now hold a trillion dollars' worth of our debt." 

China bashing is the little black dress of presidential politics: It never goes out of style. Tomorrow night you should expect to hear the candidates excoriate the Middle Kingdom for such completely un-American practices as subsidizing its politically connected businesses, manipulating its currency, and aggressively seeking favorable markets for its products. 

How did Obama address the supposed problem of a trillion dollars in Chinese-held debt? As of the most recent Treasury Department report, China held…$1.1 trillion of U.S. public debt. 

Granted, that's a relatively smaller portion of a total debt that was about $10 trillion in 2008 and is more than $16 trillion today (China's declining appetite for American public debt being another friendly warning from our second-biggest trading partner that the United States has chosen to ignore). But we're guessing that's not the solution voters thought Obama was proposing. 

Next: Make the banksters pay! (Part I)

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  • LTC(ret) John||

    Come on! No alt-text for that photo?!

  • LTC(ret) John||

    Damme, now my browser works....well done, well done indeed!

  • ||

    They have used it a few times...I think an entire article explaining what the fuck is going on is in order.

    alt-text will not cut it.

  • ||

    "Com'ere, youngster. Gimme some of that sugar."

  • Pro Libertate||

    Wouldn't it be easier to take all of Obama's promises and list the ones he kept? I've got one--he ran for the presidency and actually took office. Can't deny that.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Hey, Lo Pan! He may be my favorite villain ever.

  • ||

    Which Lo Pan? Little old basket case on wheels or the ten foot tall roadblock?

  • Pro Libertate||

    One and the same person, Episiarch.

  • Ice Nine||

    Not sure Lo Pan qualifies as a "person". Can we get a ruling?

  • Pro Libertate||

    If you substitute "Jack" for "Episiarch", I'm quoting the movie.

  • db||

    I am Episiarch's complete lack of surprise.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Episiarch Kennedy. Episiarching off.

  • ||

    Episiarch you, ProL.

  • Pro Libertate||

    No, no, you're doing it wrong, Episiarchass.

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    household net worth [pdf] is still $3 trillion below where it was at the start of the recession.

    Why start there? That was six months before Obama took office. The housing bubble popped and home prices won't see bubble prices again for decades.

    And CEO pay? The TARP banks paid back their loans ASAP when their pay was threatened as wards of the state.

  • LTC(ret) John||

    Hmmm, maybe you skipped this:

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    Shrike rarely even reads the articles he sources.

    My favorite was him citing Warren Buffet's support for Simpson-Bowles as evidence of his desire to see the debt paid down, when in the same article Buffet said, "So you have to get expenditures, in my view, down to about 21 percent of GDP. And you have to get revenues up to 18 1/2 or 19."

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    The big banks did pay TARP back meaning all nine that were forced into it by Hank Paulson. And they did it fast when their exec pay was threatened. Give Geithner his credit.

    The loan profit from just those nine was over $25 billion.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    Fuck that tax cheat:

    WASHINGTON (CNNMoney) -- Regulators were under pressure to cut the biggest banks loose from the Wall Street bailout program, a federal watchdog said in a report issued Friday.

    Congress and regulators made it easier for the biggest banks to pay back tens of billions of dollars borrowed under the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), according to a Friday report released by the Special Inspector General for TARP.

    The report zeroed in on regulators who ignored their original requirements to ensure eight of the weaker big banks had enough of a capital cushion when they exited TARP.

    The report suggests that if regulators had required Bank of America (BAC, Fortune 500), Wells Fargo (WFC, Fortune 500) and PNC Financial Services (PNC, Fortune 500) to raise as much capital as Citigroup (C, Fortune 500) had to, the banks may have been in a stronger position

  • ant1sthenes||

    You mean six months before he became President. Senator is pretty much the next level down in terms of power for elected officials.

  • Caleb Turberville||

    Just for laughs.

  • ||

    Does it need to be said that these promices are so farcially stupid in the first place that we almost shouldn't even care if he kept them or not?

  • Caleb Turberville||

    Bush hurt us so bad. We were desperate.

  • Caleb Turberville||

    You know. Now that I think of it, Bush did a lot for the Democrats. I mean, Obama is at least as nutty as Gore or Kerry, but Americans weren't ready to buy the load of crap.

    It took 8 whole years of Bush to soften up Americans for the Dems to regain presidential power.

  • MoreFreedom||

    If Romney wins, it'll be a repeat of the big warfare/welfare state, the economy will remain in the tank, and Democrats will regain Congress (possibly in 2014) and then Democrats will control all branches in 2016. Followed by more Democratic thieving such as Obamacare.

    I say vote for Johnson (if not then Obama) as we'll have a divided government, and Republicans will be less likely to allow new spending increases.

  • mitch||

    We all know why Obama's plans have not all succeeded: the Republicans cock blocked him!

  • A Serious Man||

    Godamnit, why won't you just give Obama a chance?! //deluded Democrat

  • MoreFreedom||

    Obama had his chance with his $800 billion stimulus (and he also voted for TARP and signed every spending bill). He increased the debt by over $5 trillion. That's not giving him a chance? If not, what does it take?

    Obama will say anything to get elected, but then so will Romney. One must look to their records (not their rhetoric) to see what they might do. And it's about the same, and they both offer more government.

    I'll be voting for less government. The only candidate with that record, is Gary Johnson.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    Sure, Obama has merely followed the same pneumatic strategy employed by his predecessors – using every known policy tool to discourage savings and spur spending – and it would not have been realistic to expect any different. But his administration has continued to spin new fictions of fiscal responsibility, with Treasury Secretary Geithner repeatedly claiming that personal savings rates are higher than they were under President George W. Bush.

    This is one of the most egregious bits of double-speak by the administration, as the payment of household debt is counted as "savings" in the government lexicon.

    If the savings rate went up, it was primarily because people were vastly overleveraged and trying to reduce their debt profile.

  • Jerry on the road||

    Didn't Obama talk about proving the cynics wrong - whatever happened to that?

  • ||

    Something something obstructionist Tea Party terrorist Republicans.

  • ||

    At least he gave us Droney the Friendly Drone

  • Calidissident||

    This might be the best cartoon of all time

  • Romulus Augustus||

    None of this matters to most of the large bloc of women voters.
    He's dreamy, his wife is fabulous, and he's for free contraceptives.
    What else do you need to know?

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    I'm not laughing because it's funny; I'm laughing because it's true.

  • Hopfiend||

    I am laughing so I don't effin, cry

  • SIV||

    Pay reparations:

    $1.45 for every dollar a man makes. Lilly Ledbetter II. Comparable worth+ coming in Obama's second term.

  • ant1sthenes||

    They do realize that we can pretty much revert to caveman mode whenever we want, right? I mean, it'll have to be single guys with nothing to lose in terms of pussy to get the ball rolling, but once they do...

  • Barack||

    Yeah, but Romney's rich. and that's eviiilll now... Don't you pay attention?

  • Skip||

    I watched the first 2000 debate over the weekend and I had forgoten how much of a jackass Al Gore came off as. He was sighing and interupting all over the place! But I don't think any Democrat will give that bad of a performance in my lifetime.

  • Ayn Random Variation||


  • Brian from Texas||

    Since my man Gary Johnson isn't welcome, I'm paying the debate back in kind by not watching. I'll just watch a Beavis Butthead DVD instead. I'd rather watch two funny imbeciles than two unfunny imbeciles.

  • Caleb Turberville||

    I have a class tomorrow, and I plan on watching The Avengers when I get home.

    Tell me, will anyone who doesn't subscribe to the TEAM-sport political paradigm actually be interested in the debates?

  • FD||

    It's kinda cool that we don't have to watch anymore:

    (a) The right and left press predict how each player is going to perform.

    (b) And the right and left press tell us how well their player actually did perform.

    What's amazing is that they don't have to stay up late tonight to write (b).

    They've already written it.

  • Hopfiend||

    This makes me smile a little

  • EqualTime||

    Really? This is what you got?

    Wasn't the Fisker loan part of a Bush administration deal, not the Stimulus?

    Didn't Obama need help from Congress to reduce the deficit and create jobs? Didn't the TOP Congress reject the Jobs bill? WHere is the TOP Congress effort to create jobs? Didn't Obama push through the key benefit to the middle class - the payroll tax holiday - over Bohener's objection? Is a 3% tax break only good for Matt Lauer's $25 million annual income but not the bricklayer's $50,000?

    I agree it is ridiculous to me that not one bankster apparently did anything criminal in the 2008 meltdown. I would certainly take another look at that.

    Good luck with all that. We'll see how it plays out.

  • Sevo||

    Sarc? Stupidity?

  • 4thaugust1932||

    US/EU must peg Outsourcing/BPO/IT projects/jobs to Human rights/Caste system in CHINDIA.


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