To the long list of issues on which President Obama told voters one thing during the 2008 campaign and has done something different as president, add two more. One is the size of the army. From Mr. Obama's 2008 presidential campaign literature: "Barack Obama supports plans to increase the size of the Army by 65,000 troops and the Marines by 27,000 troops. Increasing our end strength will help units retrain and re-equip properly between deployments and decrease the strain on military families." From today's New York Times: "Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta has concluded that the Army has to shrink even below current targets, dropping to 490,000 soldiers over the next decade...White House and Pentagon officials sought to portray Mr. Obama, who has been criticized by the Republican presidential candidates as weak on national security, as deeply involved in planning for the new strategy.' He has led this review process personally,' said the National Security Council spokesman, Tommy Vietor."
The Politifact Web site absurdly rates this as a "promise kept," explaining, "Obama said nothing about keeping the higher levels indefinitely." How cynical can you get?
The second Obama switcheroo — switcheroo number two — comes on "signing statements" in which the president signs a bill into law while blithely announcing that he plans to ignore some aspects of the law. My former New York Sun and Forward colleague Eli Lake reports:
At a campaign stop in Grand Junction, Colo., in May 2008, Obama responded to a question from the audience by promising not [to] use the signing statements. Drawing a contrast with President George W. Bush, whom Obama characterized as changing "what Congress passed by attaching a letter saying 'I don't agree with this part' or 'I don't agree with that part,'" Obama asserted, "Congress's job is to pass legislation. The president can veto it or he can sign it."
As president he's issued at least 20 signing statements, most recently one on New Year's Eve.