The Obama administration is crediting its anti-recession stimulus plan with creating up to 50,000 jobs on dozens of wind farms, even though many of those wind farms were built before the stimulus money began to flow or even before President Barack Obama was inaugurated.Staunch Obama defenders will dismiss such revelations. They might point to the larger deceits of the Bush administration. They might say that, despite everything, Obama is among the most honest and trustworthy Presidents in modern U.S. history. Or something like that.
Out of 70 major wind farms that received the $4.4 billion in federal energy grants through the stimulus program, public records show that 11, which received a total of $600 million, erected their wind towers during the Bush administration. And a total of 19 wind farms, which received $1.3 billion, were built before any of the stimulus money was distributed.
Yet all the jobs at these wind farms are counted in the administration's figures for jobs created by the stimulus.
In testimony to Congress earlier this year, the Department of Energy's senior adviser on the stimulus plan, Matt Rogers, touted the wind farm program for creating as many as 50,000 jobs.
But here's the problem: those millions of new voters who brought Obama to office, not to mention his other supporters, believed that he was not your average politician. They thought that their man was honest and principled and had the country's interests at heart, not his own. And every time that myth gets punctured, even just a little bit, these voters turn away from him in droves. Witness the extreme lack of enthusiasm among Democratic voters in the days leading up to the November midterm elections.
Obama, his supporters might now say, could not control what voters thought of him. It's not his fault that he's not the messiah they expected. The problem with this argument is that Obama hardly did anything to dissuade voters from thinking this way when he was on the campaign trail. His main rival for the Democratic nomination, Hillary Clinton, was presented as a cynical pragmatist, willing to compromise her own values to stay in power. Obama built his reputation in contrast to this perception.
Moreover, Obama has largely blundered when it comes to explaining his actions in office. Compromise comes with the territory in Washington. If Obama were honest about the difficult choices he has had to make to get things done, his supporters probably would have understood the position he was in. Instead, Obama has exaggerated his accomplishments and has taken to demonizing the Republicans as an excuse for certain policy failures. Both strategies are distasteful.
Obama now looks like just another politician massaging the message in order to stay in office. And that's not what his supporters expected.