On Capitol Hill this year, one of President Obama’s most troublesome critics has been Senator Obama.
President Obama, for instance, wants Congress to raise the national debt limit. But his opponents have brought up a statement that then-Sen. Barack Obama made in 2006: The first-term Democrat representing Illinois said that merely debating a debt-limit increase was “a sign of leadership failure.”
President Obama now insists that he had the right to dispatch U.S. forces to the conflict in Libya without authorization from Congress. Critics have noted that Sen. Obama seemed to feel differently about the proper use of military force in 2007.
Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich (D-Ohio) even carries a quote from Sen. Obama in his pocket, to show people who don’t believe it.
“The president does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation,” Obama said four years ago.
The past is always an occupational hazard for presidents, who find themselves disowning statements they made when they were candidates or legislators embroiled in partisan fights.
But Obama seems to have gotten himself into unusually hot water this year. In three different battles, his own words have become weapons for both Democrats and Republicans.
Asked about the apparent contradictions last week, a White House spokesman said that “the president has already explained his position on each of these issues, and we will let those responses speak for themselves.”
On the debt ceiling, Obama has said his past position was a mistake. Moreover, he has called on Republicans not to make the same mistake.