He reneged on this central campaign plank on 22 November, 16 days after he was elected in part on account of it. The reason given, "the middle of a recession is no time to raise taxes", was a word for word quote of what John Freakin' McCain said during those same debates. It was a betrayal of those who supported Obama because he stood for social justice.
Which raises a large doubt about Mr. Obama's sincerity during the debates and during the campaign generally. And now.
Last year Mr. Obama got a huge boost toward the Democratic nomination by winning the South Carolina primary, largely on the strength of a huge turnout by Black voters, 96% of whom voted for Mr. Obama. When Bill Clinton pointed out that Jesse Jackson had won the South Carolina primary too, a huge stink was made about Clinton having said that. Clinton's point was that the Black voters of South Carolina would vote for a brown paper bag if it were running for president.
The Obama campaign then made a high-minded-sounding but hypocritical call for race to play no part in the election. No part except for millions of Blacks voting for Obama solely on the basis of race. It became the premise of the election that Blacks could vote on the basis of race but no one else could.
Still, no one could fault the premise that race should not enter into politics. It was to be a color-blind administration. Or so we were told. There were those of us who hoped that having a Black president would mark the beginning of the end for this fetish about skin color that has dogged America for centuries.
Martin Luther King looked forward to a time when Americans would judge one another "not by the color of their skin but by the content of their characters". In nominating Judge Sotomayor the Obama administration has betrayed not just the living who supported him but also the memory and legacy of Doctor King.
Judge Sotomayor has made it abundantly clear that she finds no fault with a racist society. She just wants people of her gender and color to get a bigger piece of the racist pie. Now we find - again - that so far from wanting to abolish racism, the Obama administration thinks racism is just fine so long as it is to their political advantage. It is yet another betrayal of what the candidate stood for and what the President does not.
The war in Iraq, which Obama said he would end if elected, shows no sign of ending. Instead the bombings continue and American casualties and deaths continue to mount. Just as they did under Bush.
No troop withdrawals have been announced or even intimated. Obama promised radical changes from what he called the Bush administration's "mismanagement" of the conduct of the wars. Once elected he reversed himself . He kept in office Bush's Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates. The very Secretary of Defense whom he previously claimed had done the mismanaging.
We voted for an end to the war and what did we get? The same war run by the same people. We voted for Obama and now not only is there is no Change, we no longer even have the Hope that the new administration will be any better.
Same tax policy as Bush, same war policy.
The President's Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, clearly after extensive consultations with the White House, recently announced that the problem in the Middle East is the expansion of Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria, the West Bank. Under the Obama Administration, no expansion will be permitted under any pretext whatever, she said.
This is exactly the policy Obama the candidate assured us Obama the President would not adopt. He told us he would stand by Israel. He cited the same reasons we do - a small beleaguered democracy with its civilians subject to constant attack has the right and duty to defend its citizens. Israel deserves, and will have, our full support he said. Many, including me, supported him on the basis of that assurance. The betrayal, the double cross, is explicit. And personal.
What the settlers are doing in the settlements is having children and building homes. The only thing anyone can find objectionable about that is that they are Jews. No one would object, no one does object, when Arabs have children and build homes in the West Bank. No one objects when Arabs have children and build homes in Israel either. The objection is only when Jews do the same things in the same places. This is the clearest litmus test for racism one can posit.
And the administration has made it clear which side it takes - the racist side. The administration has chosen to help enforce the "No Jews Allowed" sign the Arabs have posted on the West Bank.
The sole objection the world has to the settlements is that the Arabs don't want Jews living on what they claim is their land. All over the world, from Paris to Santiago and Sydney, natives and immigrants mix together, and those who become angry and violent about it are condemned as racists. Only when the victims of racism are Jews is a different standard applied.
But whose land is it? Isn't the problem that the Jews are raising their families on Arab land?
The case is similar to that of the riots accompanying the desegregation of Little Rock High School in Arkanas in 1957. The Whites pointed out with great vehemence that it was their school, and that the N____s had no business studying algebra and American history there. Half of which was true. The Whites of Little Rock had paid for and built the school and for decades only their children went there. It was their school.
But it was the rankest racism to say that their neighbors could not, must not, study there because they were of another people. The argument was made that the desegregation should be stopped because the Whites of Arkansas were so opposed and racist that there could never be peace if desegregation were imposed. That is, violent racists had to be accommodated precisely because they were violent.
The Arkansas Whites said, "It's our school. Blacks can't come here." The Palestinian Arabs say, "It's our land. Jews can't come here." See which side the Obama administration has chosen.
President Eisenhower was of a different mind. The Eisenhower administration made a principled decision and sent federal troops to Little Rock to enforce the desegregation orders of the federal court. Rather than accommodate violent racists, Eisenhower confronted them with troops and bayonets.
Principles being apparently irrelevant to their politics, the Obama administration, now that the parties are Jews and Arabs instead of Blacks and Whites, has chosen to accommodate the violent racists, not the people wanting to study algebra and history and raise their children in peace.