Sunday, October 26, 2008

Another reason to ignore the Issues when picking president

Pretty much exactly 4 years ago, days before the election, I argued in my Stanford Daily column that Americans (myself included) are too stupid/ignorant to pick the President. That really understanding the correct policies a president should take, requires years of study, that people don't really take the time for, but shouldn't, given that in an economy where people specialize, it doesn't make sense for everybody to be a policy wonk.

That is why I advocated basing decisions on character rather than the "issues" journalists and pundits are always blathering on about.

Another reason issues don't matter, is that whatever issues Presidents promise is rarely what they deliver (usually because circumstances change). Bush ran on a campaign for a humble foreign policy and against nation-building, though 9/11 forced him to change all that.

Kinsley, in Time magazine this week made the point "Even more miraculous (though troublesome for democracy), both Lincoln and F.D.R. were elected by promising more or less the opposite of what they did in office. Lincoln said he'd preserve the institution of slavery. F.D.R. said he'd balance the federal budget."

Thus when the fact checkers all bristled and got all indignant at McCain's accusation that Obama would raise taxes, even though Obama's "plan" said he wouldn't. I think pish posh. Since when do campaign promises have any bite. McCain's point that Congress will likely push for higher taxes, and Obama will be more likely to accede is perfectly valid.

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