Thursday, November 15, 2007


in talking his views on the candidates in the presidential primary, matthew yglesias makes a really good point:
Around Democratic Washington -- and among political junkies all around the country -- people have tons of barroom wisdom about the electability, judgment, experience, managerial competence, etc. of the various candidates but frankly I think the evidence available on all of these scores is indecisive and that the issue is pretty inherently unknowable. Unfortunately, neither Hillary Clinton nor Barack Obama has experience running against a conservative Republican in a "red" or "purple" jurisdiction and neither of them have held executive office. We can make educated guesses about their skillz in these regards, but we're just guessing. The evidence from the campaign trail suggests to me that Obama would have a better foreign policy, but the evidence of history suggests to me that campaign-based evidence is a terrible predictor of how foreign policy will actually be conducted. Which candidate is most likely to be able to get his or her agenda through congress? I have no idea and I don't think there's any way to figure it out. It's just a very frustrating thing to spend one's time thinking about.
it's also a pretty obvious point. we all know that what politicians say when they're campaigning has, at best, a tenuous link to what they actually accomplish when they get into office. and yet when we watch campaigns we all pretend that we can make an informed choice about what they will do as president.

hell, when george w. bush was originally campaigning for president he indicated that foreign policy would not be very important in his administration, that he would focus more on latin america than the middle east, and rejected the idea that the u.s. should engage nation-building. of course, "9/11 changed everything", but that's also part of the problem. it's not just that politicians lie, it's that shit happens and priorities change.