Karl Smith has been asking a good question:

Something will come to pass. Someone will be elected President of the United States.

If you had the choice to make sure that person was not a “fool” should you not Say Anything to make it happen. Is the personal integrity of one individual worth risking the most powerful executive position in the world?

When the primary season started there was strong reason to believe that in 2013 the world would face a slew of challenges not least of which was continued stagnation in the US, Europe and Japan.

Stagnation exacerbated by foolish not fraudulent policy.

If that matters should one not do whatever he or she can to stop it?

Here’s why, from Jonathan Bernstein:

The lesson: we can be governed now by measures that were adopted years ago, in some cases decades ago, based on what some candidate said in reaction to the particular dynamics of some now-obscure nomination battle.

Or, to be more blunt: presidents usually try to enact the policies they advocate during the campaign. So if you want to know what Mitt Romney or the rest of the Republican crowd would do in 2013 if elected, the best way to find out is to listen to what they are saying right now…

Political scientists, however, have been studying this question for some time, and what they’ve found is that out-and-out high-profile broken pledges like George H. W. Bush’s are the exception, not the rule. That’s what two book-length studies from the 1980s found. Michael Krukones in Promises and Performance: Presidential Campaigns as Policy Predictors (1984) established that about 75 percent of the promises made by presidents from Woodrow Wilson through Jimmy Carter were kept. In Presidents and Promises: From Campaign Pledge to Presidential Performance (1985), Jeff Fishel looked at campaigns from John F. Kennedy through Ronald Reagan. What he found was that presidents invariably attempt to carry out their promises; the main reason some pledges are not redeemed is congressional opposition, not presidential flip-flopping. Similarly, Gerald Pomper studied party platforms, and discovered that the promises parties made were consistent with their postelection agendas. More recent and smaller-scale papers have confirmed the main point: presidents’ agendas are clearly telegraphed in their campaigns.

President Romney may have Said Anything to become President, but on Jan 20 2013 he won’t simply be able to then announce his "real" agenda. He will be at best constrained, and at worst bound, by what he has promised in order to secure the office.

This is what makes Republican claims about Obama’s "Saul Alinsky radicalism" so odd. Even if, in his heart-of-hearts, Obama is an unreconstructed Marxist-Leninist, if he had proclaimed himself such on Jan 20 2009 and asked Congress to pass the "Government Takeover of the Means of Production Act" he would have probably found himself tossed out of office altogether. Romney’s situation would be much less extreme, but nonetheless he will find that trying to pursue a substantially different agenda in office than the one he promised while campaigning will be at once political suicide and fail to accomplish anything.

So unless you’re referring to things that specifically relate to unilateral Presidential powers – for example, Romney knows with some certainty that Gingrich or Obama’s election will invariably lead to thermonuclear war – then Saying Anything is only useful to fulfill a purely selfish pursuit of power or glory, rather than a policy or political agenda.

Advertisements