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Tapping into Politics as Usual

On Obama’s flip-flop on renegotiating NAFTA, Jake Tapper wants to know:

Are we supposed to act as if things politicians say during primaries are irrelevant and meaningless? Are we supposed to just accept as fact that politicians say things in the heat of the moment that they don’t mean and thus we should should just collectively self-induce amnesia?

Well, we could at least give up the pretense of there even being any New Politics. It is not the hypocrisy that is so grating, so much as the sanctimoniousness. Had Obama not styled himself as the savior of American politics it might not be so noteworthy when he does as badly as, or worse even, than other politicians when it comes to ethical slip-ups, the lobbyists’ revolving door, and bald-faced policy reversals.

That said, the broken campaign promises (e.g. NAFTA renegotiation, immediate Iraq withdrawal, end all Bush anti-terrorism policies) are the best part of this administration. So maybe we shouldn’t knock hypocrisy. It’s better than the destructive policies articulated for the sake of getting elected. And that explains, I suppose, why politicians get away with this sort of thing: their opponents are happy with the policy flip-flops and their supporters (in general) aren’t intellectually honest enough to object.


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