I know that this pathetic bit by Kevin Drum was done to death by blogs last week, but I was on the road and still want to get my innings. For those who have not seen it, Drum said (in a post about Obama and Libyan war):
So what should I think about this? If it had been my call, I wouldn't have gone into Libya. But the reason I voted for Obama in 2008 is because I trust his judgment. And not in any merely abstract way, either: I mean that if he and I were in a room and disagreed about some issue on which I had any doubt at all, I'd literally trust his judgment over my own. I think he's smarter than me, better informed, better able to understand the consequences of his actions, and more farsighted. I voted for him because I trust his judgment, and I still do.
A few thoughts
- Leaders on the Left have a strongly arrogant belief that they are smarter than ordinary citizens, and so it is their duty to make decisions for individuals because politicians will do a much better job of running people's lives than ordinary folks would themselves. I have always supposed that for this governing philosophy to be successful, there had to be a deep parallel desire among the rank and file of the Left to be led, to put their own life in the hands of politicians who can be better trusted to make decisions for them. This bit from Drum seems to be evidence of that desire.
- I know of absolutely no one, politician or otherwise, whose judgement I would generally trust more than my own. Seriously, this is just pathetic. Sure there are folks whose judgement I might trust, based on long experience, over my own on narrow issues (e.g. my wife on restaurant choices or my son on who to draft for my fantasy football team).
- Drum completely ignores the issue of incentives (as do most folks on the Left). Even if a politician's judgement were better than mine on a certain issue, could I trust his or her incentives to make the decision based on the same goals I might have? In the case of Libya, Obama has any number of incentives -- his poll numbers, reelection in 2 years, pressure from members of his own party, his legacy, his image in other countries, finding consensus among his advisors, etc -- that might affect his decision-making but which I do not share.
- What in God's name in Obama's pre-Presidential career provided the basis for Drum's staggering trust in his judgement? Where have we ever, ever seen this judgement exercised in any meaningful way, particularly on an issue with this many chips on the table? Even since he has been President, where has this judgement been evidenced? As I have said any number of times in the last two years, having a really, really good speaking voice is not a proxy for intelligence.
- To the extent that Drum voted for Obama based on his foreign policy judgement, Drum's perception of Obama's judgement had to have been based in large part on campaign statements and speeches Obama has made on foreign policy. And those statements basically said that what Obama is doing now is illegal. How can Obama have universally good judgement if he promised to do A in the campaign and is doing not-A today. Both A and not-A cannot simultaneously constitute good judgement.