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The Nature of the Beast

Further evidence of the validity of the point that I made in my most-recent Pittsburgh Tribune-Review column is supplied in today’s Wall Street Journal by Peggy Noonan (gated):

Most interestingly – and this is what political scientists call “the part that makes you want to shoot yourself” – Quinnipiac reports a majority of voters do not feel Mrs. Clinton is “honest and trustworthy.” They made that judgment by a margin of 52% to 39%. That means a good portion of those who support Mrs Clinton do not believe she can be trusted to tell them the truth. The nice way to think of that is: “Americans sure are over the heroic conception of the presidency!” Another nice way: “Americans shrewdly pick presidents based not on personal virtues but on other qualities, such as experience and ideological predisposition.”

A less nice way is: “Wow, you’d vote for someone even you don’t believe? You might want to trust a president when the nukes begin to fall. What’s wrong with you?”


Astonishingly, the incessant dodging, dissembling, duplicity, deceit, deceptiveness, and dishonesty are so widely understood to be inseparable from politics that sophisticated pundits and professors treat with contempt any and all suggestions that the prevalence of such dishonorable qualities among politicians is a good reason to dial down government’s powers.  The theory seems to be that if an eight-year-old child can easily spot and be repulsed by these unattractive features of politics, then these features are far too mundane and obvious to serve as a basis upon which serious arguments for reducing the power of governments can be built.