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Of Course, Friedman Has Already Written This Column A Gazillion Times

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B- junior high school essay or New York Times column? Alas, the title gives away the answer:

Any candidate with that four-part agenda [i.e. who agrees with Tom Friedman about everything] would win — and so would the country, because he would win with a mandate to do what needs doing.

Let’s leave aside this strange idea that presidential elections are decided almost exclusively by policy details, or that the Thomas Friedman’s priorities mirror the public’s exactly. I assume the errors here are too obvious too require refutation. Instead, I’ll point out that as soon as someone uses the word “mandate” there’s about a 99% chance you’re hip-deep in bullshit. I’ll give first term George W. Bush this — when pundits were explaining that after his election “victory” he had no choice but to govern as a bipartsian, he seemed to understand that you have a “mandate” to pass anything you have the votes in Congress to pass. (The second term Bush seemed to forget this.) Anyway, if Republicans control any legislative veto point the chances of a major infrastructure program or significant tax increases passing are nil, and this is true no matter what platform the winning candidate of the Tom Freidman is Right About Everything Party runs on.

Incidentally, Bill Keller makes the same silly argument in his argument about why Hillary Clinton should be added to the 2012 ticket: “he will not be a lame duck with a gridlocked Congress but a rejuvenated president with a mandate and a Congress that may be a little less forbidding.” How, exactly, would Hillary Clinton help pass legislation? How would putting an important public figure with no Republican support on the ticket produce a “mandate” anyway? Pundits never have to answer these questions. I think “mandate” does more work to cover up craters within arguments than “bully pulpit.”

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