Wednesday, January 2, 2013

PolitiFact reflects on the "Obameter"

The PolitiFact staff offers its reflections on its "Obamater" ratings.

The striking thing to me is how intern J.B. Wogan comes easily the closest to providing an accurate historical context to President Obama's pre-election promises:
Then again, we expect bold rhetoric from our politicians. After all, candidates promise what they think voters want.
Exactly. And the American president is quite a bit weaker, short of things like executive orders and foreign policy actions, than the popular conception. The symbolic power of the office gives a misleading impression of presidential power with its constitutional checks and balances.

One likes to think that presidential candidates realize the limits on their power prior to taking office, and that realization ought to place some sort of check on campaign promises other than those the candidate uses purely to gain votes. It's worth noting that Mr. Obama may have realized he was likely to have unified government behind him in the form of solid majorities in the Senate and House of Representatives.  And of course that aspect of political science ought to provide context to any type of historical comparison using the number of campaign promises from candidate Obama.

This article provides some tantalizing-but-inconclusive hints at ideological bias, but the superficiality of the political science knowledge expressed in the article stands as its most intriguing feature.  Given the popularity of the political science minor among journalism students, that feature comes as a bit of a surprise.

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