The Panglossian Presidency

A loyal reader asks my view on the reappointment of Gates to Defence.  With some repurposing of part of my argument on Biden, and a little help from Leibniz:

Of course, your objectives and Obama’s differ.  You may be concerned about the economy, the environment, world peace.  He is, as a reasonable first approximation, concerned only with winning reelection in 2012.  But, contra McCain-Palin, these differing objectives need not cause a conflict.

How could you fail to support a decision of Obama’s?  There are three possible reasons:

1) You might prefer that Obama lose in 2012.  That is, of course, your prerogative, and not yet treasonous.

2) You might want Obama to win, and be concerned that his decision makes that less likely.  Of course, any President can end up in a bubble isolated from reality (Bush on Iraq, Clinton on healthcare).  On the other hand, you have your own bubble, and haven’t talked to as many voters in swing states, so it’s not clear that your judgment is any better.

3) You might accept an increased risk of a Republican win in 2012, to trade off against one of your personal objectives (e.g. end to Cuban embargo, U.S. troops out of Iraq, avoiding runaway global warming and the end of human civilisation).  Fair enough, as long as your expected utility calculation includes possibly 4-8 years of President Palin.  Does it still come out positive?

So, we don’t care about (1), (2) is unlikely and (3) is dangerous.  All of which leads us to the conclusion that you really have no good reason to oppose any decision by the President-Elect.  So if Clinton is appointed to State, that is for the best.  If Gates is kept on at Defence, that must be for the best.  And if Cheney were to be appointed to the EPA, that would be for the best also.  For we have shown that everything is for the best with this best of all possible Presidents.

Bonus!  “Best of all possible worlds” from Bernstein’s Candide below:

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One Response to “The Panglossian Presidency”

  1. One bomb at a time « Erehweb’s Blog Says:

    […] despite Warren’s anti-gay views.  But because you read this blog, you realise this is the best of all possible selections, and marks when many will lose faith in the new administration.  So what is Obama’s […]

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