Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Best Wishes, President Obama, But Low Expectations

. Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Robin Hanson, of the always-excellent Overcoming Bias, issues a challenge:

We've heard a lot of hyperbole about how Bush was the "Worst. President. Ever." and Obama's inauguration is the most exciting in a half century. So to avoid future bias, this is a good time to ask yourself: where do you set Obama's bar? That is, what does Obama have to do for you to consider him a "good" president, or even better than Bush? It is enough for you that he is (part) black and a Democrat? Or does he actually have to do something? Or are those already insurmountable barriers to you?

He has a list of things that will likely happen if an average president does basically nothing for the next four years, and asks people to predict whether Obama does more or less, and whether that would make him a good or bad president. Many of the items on his list have relevance to students of IPE or International Relations more broadly.

For my part, my expectations for Obama are low, but that's less a reflection on Obama (I voted for him) as it is a general cynicism with the American political process. It's easy to get caught up in the romance of the moment, but in the end there are more important things than symbolism and pomp-and-show. Of course I'd be happy to be proved wrong; I just don't expect to be.


Best Wishes, President Obama, But Low Expectations




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