Obama was prepared

Part of the reason the current wave of slime doesn’t seem to be working is that it’s just too gross. Part of the reason is that the situation is just too dire.

But part of the reason is that Obama saw the flood coming and built some levees. Like a good Boy Scout, he was prepared.

Obama got a load of crap about the “dollar bills” remark at the time, even though McCain’s video with Obama’s face on the $100 had already come out. It cost him something in the polls. But that speech helped “poison the well.” It’s not an accident that the story this week has been less Ayers than McCain’s over-the-top attacks about Ayers. That’s the difference between a successful and an unsuccessful hit: if the press and the public choose to attend to the making of the charge rather than the charge itself, half its potency is lost, like a fairy-tale monster that disappears when you call it by its true name.

Maybe there’s a more valuable characteristic in a President than the ability to take sensible precautions now against threats that will predictably arise but aren’t yet visible. But I can’t think of one.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com