The Politics of Paradox

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on September 4, 2012

Barack Obama says that he would give himself an “incomplete” when it comes to grading himself on the economy.

I’m betting that if things were going well, the president would give himself an A+ even if he had little to do with the economy’s successes. Recently, Walter Russell Mead pointed out that Democrats were rooting for Zeno’s Paradox–specifically, the paradox of Achilles and the tortoise–to govern at the polls. A form of the paradox appears to govern as well when it comes to the president’s willingness to take responsibility for the economy; so long as it is awful, the president may inch closer and closer to admitting that the buck stops with him, but he’ll never quite get to the point when he actually does.

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