Obama Flips On NAFTA

No surprise there. Phil Levy wonders what it means:

Does this matter? The election is long past. Perhaps it is just naïve to think that politicians will keep their word....Had the administration followed through on its commitment to renegotiate NAFTA, it would have soured relations with our two closest neighbors, with no evidence that the desired change (incorporating labor and environmental commitments into the body of the agreement) would have any real benefit.

Put differently, though, the answer may seem less obvious: Does it matter whether a leader persuades the public of a policy's merits? Is it a viable approach to convince the citizenry that a policy is bad, and then to pursue that very policy? It will depend on the extent to which a president can act autonomously, without relying upon either firmly-rooted public support or the support of institutions that are more sensitive to public opinion, like Congress.