Political Calculation Isn't Everything

Andrew Sprung expands his critique of political scientist and blogger Jonathan Bernstein:

I don't think it's terribly controversial or clever – or naive – to posit that sometimes an elected official's understanding of good politics will conflict with her understanding of good policy; that sometimes a politician will have to choose between the two; and that sometimes – including when the stakes are highest – politicians choose against political advantage.  In Taylor Branch's The Clinton Tapes, Clinton asserts – credibly, I think – that he acted against his short-term political interest in the Mexican bailout, the Aristide restoration, and the bombing of Serb targets in Bosnia; he also confesses that he was unwilling to expend the necessary political capital to reverse a policy he considered stupid, the Cuban embargo.  I think George W. Bush is also credible in asserting that he placed the national interest as he perceived it against the short-term interests of his party.  I think these points are so self-evident that I suspect Bernstein will claim that I've oversimplified or misrepresented his presentation of the relationship between politics and policy.  And it may be so – but not in the posts I cited.