Promises, promises

How many times must we hear some candidate say, "When I am president, on day one, I will … ” — you fill in the blanks. Close the Department of Something; reform the tax code; nuke Iran; balance the budget, repeal ObamaCare ... As if any of them could do that, given the limited (thank God, and the Founding Fathers) powers of the president. Why do their opponents or the moderators (there ought to be a better word for these weak links) let them get away with these patently phony boasts? They couldn't do these things they promise if they wanted to, so constrained is the political process.

I once interviewed the chairman of a major federal commission, who told me how frustrating it was to make change. He thought this was his dream job and that he could make a big difference in areas of his career expertise. But, he came to realize, he had to quarrel with his colleagues, deal with media, cajole Congress, fight lobbyists — and could really do only what he could manage with all these built-in constraints.

All Washington political experts and insiders know that no president can come to office and simply get things done, much less on day one.

So, next time during this long campaign season some candidate bloviates about how he will change America, he needs to be brought back to reality and told to stop the naive bluster and tell us HOW he expects to get these promises done.


Ronald Goldfarb is a Washington, D.C.- and Miami-based attorney, author and literary agent.