'Rejecting Experts'

Novak deserves credit for his honesty in owning up to the monarchist sentiment underlying Reaganism, but he fails his civics test when he claims that "electing a President is in some ways like electing a king." The basis of monarchy is a divinely appointed ruler who is unaccountable for his administration. This is not the job description of our chief executive as given in the Constitution, although there are some obvious similarities between a monarch and the current occupant of the White House.

Ronald Reagan, the Teflon President, never makes the mistake of answering his critics when he can subvert them with a deftly executed shrug and a wink before the TV cameras. He thus escapes accountability for taking us on history's greatest credit-card binge and wins the approval of those who would rather not think about paying the bill.

Novak also hypothesizes a class conflict between the "commoners" and the "aristocracy of experts," which is Reagan's variant on the us-versus-them smoke screen that corrupt rulers inevitably use to hide the injustice of their regimes. We like to hear that an imagined enemy is the cause of our problems, because it spares us from looking to ourselves for the solutions. Dukakis is prepared to make the difficult choices facing America's next leader and to assume accountability for his decisions. This gives him the potential to become an outstanding President; after eight years of quasi-monarchy we could surely use one.



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