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Mandates Shmandates


Jim Geraghty jousts with Howard Dean and others who question whether Bush got a mandate. Geraghty makes good arguments for the benchmarks he defends. But I haven’t been able to participate in the mandate arguments myself with any enthusiasm, because it all seems so pointless. Presidential mandates exist when and to the extent that people–and, in particular, moderate legislators–believe that they exist. I don’t think the concept is capable of any definition that is both more objectively measurable and useful than that. Mandates are also overrated. Reagan’s 1984 mandate disappeared within a year and a half, and didn’t get him anything while it lasted. Bush has something more important than a mandate: allies in Congress.