The Credible Executive
The recent riots in Hungary apparently occurred because the prime minister admitted that he (as well as other members of the governing elite) lied to the public about the health of the economy. It is an odd feature of public life that everyone seems to think that politicians lie and yet are surprised when their lies are exposed (e.g., Clinton). Extreme suspicion about the president’s truthfulness can undermine his ability to act, and even the super-powerful American presidency can be undermined by public distrust as virtually every recent president has experienced (Johnson, Nixon, Reagan and Iran-Contra, Bush I and “no new taxes,” Clinton, Bush II and WMD). Is there any way for the president to enhance his credibility so that the public will support his policies and enable him to get things done? In this paper, Adrian Vermeule and I discuss some mechanisms. The abstract is below.