We have a situation today where presidential candidates must of necessity pretend that they are omniscient and omni-competent. Imagine a candidate having the honesty to say, “Hmm. Good question. I’m not sure I have an adequate answer.” We also have created a situation in which we seem to expect the presidential candidate to have a policy proposal for virtually any problem. Imagine a candidate saying, “That’s not a problem for the President to solve. That’s a problem that is best addressed by local communities. After all, the federal government, much less the presidency, is not tasked with solving every problem. And if it tried to do so, it would likely create more problems that it solved.” Both replies are losing strategies in an age where the president is looked to as the provider of all. This optimism always proves ill-founded, yet every election cycle the hope is rekindled. The rhetoric is dusted off, and the promises are made–promises that simply cannot be kept.
Maybe we'll be surprised and one of the candidates will acknowledge that he isn't the all-knowing answer to every one of America's problems. In which case, I just might spontaneously decide to vote for that guy. As Mitchell explains -- quoting the late great Christopher Lasch -- the reason why we shouldn't expect humility is due to the mediating role of television and big media in presidential debates. Under this influence facts are things to be manipulated and the worst sin is to be at a loss for words.