Krugman's Op Ed here
is mostly about whether we need another stimulus. But he touches on the more difficult problem of modern politics -- changing course.
Nothing better highlights to problem for the politician wise enough to change course in the face of real world data than Obama's press conference where he increased the heat on Iran. The glee with which some reporters pounced ("What took you so long" is a direct quote) shows the mentality of the modern press. Even those who are not branding themselves as your detractors are happier if they can nail you.
Hence Karl Rove's political advice to never apologize and never admit to a course correction. Over time, of course, this policy became equally ridiculous. In a world where "That which is sealed with the ring of the king may not be recalled," we inevitably run into the problem that the leaders of the country setting policy are human beings. If they cannot admit error and correct course, we will inevitably end up further down the wrong track.
Which brings us back to Obama and a news media consumed with treating political discourse like a spots game, in which one team will always win or lose by the latest move. To compound our problem, the news media has also generated an atmosphere of permanent election -- or am I the only one who finds it ridiculous we are debating the possible candidates for 2012?
On days like this, I wonder if it would not be such a terrible thing, in the short term, for the news media to die as they keep threatening to do. More seriously, we need a hardier breed of politicians, capable of ignoring the instapolls and chattering classes and thus holidng a steady course, but not so tone deaf to the realities of politics that they cannot change course at need.