Essay: DOES THE PRESIDENT REALLY KNOW MORE?

AMERICANS have a natural inclination to trust their President; the office makes him a kind of national paterfamilias endowed with special authority and wisdom. In any crisis, the instinct is to feel that the President knows best. When Richard Nixon undertook to send U.S. forces into Cambodia, one could hear the same response from Woonsocket to Wichita: He knows more than we do, he must be right. But does a President really have a great deal of special intelligence that is not available to the well-informed, concerned citizen? Sometimes yes, but often the...

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