AMERICAN NOTES: Leading and Following

"I think I'm on pretty solid ground," said President Gerald Ford at his press conference last week, citing a poll snowing that 81% of Americans shared his opposition to a gasoline tax increase. Actually, the President was on very dubious ground in invoking public opinion to buttress a view that most experts — ranging from his own in the White House to even those in the automobile industry who will be hurt by such an increase — now believe is wrong. A President who simply followed public sentiment would be a cipher in the office, as Harry Truman recognized:...

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