It seems the Barack Obama campaign is distancing itself from Austan Goolsbee, who is indeed a first-rate economist. Samantha Powers, who wrote a highly intelligent and heart-rending book on genocide, was dismissed last week for speaking her mind about Hillary Clinton. Of course no one doubts that such actions may be necessary, given that a Presidency can function only with some amount of message discipline. But think about the economics of message discipline. How many people are receiving the message? 300 million, plus some number abroad as well. What kind of messages do these people desire? What must be done to make these messages understandable and then to show that the promise behind the message has been met? Which kinds of advisors will flourish best in a "message consistency" environment? Independent and critical minds, able and willing to speak the truth to power?
Here is my question for the left-wing bloggers: How good would The Wire be, if it had to appeal to 300 million plus viewers? While it is obvious that politics is a form of mass culture, this point is not made with sufficient frequency for my taste.