Megan McArdle has perhaps the best post on the subject–if your memory needs refreshing, John McCain said he thinks thimerosol causes autism. It doesn’t.

Her second point–that the expansion of the state makes us think presidents should have opinions on every subject–is perceptive, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Even with a large and active government, it really is an open position that the president could say “there’s experts at the CDC who’ll research the answer. Let’s leave the matter in their hands.” The temptation is for the political process to destroy the boundaries between the branches of the government that are devoted to politics and those devoted to … This temptation is the unavoidable cost of active government, and the response is to fight for transparency and noninterference. This is why I like reading undogmatic libertarians–it’s easy to see the problems if you already don’t believe in a large government.

Of course the demands of campaigning and schmoozing with lobbyists do a hell of a lot to make things worse. We’d be better off if we found a way to reduce that drain on our collective attention span.

Lastly, while we’re at it, some very compelling evidence that McCain is ignorant. In particular, he seems unable to remember his own positions, at least as they’re expressed on his campaign site.

Update: Here’s the backstory on McCain going all anti-vaccine.


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