Writing more than a decade before most of the world had ever heard the name Barack Obama, our dear, departed friend Robert Bork noted that President Bill Clinton had proposed raising taxes on “the rich”—not further defined. Taxes would go up even though credible analyses showed that raising them would not increase government revenues.
As Judge Bork ruefully admitted, he had taught Bill and Hillary Clinton constitutional law at Yale Law School—although to hear the Judge tell it, he was teaching while they happened to be in the room. Well, President Clinton may not have been much of a constitutional scholar, but he did have an acute understanding of the public mood and the political moment.
He knew how to read a poll.
In this instance, polling indicated that a substantial portion of the public favored higher taxes on high-income earners even if...