In another paper, on the relationship between economics and policy, he writes,
In the academic world, where we routinely prepare papers that perhaps two dozen other people will ever read, the standards of evidence are quite strict. Proofs must be exact. Econometric techniques must be up to snuff. Scholarly papers routinely get rejected by journals for picayune errors. And what is at stake in the answer? Nothing but scientific integrity. But in the world of policy, where so much is at stake, the hurdle of evidence is set pathetically low.
His main conclusion:
good economic policy is best achieved through a series of carefully arranged marriages between cerebral economists and worldly politicos
This leaves popular opinion as something to be manipulated. The economist knows what is "right," and the politician knows how to work around public opinion.
I may be idealistic, but I think it would be better for the economist to communicate with the public than to try to use relationships with politicians to make an end run around the public. My thinking is that if the public were more receptive to good economics, then good economic policy would not be so difficult to enact. But that belief of mine may be a candidate for what Tyler Cowen calls an absurd claim.