Skip to main content

Mitt Romney learned the wrong lesson from Sarah Palin

Something I think many rank-and-file conservatives have misunderstood about the left's emphasis on diversity is that it's not just about getting women and minorities at the table for the sake of getting women and minorities at the table—it's often an attempt to tap and develop the talents of people who have traditionally been blocked from fully practicing those talents. Republicans tend to cast diversity efforts almost exclusively in terms of pandering—which may be why, when they get around to trying to promote diversity in their own ranks, they often do it in the worst, most pandering way possible.

Which brings us to Sarah Palin.

Shortly after she was picked for the GOP vice presidential nomination four years ago, I wrote—in a blog post that appears to be lost to the ages—that if it failed, Republicans would learn learn the wrong lesson from that failure—and see the problem more in Palin's gender than in her obvious deficiencies as a national-level candidate. Via Jonathan Chait, we see that's precisely what happened
"I think, unfortunately, Palin poisoned the well on that," said one informal Romney adviser, fretting that any woman selected as VP would draw inevitable comparisons to the former Alaska governor. "I would guess if I were inside the Romney mind that they're worried that any woman chosen will be subjected to a higher level of scrutiny. "
It's true that some of the attacks on Palin were sexist. However: Palin was subjected to a fair amount of scrutiny for a couple of reasons: A) She was largely unknown at the national level when John McCain selected her as his running mate. B) She avoided interactions with the press, making it appear she had something to hide. C) When she did sit down for in-depth interviews, it sure looked as though she wasn't adequately prepared for federal governance. She invited scrutiny precisely because she had never before been scrutinized.

If McCain had selected Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson—which wouldn't have happened for other political reasons—the dynamic would've been different. Yes, there would've been scrutiny on her as the first national female GOP candidate, but she was also a known quantity who would've been prepared to discuss federal issues.

But the lesson Republicans have learned from Palin's candidacy isn't: "Unprepared candidates are bad candidates," or "Polarizing candidates are polarizing" but "women are bad candidates." That's kind of sexist, but mostly it's dumb—and, if true, will deprive the party of some of its best and most energetic talent. Which is even dumber.


Popular posts from this blog


I've been making some life changes lately — trying to use the time I have, now that I'm back in Kansas, to improve my health and lifestyle. Among the changes: More exercise. 30 minutes a day on the treadmill. Doesn't sound like a lot, but some is more than none, and I know from experience that getting overambitious early leads to failure. So. Thirty minutes a day.

One other thing: Yoga, a couple of times a week. It's nothing huge — a 15-minute flexibility routine downloaded from an iPhone app. But I've noticed that I'm increasingly limber.

Tonight, friends, I noticed a piece of trash on the floor. I bent over at the waist and picked it up, and threw it away.

Then I wept. I literally could not remember the last time I'd tried to pick something off the floor without grunting and bracing myself. I just did it.

Small victories, people. Small victories.

Liberals: We're overthinking this. Hillary didn't lose. This is what it should mean.

Nate Cohn of the New York Times estimates that when every vote is tallied, some 63.4 million Americans will have voted for Clinton and 61.2 million for Trump. That means Clinton will have turned out more supporters than any presidential candidate in history except for Obama in 2008 and 2012. And as David Wasserman of Cook Political Report notes, the total vote count—including third party votes—has already crossed 127 million, and will “easily beat” the 129 million total from 2012. The idea that voters stayed home in 2016 because they hated Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton is a myth. We already know the Electoral College can produce undemocratic results, but what we don't know is why — aside from how it serves entrenched interests — it benefits the American people to have their preference for national executive overturned because of archaic rules designed, in part, to protect the institution of slavery. 

A form of choosing the national leader that — as has happened in …

I'm not cutting off my pro-Trump friends

Here and there on Facebook, I've seen a few of my friends declare they no longer wish the friendship of Trump supporters — and vowing to cut them out of their social media lives entirely.

I'm not going to do that.

To cut ourselves off from people who have made what we think was a grievous error in their vote is to give up on persuading them, to give up on understanding why they voted, to give up on understanding them in any but the most cartoonish stereotypes.

As a matter of idealism, cutting off your pro-Trump friends is to give up on democracy. As a matter of tactics, cutting off your pro-Trump friends is to give up on ever again winning in a democratic process.

And as a long-term issues, confining ourselves to echo chambers is part of our national problem.

Don't get me wrong: I expect a Trumpian presidency is a disaster, particularly for people of color. And in total honesty: My own relationships have been tested by this campaign season. There's probably some damage…