Thursday, August 18, 2011

David Frum takes stock in the post-Palin GOP

David Frum has written Sarah Palin's political obituary, "Over the past three years, Palin has systematically laid waste to the basis for a presidential campaign. By her own words and actions, she has discredited herself and alienated her one-time supporters."

But before the GOP gives Palin the final kiss-off to political obscurity, Frum wants the GOP to "make an assessment and accounting" of what allowed them to have embarrassingly embraced such a dim-wit.

Frum lays out 3 lessons to be learned from the Palin debacle.

1. "More respect for brains as a qualification for the presidency"
Within days of the announcement of Palin as GOP running mate, it became obvious to everybody that she could not pronounce two coherent consecutive sentences on any aspect of national policy, foreign or domestic. A lot of effort went into arguing that this ignorance did not matter, or even that it represented a weird kind of plus factor.

Three years later, we no longer hear such excuses for Palin. But it remains true even now that Republicans do not take intelligence or expertise very seriously as qualifications for the presidency. Mitt Romney's smarts do him surprisingly little good; Rick Perry's non-smarts do him disturbingly little harm; and Michele Bachmann's out-beyond-the-Orion-belt substitutions for familiarity with life here on Earth only intensify the admiration of her fan base.

2. "Quit treating consumption patterns as substitutes for character"
....the choice of cowboy boots over loafers, enjoyment of hunting rather than bicycling, a preference for ketchup over mustard — these tell us precisely nothing about a candidate's character.

Yet it was precisely these kinds of irrelevant lifestyle choices that persuaded so many conservatives that Sarah Palin would be a fitting leader. She drops her "g"s! Her husband owns a fishing boat! She shoots moose! (Not really on that last point, but that's the story we were told at the time.)

3. "Involve more women as party decision-makers"
In the single month of October 2008, Sarah Palin's favorabilities among independent women dropped by more than 20 points. Within a year of Palin's appearance on the national scene, a plurality of female Republicans dismissed her as "unqualified" for the presidency....

In 2008, John McCain had a choice of three female Republican senators, two female Republican governors, and an array of Republican female CEOs, including Meg Whitman, who would gain the Republican nomination for governor of California in 2010....But there was one clear advantage that Palin did possess over her more traditionally plausible rivals: her looks....

What Ziegler said out loud, millions of American women discerned for themselves: Here was a woman candidate chosen by men who do not respect women. No surprise what happened next.

The first two points seem pretty obvious. I've wondered out-loud for years to Republican friends why the GOP is so often drawn to real dopes -- un-serious, incurious anti-intellectuals whose most obvious trait seems to be vanity. The answer, by the way, probably has something to do with the GOP best and brightest being too busy make real fortunes in business and needing someone in office dumb enough to be easily flattered into raping the environment and transferring as much government funds to the aforementioned business people as possible before the public sours on him and casts him off into obscurity. But I digress,...

But this last point is perhaps the most important. Republicans as a group are very hostile to women. Look at how they treated then first lady Hillary Clinton? It was a vindictiveness and hatefulness that was just obscene. And of all the Democratic foes for the GOP to point to these last 5 years, the most hateful and vitriolic treatment has been reserved for Nancy Pelosi. The choice of Sarah Palin was very telling of the GOP view of women.

No comments: