Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Why some columnists make my head want to explode

Ross Douthat:
In this sense, she really is the perfect foil for Barack Obama. Our president represents the meritocratic ideal — that anyone, from any background, can grow up to attend Columbia and Harvard Law School and become a great American success story. But Sarah Palin represents the democratic ideal — that anyone can grow up to be a great success story without graduating from Columbia and Harvard.

But the point about Palin is not that she didn't go to Columbia and Harvard. She graduated from her state's flagship school, and I personally am very fond of such places. The point is that she went to five different colleges before graduating. Two, ok, but at three you start to wonder. But doesn't the fact that she went to five tell us something about her ability to follow through--to finish something? Hasn't her past behavior been a pretty good predictor of current behavior, and therefore likely of future behavior?


Mark Derricott said...


Obama attended two (Occidental before Columbia). In no way is this comment intended to take anything from your point, with which I could not agree more.

Richard Green said...

As I said, two is OK.

Robert Boyd said...

Ulp--I had three! (One was for a single class to make up one I missed.) Well, at least I never transferred because the weather didn't agree with me.

Anonymous said...

Yes. And it probably says more about mccain then i care to admit. Even when i disagreed with him, i thought of him as a heroic figure. Much less so now. I do not think his judgment is any better then Bush's and maybe worse. Say what you will about dick cheney aka the penguin. Nobody ever said he was stupid.

Anonymous said...

This column made my head want to explode for a whole bunch of reasons. I really loved the whiney tone, like "oh you mean meanymeanpants liberals have chased off a lovely woman by misrepresenting her religious extremism and family! Shame on you!" This made me snort because, you know, people have been so very extra special nice to Hillary Clinton the whole time.

The Republicans have nobody to blame but themselves for her attrition. They didn't prep her for stepping onto the national stage, where elbows are indeed thrown with regularity, in order to transition her from being a big fish in a small, homogeneous pond into the fray of national politics. She wasn't ready, and this isn't a function of her going to one college or another. The Dems did a much better job of brining along Barack Obama. Put the handsome, well-spoken young guy out there on the national stage during the convention--not after--because at the convention all anybody sees is the speech and the cheering. Then once a positive first impression is sealed, you turn them loose to get the cookies kicked out of them when they've already scored a positive public image. Instead, Palin got shoved out there to pee all over herself time and time again--and this last speech was just plain more of it. It isn't like Obama didn't make his fair share of mistakes, but he had a strong start to vitiate them.

The other thing I like is his distinction between the meritocracy and democracy. Let's not vote somebody based on merit, shall we?