Saturday, August 30, 2008

Affirmative Action

This is how Republican affirmative action works. Republicans understand 'affirmative action' to mean the promotion of less-qualified women or minorities over better-qualified white men--the unspoken assumption being that women and minorities are inherently less qualified than white men. When it becomes advantageous to them to make a show of respect for people who aren't white males, they practice their own grotesque caricature of affirmative action: they find some under-qualified woman or minority member (the more ideologically pure, the better), and promote him or her to some position for which he or she is woefully unready.

Exhibit A: Clarence Thomas. Exhibit B: Harriet Miers. Exhibit C: Sarah Palin.

This is a win-win-win for the Republicans. More... When people criticize the person's lack of qualifications, or their ideoligical rigidity, it can be spun as hypocrisy ("Democrats say they're pro-[whatever], but only if the [whatever] toes the Democrat party line"). If the person in question doesn't fail miserably, they can point to him or her as evidence that the GOP isn't actively hostile to women and minorities. If the person does fail miserably, they can say "see? this is why affirmative action is bad."

Of course, all of this has nothing whatsoever to do with real affirmative action, and nothing to do with governing. Doesn't matter; they live inside their own caricature of the world, where the choice of Sarah Palin for vice president (for example) is brilliant, and not an insult to women or an elevation of political advantage over the good of the country.