If you recall, the Republican Party and their white voting base in general fulminate at the thought of minorities getting a few extra points for consideration in hiring practices. And on those rare occasions when such employees do not work out, they rally to lambaste the entire practice of affirmative action. Remember that Jayson Blair controversy at the New York Times several years ago? This is what the right-wing National Review had to say about it.
Was Blair — who never graduated from college — less qualified than other would-be journalists? That seems obvious. Indeed, the Times admits that he was hired through a diversity program. Presumably, had he been the best-qualified applicant, the program would have been superfluous. And we know that Howell Raines, the executive editor of the Times, considers diversity to be more important than journalistic excellence. Referring to the Times's outreach program, he told the National Association of Black Journalists: "This campaign has made our staff better and, more importantly, more diverse" [emphasis mine].
Was Blair's work not up to the standards of the Times? This is even more obvious and beyond dispute given the Times's description of Blair's work as a "low-point in our 152-year history." It should be noted, however, that Blair's correction rate, as discovered by The Weekly Standard, was below that of several top reporters, including Adam Clymer. Of course, Clymer also didn't fabricate quotes.
And lastly, is the Times's coverage influenced by its obsession with diversity? Well, using the Blair story as an example, that seems obvious too. And that's where my main beef is. I didn't think this was that big a story until I read the 7,000-word "investigation" of Blair, which revealed that the Times actually cares more about protecting the mythologies of diversity than about protecting its own reputation. Nowhere in its mea culpa did the Times give the idea that race had had something to do with this fiasco. The idea was raised only to be shot down — not discussed or investigated. Managing editor Gerald Boyd says, "To say now that [Blair's] promotion was about diversity in my view doesn't begin to capture what was going on." But why does he say that? Does anyone disagree? If this were a story about some non-diversity-related topic (say, white-collar crime or accounting fraud), a host of motives and explanations would have been presented — with quotes — for the reader to sift through himself.
When discussing this third criterion — Does diversity affect the substance of news coverage? — it doesn't matter if race was a tiny or irrelevant issue, because the Times refuses to treat the question as even a reasonable one. Is it really true that nobody in the Times organization believes race was a contributing factor? Or is it true that the authors of the mea culpa didn't solicit opinions on the subject? Or is it that Times employees are too scared to voice that point of view? Frankly, if the answer to any of these is "yes" then the Times simply cannot be trusted ever again on the issue of race — ever. Indeed, as Heather Mac Donald points out, the Times has preferred to insist that Blair didn't get any special treatment rather than even entertain the notion that diversity-mongering could have been a factor. That's fine, but it in effect puts the Times in the position of saying that this fiasco was the result of business-as-usual practices.
Here is what that same publication (via Canadian boot licker Mark Steyn) has to say about the nomination of Sarah Palin.
The hostess with the moosest [Mark Steyn]
Over in the Frumistan province of the NR caliphate, our pal David is not happy about the Palin pick. I am - for several reasons.
First, Governor Palin is not merely, as Jay describes her, "all-American", but hyper-American. What other country in the developed world produces beauty queens who hunt caribou and serve up a terrific moose stew? As an immigrant, I'm not saying I came to the United States purely to meet chicks like that, but it was certainly high on my list of priorities. And for the gun-totin' Miss Wasilla then to go on to become Governor while having five kids makes it an even more uniquely American story. Next to her resume, a guy who's done nothing but serve in the phony-baloney job of "community organizer" and write multiple autobiographies looks like just another creepily self-absorbed lifelong member of the full-time political class that infests every advanced democracy.
Second, it can't be in Senator Obama's interest for the punditocracy to spends its time arguing about whether the Republicans' vice-presidential pick is "even more" inexperienced than the Democrats' presidential one.
Third, real people don't define "experience" as appearing on unwatched Sunday-morning talk shows every week for 35 years and having been around long enough to have got both the War on Terror and the Cold War wrong. (On the first point, at the Gun Owners of New Hampshire dinner in the 2000 campaign, I remember Orrin Hatch telling me sadly that he was stunned to discover how few Granite State voters knew who he was.) Sarah Palin and Barack Obama are more or less the same age, but Governor Palin has run a state and a town and a commercial fishing operation, whereas (to reprise a famous line on the Rev Jackson) Senator Obama ain't run nothin' but his mouth. She's done the stuff he's merely a poseur about. Post-partisan? She took on her own party's corrupt political culture directly while Obama was sucking up to Wright and Ayers and being just another get-along Chicago machine pol (see his campaign's thuggish attempt to throttle Stanley Kurtz and Milt Rosenberg on WGN the other night).
Fourth, Governor Palin has what the British Labour Party politician Denis Healy likes to call a "hinterland" - a life beyond politics. Whenever Senator Obama attempts anything non-political (such as bowling), he comes over like a visiting dignitary to a foreign country getting shanghaied into some impenetrable local folk ritual. Sarah Palin isn't just on the right side of the issues intellectually. She won't need the usual stage-managed "hunting" trip to reassure gun owners: she's lived the Second Amendment all her life. Likewise, on abortion, we're often told it's easy to be against it in principle but what if you were a woman facing a difficult birth or a handicapped child? Been there, done that.
Fifth, she complicates all the laziest Democrat pieties. Energy? Unlike Biden and Obama, she's been to ANWR and, like most Alaskans, supports drilling there.
Sixth (see Kathleen's link to Craig Ferguson below), I kinda like the whole naughty librarian vibe.
Nice to see the Canadian compradors are well represented at National Review (I guess their beloved 'new Europeans' from Tbilisi were not able to make it after their dance with the Russians). I swear, if I did not know any better Mr. Steyn was vying for citizenship of our great republic (which would be ironic considering his views of immigrants in his country [although he only seems to care when they are black or Muslim]).
Getting back to the issue at hand, if conservatives were honest with themselves, like on the Clarence Thomas case, they would admit that they are partaking in the same kind of tokenism they accuse the left of on affirmative action. Indeed, it is even more blatant on their part because they are raiding communities who they know will not be voting for them, at least by majority, anyway. Of course, the difference for them is ideology (whereas we pursue it to actually increase representation of folks from all communities). Thomas and Palin are politically correct for the Republican Party, particularly when it comes to controlling women's birth canals or our rectums, but make no mistake: If they looked like Mark Steyn they would not be where they are at right now, which for the Steyns and Goldbergs of the world only is an issue when it is Jayson Blair or, goddess forbid, a regular working person receiving a few extra points for consideration on a civil service exam. In those cases, naturally, it is reverse discrimination.
In addition, remember the criticism of Obama for lacking experience? How about less than two years as governor of a state with more animal life than voters? Can you imagine the call at 3am in a foreign policy crisis with Sarah Palin? Actually, I could, not that it matters, but these were some of issues used against Obama during the primaries and now in the general election campaign. It seems if the right was less disingenuous they would just concede: Look, we are nominating a female to get Hillary voters who do not care if our veep is anti-abortion and anti-gay. Not that it will work, either. Somehow, I have a hard time imagining too many pro-choice Hillary voters deserting for this. If you doubt this, just ask Sarah Palin her view on the Violence Against Women Act, the Equal Rights Amendment, or the idea of legislating equal pay for equal work. Once you hear her start talking about the market and how women are better off being treated like something other than equal human beings, you will know who is writing her checks.
Then again, the nomination of Palin does shore up McCain's support among the ovaries control squad. I am sure they are saying their amens today, dodging the bullet of a pro-choice VP on the ticket. Praise be to Gaia.