Thursday, May 29, 2008

Ezra Klein on the Politics of Testosterone

Excellent piece by Klein touching on many salient points. The hook is buzz about Jim Webb as Obama's running mate. Klein notes that trying to out-macho Republicans is a losing game:

    But this is not a sustainable approach to politics. Democrats can't out-tough the GOP. It's possible that James Webb can do it. But he's sui generis; a Democrat who can win at politics when played under Republican rules.
What's special about Obama:
    [Obama's] policies -- particularly his domestic policies -- have not been half as innovative as his politics. But his willingness to double down on opposition to the gas tax holiday, to battle back on negotiating with dictators, to respond to attacks by pressing the point, has been genuinely exciting. And though he has been confident and even aggressive in all of this, he has not been "tough." He has not pretended to go shooting, or driven on to Jay Leno's show on Harley. He's essentially been making his own rules.
And the paradox of women in politics:
    Meanwhile, the sexism of our politics was far less present in Clinton's loss than the fact that she was the single woman on a stage of nine Democratic presidential candidates, and in a field, including the Republicans, of 20. Now, studies show that women do not, in fact, perform worse in primaries than men. In fact, in Democratic primaries, the evidence since 1990 is that they do better (see my article in the forthcoming American Prospect for more on this). But they run less often -- for a host of reasons, but one of which is that they think they're more likely to lose.
And more besides that. Go. Read. Now.

Oh, before you do, let's drop this idea of Webb as a running mate. The idea misunderstands Obama's greatest weakness -- it's lack of experience, not lack of manliness. He needs a running mate who is well-seasoned in government, preferably with some administrative experience, and from a part of the country that allows him to do some good. I'm not sure who that is, but those should be the criteria.

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