George Will: Identity Politics for Me, Not for Thee

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Aug. 4 2014 8:52 AM

George Will: Identity Politics for Me, Not for Thee

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Struggling to fill those column inches

Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

August has come to D.C., which means the standards for filling column inches are dropping faster than the sundown temperatures in the desert. In his latest, George Will makes a manful effort by asking why Democrats don't think about nominating the well-liked Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown for president. Is it because Brown has made no effort whatsoever to promote himself for president? No, no—it's because Democrats are obsessed with gender and race, and do not want to restore the patriarchy to the White House.

Sherrod Brown won’t be considered because the Democratic Party’s activist core is incurably devoted to identity politics — the proposition that people are whatever their gender is (or their race or ethnicity or sexual orientation or whatever seems stupendously important at the moment). And the party’s base seems determined to nominate and elect a woman, thereby proving that what has occurred in Britain, Germany, Israel, India, Argentina, Brazil, Chile and other nations can happen here. Feel the excitement.
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It's so obviously immature to consider gender or race as criteria for a candidate. Unless, say, you are George Will, on July 25, explaining why Oregon's Republican candidate Monica Wehby is running a strong race for Senate.

Wehby not only has two X chromosomes but also supports abortion rights and the right of states to recognize same-sex marriages, which complicates the Democratic Party’s continuing accusation that Republicans wage “war on women.”

Or if you're George Will, on July 23, explaining why Neel Kashkari is a formidable contender for governor of California.

He relishes “turning upside down” the parties’ stereotypes. The Democratic candidate, 76-year-old Gov. Jerry Brown, is “the old white guy.” Kashkari, the 40-year-old son of Indian immigrants, was born in 1973, the year before Brown was first elected governor ... if California becomes a purple state and Democrats can no longer assume its 20 percent of 270 electoral votes, Republicans nationwide will be indebted to the immigrants’ son who plucked up Goldwater’s banner of conservatism with a Western libertarian flavor.

Or if you're ... wait for it ... George Will, on April 11, explaining why Michigan's Terri Lynn Land may be "the GOP's best answer to the so-called war on women."

Land represents Republicans’ most effective response to Democrats’ ­hyperventilating about the “war on women” — female candidates.

I tried to find a recent Will column in which he took on Republicans for their swerve into identity politics, and their failure to nominate some white guys who might have been better candidates on the merits. Came up short.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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