Carol Platt Liebau - Columnist
Platt Liebau is a senior member of the CaliforniaRepublic.org
editorial board. She is an attorney, political analyst and commentator
based in San Marino, CA, and has appeared on the Fox News
MSNBC, CNN, Orange County News Channel, Cox Cable and a variety
of radio programs throughout the United States. A graduate
and Harvard Law School, Carol Platt Liebau also served as the
first female managing editor of the Harvard Law Review. [go
to Liebau index]
With A Full Deck
Rosario Marin & The Need to Transcend the Race Card
[Carol Platt Liebau] 12/8/03
is the kind of politician who undermines the very concept of
in the practice of politics. This is not
only because she herself is the Barbra Streisand of the Senate – combining
knee-jerk liberalism with strident self-righteousness. It’s
also because those very qualities, coupled with a tendency toward
whining, seem actually to invite invective on the part of those
who disagree with her.
A consistent embarrassment to the State
of California, Barbra Boxer reminds every Golden State Republican
why it is imperative that she be defeated next year.
And needless to say, finding the right candidate to take her on is central to
When it was
first announced that former U.S. Treasurer Rosario Marin was
to run against Boxer, the match-up seemed
Marin was born in Mexico City,
Mexico and grew up in very modest circumstances. Before being named U.S. Treasurer,
she served as mayor and councilwoman of Huntington Park, even as she worked for
AT&T as Public Relations Manager for the Hispanic Market in the Southern
California Region. She also worked in the administration of Governor Pete Wilson,
concentrating her efforts in the area of physical disabilities. A wife and mother
of three, Marin’s oldest son, Eric, was born with Down’s syndrome.
Marin is obviously a woman of talent and enterprise, and her achievements are
admirable. Given her background, it’s no wonder that the Democratic
Senatorial Campaign Committee is already sliming her – as it did with
an October 10 press release claiming that an appointment as U.S. Treasurer
actual importance. As a woman, a Latino and a more liberal Republican, it would
seem that she is the perfect candidate to toss out Barbara Boxer.
So far, however,
Marin has disappointed. The two speeches that this writer has heard her deliver
have been long on biography (including references to
Eric, that very nearly seem to smack of exploitation), but short on almost
everything else. Perhaps because she has been addressing female Republican
both occasions, her offerings have been long on “feelings” and
notably short on policy. We have heard how upset she was on September 11,
and what she
said to her husband on September 11, but nothing about what she believes
it will take, for example, to prevent another September 11. One is left,
of a Marin speech, with an uncomfortable choice: Judging from the candidate’s
performance, she is either fairly uninformed (and thus doesn’t dare
to talk policy) or else extremely condescending (deciding that her audience
is yet early in the campaign. But even so, Marin has been notoriously
about following up with many of the connections
she needs to make in
order for a statewide run to be credible. She failed to follow through
very much in a position to help her, who were approached initially to sit
on her campaign’s steering committee; this modus operandi appears
to be part of a pattern that suggests either disorganization or a lack
part of the candidate herself.
however, is the fact that Rosario Marin seems to believe that
get away with asking Californians to
support her only because she is Latino – not because of
anything she believes, or anything she wants to accomplish. Her
very slogan, “Adios Boxer!” indicates a propensity
to playing the ethnic card, and heavily.
wrong with appealing to the state’s Latino population – all
Republican candidates should be seeking to reach out to all the people of California.
But by defining the appeal of Marin’s candidacy solely in terms of her
ethnicity, both she and her handlers are apparently forgetting that Latinos
are not a monolith. And any campaign failing to realize that is doomed from
were any doubts on this score, the recall election should have
to rest. Cruz Bustamante run an entire campaign
based on little
brazen appeals to ethnic solidarity. And, of course, Gray Davis signed a
bill offering drivers’ licenses to illegal immigrants – without
any security safeguards. But the ethnic appeals didn’t
come close to carrying the day. A full 40% of Latinos opposed
awarding licenses to illegal immigrants,
and Bustamante won a higher percentage of the African-American vote (63%)
than he did the Latino vote (55%).
for the recall and Republicans generally increased with income.
The more affluent the voter, the more likely he or she was to support the
recall and a Republican replacement for Davis – in fact, in Latino
households with earnings above $100,000, fully 60% voted for one of the Republican
and 57% supported the recall.
differences in Latino voting patterns based on income, it’s clear that Latinos didn’t base their votes on
ethnic identity alone. And this fact confirms what Republicans
have always believed – naked ethnic appeals are not just
wrong, they are also bad politics. Cruz Bustamante’s dismal
showing demonstrated that, for political parties to win – Republican
or Democrat – they must put forth candidates of substance.
In the end,
a truly worthy candidate must have a reason to run – a
rationale grounded in principle, which transcends the simple
desire to hold a particular public office. Republicans, above
all, must remember that, properly understood, all issues are “Latino” issues.
Any appeal to Spanish-speaking Californians can, indeed must, move beyond so-called “Latino” issues like immigration,
to stress economic concerns like job creation and entrepreneurship – issues
important to every resident of the Golden State.
It’s not only the right thing to do – it’s
also good politics. And it’s the best way for Rosario Marin
to send Barbara Boxer home to Marin County.
CRO columnist Carol Platt Liebau is a political analyst and
commentator based in San Marino, CA.