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]
Diagnosis, Wrong Prescription
Garry South’s “Words of Wisdom” to the
[Carol Platt Liebau] 2/9/04
from a stint as an advisor to the presidential campaign of Joseph
Lieberman, Democratic strategist Garry South – best
known as Gray Davis’ hatchet man – has re-emerged.
Writing in The Sacramento Bee yesterday, he purports
a California GOP desperately trying to win the U.S. Senate
seat currently held by Barbara Boxer.
character, it’s not surprising that South’s
counsel comes in the form of an attack – on Arnold Schwarzenegger,
for having endorsed for the Senate seat former Secretary of State
Bill Jones, a white male, over Rosario Marin, a “pro-choice
Latina, [who] looks heaven-sent for a party in trouble with Latinos
and women.” South’s pithy one-liner: “Mars
rover to California Republicans: You have a white male problem.”
any Republican willing to take Garry South’s
advice at face value needs to have his head examined. After years
of slash-and-burn campaigning on behalf of Democrats, even Barbara
Boxer could figure out that he doesn’t have the best interests
of the state’s GOP at heart. His column is a thinly-veiled
effort to assail Republicans for being “an Ol’ Boys’ Network.” Even
so, there is reason for paying attention to South’s critique.
Republican Party does, indeed, have a “white
male problem.” The issue isn’t that white males dominate
the party – or even that they run the party hierarchy.
As always, the most qualified individuals should be the ones
making the big decisions – whatever their skin colors.
And it’s insulting and deeply demeaning to the “Latinos
and women” to suggest, as South does, that they would decide
whom to support based on nothing more than skin color and gender.
Seeing individuals and defining their “interests” as
nothing more than the sum of their physical attributes is the
pathology of the modern Democratic Party – a disease that
Republicans would do well to avoid.
South’s ritual liberal genuflection to the
gender/ethnic gods, however, there is indeed something troubling
about today’s California Republican Party: For the most
part, no one in charge seems even remotely interested in attracting
and recruiting qualified women who share the party’s principles,
and who are willing to work in and outside the government on
the Party’s behalf. Too often, one has the sense that the “powers
that be” find it easier just to continue to do things as
they’ve always been done – not at all through malice,
bigotry or deliberate intent (as liberals like South would have
us believe), but instead through sheer bureaucratic inertia.
And while a lackadaisical approach may be good enough for the
Post Office, the California Republican Party, full of talented
and committed idealists, can do much better.
strong arguments to be made about why Republican policies and
the best guarantors for a prosperous, thriving
and harmonious California. And there are Republican women throughout
this state who would welcome the opportunity to have a platform
upon which to advocate for Republican policies – without
asking anything in return except the chance to make a case for
the convictions that they cherish. I know – I am one of
them. And despite repeated efforts to reach out to the party,
I am still waiting for the party to reach out to me (notwithstanding
a very gracious note from Duf Sundheim, Republican Party chairman).
I am a committed Republican, and I will remain one. But my experience
with the California Republican Party isn’t as aberrational
as it should be.
the state Party’s shortcomings, seeking the
wrong remedy for them would only compound the problem. The worst
mistake would be for Republicans to begin embracing weak and
unqualified candidates just because they are women. Politics
is a competition – and it’s each party’s obligation
to put forward the strongest standard bearer, whether he or she
comes from the liberal or conservative wing of the party. And
today, offering an unambiguous bear hug to Rosario Marin would
be a mistake – because, quite simply, she is not the Republicans’ strongest
South notes, Ms. Marin’s personal biography is
a compelling one, and she is by all accounts a very lovely person.
But her knowledge of the issues seems tenuous, her speaking skills
need improvement, and she appears to have significant difficulty
following through either with potential supporters or potential
donors. Most damaging of all, she exhibits a tendency to whine
about alleged unfairness. Her campaign’s petulant complaints
that the Jones campaign was offered extra time to file a statement
for a state web site and her insinuation that Arnold Schwarzenegger
lacks insufficient interest in “inclusion” because
he endorsed Jones are just two examples. Whining about perceived
unfairness is a serious deficiency in any political candidate,
especially a woman – particularly when that woman is trying
to argue that she’s tough enough to take on Barbara Boxer,
who’s legendary for her ugly smear campaigns.
this, no doubt Garry South would love to see Rosario Marin
as the Republican
nominee, just as his article suggests.
But support for a Latina nominee based on nothing more than her
ethnicity and gender isn’t the best way to address the
state Republican Party’s failure actively to develop female
leaders and seek the help and support of Republican women.
said, and setting aside his flawed prescription, Garry South
have stumbled upon a helpful diagnosis
of a Republican shortcoming – one that Party leaders ignore
at their peril.
CRO columnist Carol Platt Liebau is a political analyst and
commentator based in San Marino, CA.