Anyone who watched the last Democratic Debate likely heard Joe Biden swing for the fences and promise that he would select a woman as his running mate. Not some specific woman, mind you. Just “a woman.” This caught the attention of plenty of women, particularly among conservatives, and the promise was roundly criticized as being patronizing and insult to the X-X chromosome contingent. The response from New York Post columnist Karol Markowicz was typical of these complaints.
How do other women not see that “I’ll pick a woman for my VP” is an insult to all of us? Saying you’ll choose “a woman” instead of naming a specific woman is wildly patronizing.
— Karol Markowicz (@karol) March 16, 2020
Rushing to Uncle Joe’s defense at the WaPo is Bloomberg journalist Jay Newton-Small. Of course it’s not patronizing, she argues. It’s just common sense.
There’s no doubt that there are plenty of women qualified to be vice president. Indeed, this year, six of them ran for the top job, an historic field, including five sitting members of Congress. “The idea that picking the best qualified person is at odds with picking a woman, if ever true, is not in 2020,” says Martha Coakley, former Massachusetts attorney general. “Women have the experience, savvy and smarts to be a great VP and by extension, the President. Witness the Democratic Primary.” …
And is it patronizing to commit to choosing a woman running mate without naming her? After all, if not votes, what can a woman bring to his ticket that a man can’t? As with so much in this political era, so many of the old memes are being turned on their head. Here’s why Biden picked a woman, and how whomever she is will likely help him come November.
Newton-Small goes on to cite numerous examples from history to bolster her claim, all the while demonstrating an apparent lack of self-awareness that almost makes the column humorous. (Almost.) She goes on to discuss Biden’s presumed shortlist of possible VP picks, paying particular attention to Amy Klobuchar, Stacey Abrams, and Sally Yates for some reason.
Experience is what counts, we are told. Something that Sarah Palin (!) supposedly lacked, in the author’s opinion. Of course, Sarah Palin was just the governor of a state, with both legislative and executive experience. Stacey Abrams was… a member of a state house of representatives. Yates was in the cabinet, but at the deputy level. At least Klobuchar has been a prosecutor and a member of the United States Senate.
But none of that addresses the original charge. Quoting Martha Coakley, the argument that “picking the best-qualified person” can’t be “at odds with picking a woman” is gamely offered up. That would be a great point if anyone had actually said that. Nobody is claiming that there aren’t any qualified women. They’re bothered by Joe’s willingness to announce upfront that his veep’s gender will be the deciding factor rather than her qualifications.
Even if we ignore all of that, the entire argument is absurd, to begin with. You’re either saying that you don’t care if you pick the best person for the job as long as they are a woman or that women are inherently more qualified than men, which is just as bad as saying the opposite.
At least Biden didn’t make himself look more foolish by trying to explain away his promise the way Newton-Small and Joe’s other defenders are doing. Joe is vowing to eliminate one half of the population from the veepstakes for one reason and one reason only. He’s trying to calm the seething anger among the progressive base about all of the female and minority candidates being weeded out of the primary… by their fellow Democratic voters. And that’s also the sole reason that Joe’s leading contender is reportedly Stacey Abrams, despite having the least experience of any of them and never rising above the state assembly level. She checks both boxes.
But as noted above, Joe’s not even trying to hide his reasons. He’s clearly smart enough to realize it would be a lost cause trying to explain it away otherwise. He’s hoping to put some excitement back into the base, drive turnout and bolster minority and female support. His friends in the media would do better to simply let him get on with it than to try to rationalize the obvious pandering going on here.