And that is saying something. But it's true.
The column in question, written by CNN's Ruben Navarette, Jr., starts by making the point that, with signs pointing toward Mitt Romney -- after floating Condi Rice, Marco Rubio, Bobby Jindal, and other non-white figures -- going with either Rob Portman or Tim Pawlenty (T-Paw!) as his VP pick, the Republicans appear to be close to, once again, nominating two white people on the presidential ticket. Nothing out of the ordinary so far.
But then a hint of the "both parties do it" inanity shows up:
This looks like a familiar tease, one used by Democrats and Republicans alike when selecting vice presidential nominees. It starts with casting the net wide, and floating the most diverse set of names possible to give voters the impression that the campaigns put a high premium on diversity.
But you might be thinking: wait a minute, Mr. Navarette. Vice-presidential nominees? You're criticizing both parties equally on the lack of diversity in VICE-presidential nominees? Which party nominated an African-American for NON-VICE president -- also known as president -- you know, the top of the ever-loving ticket? And which party is about to do so again?
But maybe that was just a tic. Maybe Mr. Navarette just forgot about that fact. Let's let one slide and see how the rest of the column goes.
Navarette goes on to urge Romney to do something other than pick a white male, to show that his party isn't just the party of whites, and makes some other reasonable statements on that theme. Then he goes back to "both parties do it."
After mentioning Geraldine Ferraro in 1984 and Sarah Palin in 2008, Navarette rattles off a list of white male VP nominees, right up to Joe Biden in 2008 (conveniently ignoring the truly historic nature of Al Gore's selecting a Jewish running mate, Joe Lieberman, in 2000. I guess that doesn't count as diversity, even though we live in a country where conservatives run around talking about America as a "Christian nation.") Then Navarette offers this gem:
Talk about a wasted opportunity. What would it have meant if, after more than 50 years of happy talk from Democrats, when the time came to act, it was actually a Republican who put the first Latino or first African-American woman on a presidential ticket?
Happy talk? Happy talk? No, the Democrats didn't nominate a black or Latino woman for vice-president. Do I really have to say this again? OK. Barack Obama. That's a hell of a lot more than "happy talk."
Then, finally, Navarette remembers the current president, and has this to say about the fact that one of the major parties nominated an African American for the top of the ticket:
For one thing, it would have meant that Democrats would have been put on the defensive, and forced to explain to some of their own liberal base why they hadn't broken those barriers years ago. Let's not forget that when the Democratic Party finally nominated an African-American for president, it did so only after a long and bruising primary campaign. It was a contest tainted by vicious race-mongering on the part of some supporters of Hillary Clinton.
Take a deep breath everyone. Yes, Mr. Navarette has just slammed the Democrats for not breaking "those barriers years ago," for not selecting (through an undemocratic choice made by one person) a non-white woman for vice-president, while essentially dismissing the groundbreaking nomination of the first non-white American for president because it only happened after, wait for it, an actual election in which tens of millions participated.
That election was "long" and some people did say racist things. Because it wasn't easy or a landslide or because there is still racism in America, Mr. Navarette seems to think it wasn't that big an accomplishment in terms of diversity to nominate a black man for president. He thinks that if Mitt Romney picks Condi Rice or Susana Martinez as his running mate, then Barack Obama and the party he leads will be "put on the defensive" when it comes to diversity and the presidential ticket.
Think about the stupidity of that statement.
But stupidity is what you get when you try to to shoehorn a false, "both parties do it" equivalency into an argument where both parties aren't doing it.
Mr. Navarette, if you want to criticize the Republican party for the lack of ethnic and racial diversity on its presidential ticket over the decades, and put some subtle pressure on Mitt Romney to break that trend, then do that. By all means do so.
But don't be afraid of being accused of 'partisanship' or being 'pro-Obama' or even, heaven forfend, a 'liberal.' Sometimes it's true, both parties do it. And sometimes Democrats deserve to be criticized.
But trying to criticize Democrats on diversity in their presidential ticket makes you look stupid. Incredibly stupid.
And this is what happens when media commentators strive for 'balance' instead of truth. They end up looking stupid.
Follow Ian Reifowitz on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ianreifowitz
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