Home/Daniel Larison/A Face That Sank McCain’s Ship? Not Likely

A Face That Sank McCain’s Ship? Not Likely

Palin’s beauty is not a political deficit, so why does Kathleen Parker assert that because Palin is beautiful, she is to be presumed unqualified? It’s envy, motivated by the same sour-grapes psychology that caused so many Republican pundits to dismiss Romney as “superficial” and “slick.” ~Robert Stacy McCain

That isn’t what Parker said.  For the record, I don’t think Parker’s argument in her latest column holds up very well, since the idea that McCain made the poor decision to select Palin because she was attractive assumes that McCain normally makes good decisions when not influenced by this kind of thing.  But Parker’s argument is not what R.S. McCain claims.  She doesn’t say that Palin is to be presumed unqualified because she is attractive, but that Palin is objectively unqualified for the job she is seeking (Parker and others have already made their case about this before) and so there must be some reason why McCain made such a phenomenally bad selection.  Parker goes awry in two ways here: she assumes that McCain was fully informed about Palin’s qualifications or lack thereof and chose her anyway, when we are pretty sure that this isn’t true, and she does not take into consideration that McCain may make irrational and poor decisions for entirely different reasons.  In its way, Parker’s column is giving John McCain the benefit of the doubt and giving him more credit for good judgement than he probably deserves by treating his mistake as a result of Palin’s appearance. 

As for Romney, he was considered superficial and slick because he seemed to have no core political beliefs that he would not abandon at the drop of a hat if there was some advantage in it.  He had looks and competence, but he seemed to have absolutely no shame when it came to reinventing his public persona into whatever he thought a given audience wanted.   

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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