How to tell if you are a hopeless partisan

Do you complain about the vacations of presidents of the opposite party?  Than you are a hopeless partisan.  How frustrating to see a front page NYT story on this total non-issue.  Apparently, even some Democrats, though, did not like President Obama playing golf after giving a speech about James Foley.   Of course, that partisan cover lets journalists pretend this is a real issue (it’s not) and not just partisan sniping.

After playing a substantial role in enabling this current “controversy” with a tweet, Ezra doubles down and makes an extended argument that presidents should take real vacations where they put all their presidential responsibilities aside..  Sorry, that’s just not going to happen and it’s just not realistic.  The idea that Obama is supposed to just go be sad in private somewhere because of Foley is absurd.  Surely, as president he is privy to absolutely horrible information every day that would completely paralyze a person if they took it to heart.  The man is on his vacation– let him give a speech and then go play golf.  It’s called compartmentalizing and it’s healthy.  Ezra insists it was “insensitive.”  I disagree.  What he does with his official time as president and what he says in a speech is what matters.  What he does after that whether it’s watching a movie, reading sad poetry, crying in his room, or hitting the links is his business.  Maybe it is bad politics to play golf because people will write stupid stories like the above, but the problem is that people complain about the presidents’ working vacations.  Not that they take them.


Photo of the day

From a Big Picture Daily Life gallery:

Bob Grutza rides on horseback through his field of sunflowers, July 15,near Maysville, Ky. Grutza has five acres of sunflowers on his property. (Terry Prather/The Ledger Independent via Associated Press)

Women’s political ambition (or lack thereof)

I must say I hated the title of this Wonkblog post “Everything you think you know about women and politics is wrong.”  Really?  Time to revise my entire Gender & Politics syllabus, I suppose.  Alright, most readers don’t teach that class, but still, way too click-baity.

That said, a nice report on some interesting findings on women and political ambition.   What many people do not realize (which is not the same as being wrong) is that, across the board, women have substantially less ambition for political office than men.  And that, far more than anything else, accounts for the lack of women in political office.  The latest research from Jennifer Lawless (the ultimate guru of women and political office) shows that this is not at all about differences related to parenthood.  The gap between child-less women and men is pretty much the same as the gap between women and men with children.  Here’s the key chart:

So, what’s behind the lack of ambition.  Short version… men are overconfident, women are underconfident.  I suspect this difference extends well beyond politics.  Here’s the longer version from Lawless:

STP: How do you explain the disparity in terms of ambition and confidence about running for office. Is it that men think they are all that, and women don’t?

Lawless: Men overestimate and women underestimate. Men look around and see that lots of people come in all different shapes and sizes. But, for women, to the extent that you don’t fit the mold of say, Hillary Rodham Clinton or Sarah Palin, there is greater opportunity for self doubt. Although there is no female bias on Election Day — voters are just as willing to vote for women as men — but that is not the perception, so the women and men thought there was a perceived bias. Women think that they have to be twice as good to get twice as far. The women who are saying that they aren’t qualified are making assumptions based on wrong information, but information that happens to be the conventional wisdom. So getting out the message that people will vote for women is important.

I’m actually quite surprised that there’s basically no impact of family structure or responsibilities.  Personally, the idea of undertaking a grueling political campaign while also trying to do my part in caring for my children seems insane to me.  I’m too lazy to do it when the kids are grown, but it certainly seems more plausible.  Apparently, I’m unusual in thinking that way.  A good friend  is currently running for NC State Senate and her two children are under 5.  At a recent lunch she joked, but seriously, about hardly seeing her kids at all during the week (she’s also holding down a job).  More power to her for making the personal sacrifice because she really wants better for this state, but I am honestly surprised that raising children does not have more impact on political ambition.



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