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"You are a Mother of Five

and were a homemaker for many years before entering politics. You say ... the skills you honed doing those things were the same ones you needed when you got [into politics]. How so?"

"[A:] Absolutely, and this is what I want women to know, so they recognize the value of their own path, their unique experience. I've been in politics a while, ... and this is a very rough-and-tumble.... I shouldn't say 'rough,' let me say a very challenging arena to be in. But as challenging as it is, nothing is as challenging as raising a family -- nothing. That experience forced me to be disciplined, diplomatic, focused, and successful, and I brought that discipline and focus to [my political career]. Also, having a family keeps you focused on the future, which is the biggest inspiration in politics. In order to do what it takes to succeed in politics, you have to be inspired by your constituents, the power of your ideas, and the fact that you speak on behalf of children and their future, whether you have children of your own or not. It makes all the difference in the world...."

Very interesting. (The interview quotes are from here, though I've seen the same in yesterday's edition of The Wall Street Journal's Political Diary Newsletter, which I've always found to be reliable in its quotations.)

CJColucci:
Very interesting.

Where's the rest of the post, where you explain what's interesting about it?
9.12.2008 3:52pm
J. Aldridge:
Nancy makes a good point ... but I doubt she would hold the same holds true for Palin - you know, them Dem double standards with a dash of double-speak.
9.12.2008 3:53pm
ofidiofile:
well, it's obvious you're a sexist, mr. volokh. :p
9.12.2008 3:53pm
guy in the veal calf office (mail) (www):
The notion that having a family, and feeling responsibility towards it, reorients your view is inarguable, I think. Anyone who starts seeing the world as a place their children must negotiate , sees it completely differently.

I would add that her experience in running a commercial fishing operation with her husband, having him work as a union employee and having their children in public school delivers experience in how government invades private matters that neither McCain, Biden or Obama really understand. A visceral, real annoyance with intrusiveness might lead her to oppose larger government as more than an abstract creed.

Hopefully.
9.12.2008 3:58pm
Tucker (mail):
And she speaks like a real person, not like some politico-robot. That quality alone is going to help her enormously...

Why is it intersting? It's obvious. Any homemaker is going to read that and say, "Absolutely!"
9.12.2008 4:03pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
CJ Colucci: Use my adjectives for comparison, your mileage may vary.
9.12.2008 4:04pm
Jimmy Cool (mail) (www):
My mom will be so excited, now she can finally run for governor.
9.12.2008 4:06pm
Jimmy Cool (mail) (www):
Also, in light of the teenage pregnancy fiasco, does Palin really want to establish her performance as a mother as the quantum for her success as an executive?
9.12.2008 4:09pm
Houston Lawyer:
Going straight for the mommy vote. The best thing about the quote is the inability of critics to go after her for it without alienating the mommy vote. I love identity politics when they work to my advantage. This may be the first time that has happened.
9.12.2008 4:10pm
Shinobi (mail):
This answer reminds me of the bullshit we trotted out trying to get my boyfriend, the Chef, an IT job. "multitasking, fast paced high stress environment, dealing with difficult clients."

And sure, generic skills that you learn from your life experiences are useful in entry level jobs, the help get your foot in the door, they help you be better at your job. But if they are a substitute for real life experience, then why the hell am I still a junior nobody?

I've got 3 years experience, surely I am qualified to run my entire statistical department. I learned a lot of transferrable skills like organization and managing people when I was in college.

Seriously, how can you read this crap without your bullshit meter blaring? This is the kind of thing people say in interviews for jobs they are completely unqualified for. I know this, because not 3 years ago I was saying them.
9.12.2008 4:15pm
BlackX (mail):
Even with the clue in the second comment, it's interesting how many folks aren't getting it yet.
9.12.2008 4:19pm
Left Hander (mail):
What's interesting is that this isn't an interview with Palin, it's an interview with Pelosi. Guy in the Veal Office and Jimmy Cool, among others, miss that point.
9.12.2008 4:20pm
Turk Turon (mail):
What a sad, ridiculous excuse for a lack of experience! I have never in my life read such an absurd, self-serving ...

Oh, wait. I thought it was Palin.

It's Pelosi?

Well, then, it's an outstanding explanation of a woman's experiences applied to national and international politics.
9.12.2008 4:23pm
Jmaie (mail):
Shinobi, I'm guessing you have no children. Correct?
9.12.2008 4:25pm
Jiffy:
Again, why is this interesting? Pelosi argues that skills she honed as a mother have been useful in politics. So what? Most people would likely say that their life experiences made them better at their profession. Pelosi doesn't argue that her experience as a mother qualifies her to be the leader of the free world.
9.12.2008 4:25pm
AMB:
Okay, am I right that many folks are NOT getting that the quote that Eugene quoted is from NANCY PELOSI? Check out the link that Eugene gave you:

Those words that Eugene quotes are NOT the words of Palin; they are the words of Pelosi, from an interview with "Ladies Home Journal."
9.12.2008 4:29pm
josh:
First, and I'm asking this honestly, has nancy Pelosi said that Palin's family circumstances disqualify her for the VP slot?

Second, is the implication here that Pelosi couldn't apply the same quote to Palin and still say, despite the experience garnered from being a homemaker, Palin is still unqualified for being VP? Are they mutually exclusive propositions?

As to Jiffy's point, Pelosi is third in line. It's hard to argue that experience as a mother makes you qualified for third in line but not second.
9.12.2008 4:32pm
VectorAK (mail):
"Pelosi doesn't argue that her experience as a mother qualifies her to be the leader of the free world."

Ridiculous, don't set the bar that low. She has bigger things to do:

Pelosi

""I'm trying to save the planet; I'm trying to save the planet," she says impatiently when questioned. "I will not have this debate trivialized by their excuse for their failed policy."
9.12.2008 4:33pm
Just a thought:

Again, why is this interesting? Pelosi argues that skills she honed as a mother have been useful in politics. So what? Most people would likely say that their life experiences made them better at their profession. Pelosi doesn't argue that her experience as a mother qualifies her to be the leader of the free world.


This is the time to point out that Nancy Pelosi is only 2 hearbeats away from President and leader of the free world. See here.
9.12.2008 4:34pm
phillybikeboy (mail) (www):
Without context, it is a bit misleading, no? Between being a mom and third in line to the presidency, Pelosi had fifteen years of national service, including the Appropriations and Intelligence Committees. Both may have had the same skill set when they entered politics, but what they've done with them, and the time they've had to develop them in the meantime is quite different. Just because you don't have training wheels on you bike does not mean you belong in the tour de France.
9.12.2008 4:40pm
fullerene:
Another point worth making is that Pelosi's youngest child was a high school senior when she first ran for office. Pelosi traded the challenge of raising children for the challenge of political life. This progression also helps explain some elements of the quotation.
9.12.2008 4:42pm
josh:
To continue my prior post, could Pelosi agree that motherhood experience prepared Palin for VP in respects, but Palin's inability to, say, cogently discuss the Bush Doctrine shows lack of experience/preparedness?

Similarly, could the woman who said the words linked to by EV (Pelosi) cogently discuss the Bush Doctrine, regardless of her thoughts on motherhood?
9.12.2008 4:42pm
Ari (mail) (www):
"But as challenging as it is, nothing is as challenging as raising a family -- nothing."

The fact that well over half of American citizens attempt to do just that somehow renders her statement less than plausible. The difficulty of being a parent is often grossly exaggerated -- nothing is more challenging than raising a family? Really? Not developing nuclear weapons, not running a country, not reading ancient Sanskrit literature? Why, then, are there so many people employed in the former and not the latter?

Before you say that she's merely employing a bit of hyperbole, or that she's cynically grasping at the mommy vote, consider that one hears this from many, many people about their chosen professions (especially unionized professions). It's common to hear police and firefighters and soldiers talk about the ludicrous difficulty of their jobs and how they deserve more respect than anyone else. What is so grating is how any challenge is immediately confronted with "You don't know what I do everyday," or even "You couldn't even begin to imagine the difficulty of my job." These statements effectively bludgeon people into submission: Who would deny that police, firefighters, soldiers, and mothers all play important roles in our society? (For they do: These jobs are critical, the very foundations of modern life.) These are such big constituencies that no one ever does, and so nonsense like this goes unchecked. Most people could make at least a decent stab at raising a family; very, very few could comprehend the nature of our universe as Einstein could.
9.12.2008 4:43pm
fullerene:

This is the time to point out that Nancy Pelosi is only 2 hearbeats away from President and leader of the free world.


Pelosi is now 68 years old, has been active in politics since at least the 60s, and has been an elected member of Congress for 20 years. Experience may not count for anything, or worse, it may disqualify you among many voters, but that does not change the fact that Pelosi has experience. Oh, yeah, and she gave birth to five kids.
9.12.2008 4:46pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
The NYT has an interesting editorial on picking a little-known woman as a Vice Presidential candidate:

One might even say demography is destiny: this candidate was chosen because he could deliver Texas, that one because he personified rectitude, that one because he appealed to the other wing of the party. On occasion, Americans find it necessary to rationalize this rough-and-ready process. What a splendid system, we say to ourselves, that takes little-known men, tests them in high office and permits them to grow into statesmen. This rationale may even be right, but then let it also be fair. Why shouldn't a little-known woman have the same opportunity to grow? We may even be gradually elevating our standards for choosing Vice Presidential candidates. But that should be done fairly, also. Meanwhile, the indispensable credential for a Woman Who is the same as for a Man Who - one who helps the ticket.
9.12.2008 4:47pm
CJColucci:
That it was Pelosi rather than Palin who said it just proves the utter lack of interest in the statement. Of course it's true, any mother can say that. And because it's obviously true and any mother could say it, it isn't interesting.
9.12.2008 4:47pm
ofidiofile:
AMB:

yes, yes, i (we?) know it's pelosi. so...?
9.12.2008 4:48pm
epeeist:
[SPOILER WARNING]


Re Jiffy, "Pelosi doesn't argue that her experience as a mother qualifies her to be the leader of the free world."

Well, actually, as Speaker of the House she's right behind the VP in succession...and she is arguing that her experience qualified her to do well in politics.

I disagree with her assertion, but still find it very amusing and like how Eugene Volokh posted it without revealing the speaker -- I assumed it was some past quote from Gov. Palin until I was clued in by a prior poster to click the link. "Motherhood and apple pie" is good, until it's a political opponent (in fairness, I don't know what if anything Speaker Pelosi has said about Gov. Palin).
9.12.2008 4:48pm
Jmaie (mail):
Why, then, are there so many people employed in the former and not the latter?

Because it's really, really easy to start a family. The hard part comes later.
9.12.2008 4:48pm
Kazinski:
I think EV and others miss the point: only Democrats speak for the children.
9.12.2008 4:57pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
josh.
As you know, and as the rest of VC commenters know, Gibson got the Bush Doctrine mixed up. Not Palin.
You should peddle that stuff at a group home.
9.12.2008 5:02pm
fullerene:

I think EV and others miss the point: only Democrats speak for the children.


And only Republicans actually have them.
9.12.2008 5:03pm
tgb1000 (mail):
So is this supposed to be some sort of gotcha on Nancy Pelosi? So far I see no links to Rep. Pelosi stating that Gov. Palin's parental status makes her unqualified. (She may have said something like that, but I haven't seen it.) Yet half the commenters here seem to be implying hypocrisy (or worse) on her (Pelosi's) part. The rightwing outrage machine is impressive in its relentlessness, if nothing else.
9.12.2008 5:07pm
Snaphappy Fishsuit Mokiligon:
"and were a homemaker for many years before entering politics. You say ... the skills you honed doing those things were the same ones you needed when you got [into politics]. How so?"

My honest, Obama supporter assuming this was about Palin reaction was: OMG I can't believe Charlie asked that sexist question. The republicans are going to howl! The answer I thought, was not bad except for the line about raising a family being the greatest challenge in the world. (I am a parent).
9.12.2008 5:11pm
ink blot:
Boy Gene, this is the best Rorschach test I've seen.
9.12.2008 5:24pm
Jiffy:
Thanks to several commenters for pointing out that Pelosi is third in line for the Presidency, but I actually knew that already. So, slowly, here is my point: Pelosi was making an unremarkable statement that her life experiences, including her experience as the mother of five children are useful in politics. Presumably, EV's suggestion that Pelosi's quote was "very interesting" implies that Pelosi's statement is at odds with criticisms of Palin's qualifications to be President since Palin, too, is the mother of five. I fail to see the conflict, since Pelosi didn't say her experiences as a mother qualified her to be President.

Put another way, I don't understand Palin's critics to say that mothers of five can't be qualified for the presidency, just that this particular mother of five isn't.
9.12.2008 5:33pm
Michael Drake (mail) (www):
"But as challenging as it is, nothing is as challenging as raising a family -- nothing."

Save perhaps paying minimal attention to the foreign policy basics that have been furiously discussed over the past six or seven years.
9.12.2008 5:42pm
theobromophile (www):
Indeed, very interesting, EV. Thank you for posting.

In coming years, we will see more women transitioning from family into work, as highly educated women have kids and go back into the working world (or take the Sarah Palin PTA mom to mayor to...???) path. It would be nice if we had bipartisan support for motherhood as not time spent away from the serious working world, but time spent with one's family, developing skill sets that can be an asset.
9.12.2008 5:43pm
theobromophile (www):
Er... misplaced parenthetical. Mea culpa!
9.12.2008 5:46pm
rarango (mail):
"Just a thought" beat me to it.
9.12.2008 5:49pm
hawkins:
The point is equally absurd coming from Pelosi as from Palin.
9.12.2008 5:51pm
subpatre (mail):
hawkins says "The point is equally absurd coming from Pelosi as from Palin."

But it didn't come from Palin. The criticism of 'mommy isn't politically experienced' comes from junior Senator Obama's camp, Kos and MoovOn. The senior Democrats say parenthood is good preparation for politics; while the junior Democrats think Palin (and Pelosi) are unqualified.
Cute.
9.12.2008 6:07pm
tgb1000 (mail):
Cheney and Rumsfeld had qualifications and experience out the wazoo, and what did they do? Invaded the wrong country. So maybe experience isn't all it's cracked up to be. Bring on the gun totin' Bible thumpin' hockey mom; she can't possibly be any worse.
9.12.2008 6:10pm
Jeffery W Wilson (www):
Jimmy Cool:


My mom will be so excited, now she can finally run for governor.

Even better...Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives -- two heartbeats away from the top!
9.12.2008 6:21pm
theobromophile (www):
Bring on the gun totin' Bible thumpin' hockey mom; she can't possibly be any worse.

Famous last words....

(...and I'm a Palin fan.)
9.12.2008 6:22pm
Jeffery W Wilson (www):
Michael Drake:


Save perhaps paying minimal attention to the foreign policy basics that have been furiously discussed over the past six or seven years.

The revision history of the Bush Doctrine "article" at Wikipedia is one of the best arguments I've seen lately against using Wikipedia as a reference anything remotely controversial. There were over 250 revisions today alone.
9.12.2008 6:35pm
Assistant Village Idiot (mail) (www):
Jiffy, a little bait-and-switch there. Don't condescend. Pelosi quite clearly indicated that her experiences as a mother was an important, though not sufficient, qualifier for politics in general. Last I checked, running for VP fits under the category of "politics in general." The implication of hypocrisy is not toward Pelosi, but to those progressives who might be expected to like Pelosi but are complaining about Palin.

What irritates me is that you must have known that, but chose to make it look like EV was making a claim you found easier to refute.
9.12.2008 7:12pm
SG:
the best arguments I've seen lately against using Wikipedia as a reference anything remotely controversial.

Wikipedia should only be considered authoritative on matters relating to Star Wars and Star Trek. All other topics are a crap shoot.
9.12.2008 7:16pm
John D (mail):
Jimmy Cool noted:

My mom will be so excited, now she can finally run for governor.


Yeah, but my grandmother is a mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. I think she gets dibs. Heck, let's make her the presidential pick. Sure, she's a little younger than McCain's mother, but I don't think Roberta McCain has any great-grandchildren.
9.12.2008 7:57pm
Jiffy:
Assistant Village Idiot:

I agree that EV's post was aimed at the supposed "hypocrisy" of "progressives who might be expected to like Pelosi but are complaining about Palin." My point is that there is nothing hypocritical about that position. Those progressives are saying that Palin isn't qualified to be President; they may think that Pelosi is qualified. But the facts that both Palin and Pelosi are mothers of five and that, as Pelosi unremarkably suggests, some skills learned from being a mother of five may be useful in politics, don't make the progressives' opinions about Palin and Pelosi inconsistant.
9.12.2008 9:08pm
Brian K (mail):
why aren't the conservatives who held up palin's family as evidence she'd make a good VP heaping similar praise on pelosi?

in his attempt to point out they hypocrisy of liberals EV also managed to point out the hypocrisy of conservatives.
9.12.2008 10:21pm
Malvolio:
Wikipedia should only be considered authoritative on matters relating to Star Wars and Star Trek. All other topics are a crap shoot.
People like taking shots at Wikipedia but I always wonder, "Compared to what?"

Certainly, no publication is within an order of magnitude as comprehensive, and if any publication is more accurate, I haven't heard about it.

So, truly encyclopedic, top-of-the-class accurate, and ubiquitous -- what do you want for free?
9.13.2008 12:59am
Andy Freeman (mail):
> Palin's inability to, say, cogently discuss the Bush Doctrine shows lack of experience/preparedness?

Which Bush Doctrine? Bush doesn't use the term, but Wikipedia's discussion says that it is actually several doctrines. Bush critics use the term to cover a variety of policies.

Palin asked which "Bush Doctrine" was being asked about and given that answer answered the question.

Should she have guessed what the interviewer meant instead?
9.13.2008 2:23am
David Warner:
Brian K.,

"in his attempt to point out they hypocrisy of liberals EV also managed to point out the hypocrisy of conservatives."

What makes you so sure this wasn't his intent?
9.13.2008 2:30am
Steve in CA (mail):
Palin asked which "Bush Doctrine" was being asked about and given that answer answered the question.

Not quite. If Palin was unclear about which facet/version of the Bush Doctrine Gibson was referring to, she could have asked that. Instead, she said, "you mean his worldview?" She appeared to have never heard the term before.

Anyone who's been paying attention to politics and foreign affairs for the past 7 years would at least know that the "Bush Doctrine" refers to Bush's foreign policy. Charlie Gibson may not have given the perfect definition, but Palin didn't have one at all. It was embarrassing to watch.
9.13.2008 4:41am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
People like taking shots at Wikipedia but I always wonder, "Compared to what?"


I was going to ask the exact same question. I think it's kind of like democracy: a terrible system, but still much better than whatever's in second place.

I find generally that the people who take shots at Wikipedia tend to be the same people who make lots of claims while providing no source whatsoever (although I'm not saying that's true about the two people in this thread who took shots at Wikipedia).

I read Wikipedia with the same skepticism I apply to everything else I read. But I like the fact that it lets me easily verify the claims that are being presented.
9.13.2008 10:49am