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On Rand Paul And Diversity


I had a couple of points I wanted to make in response to this.

First, with respect to the narrow issue at hand, there’s not a great deal to say because I don’t think there’s any engagement with my argument, and our disagreement is much more narrow than Glenn seems to assume. For the reasons documented by Bijan, I don’t believe that the charge that we “have spent two straight weeks falsely suggesting that the leading supporters of Rand Paul’s anti-drone filibuster are males” is remotely accurate. The last paragraph, meanwhile, is simply non-responsive. I do not, and have never argued, that Democrats should refuse to collaborate with Republicans to advance goals; indeed, the post explicitly makes precisely the opposite point. Nor do I have an issue with praising the stances of Republicans I generally disagree with — I’m more than happy to, say, praise Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas (while criticizing Stephen Breyer) when their actions warrant it. My argument is not that civil libertarians should be skeptical of Rand Paul because he has terrible beliefs on a wide array of other issues. My argument is that civil libertarians should be skeptical of Rand Paul because he has terrible positions on civil liberties. While he did make a couple of gestures towards a more serious questioning of the arbitrary executive, the overwhelming thrust of his lengthy filibuster (and the exclusive subject of his proposed legislation) is on DRONES! rather than extrajuridical killings, and on American citizens on American soil rather than people. I consider this focus profoundly misguided and counterproductive. It ignores real problems to focus on mostly imaginary ones.

It is true that I think that, in some cases, seeing things in Paul that aren’t there reflects the same kind of contrarianism that compels writers prominent enough to write for Salon to farcically assert that Romney might be more liberal than Obama or that Romney’s judicial appointments might be similar to Dwight Eisenhower’s. There is a certain segment of the nominal hard left that is far more charitable to conservative Republicans than to moderately liberal Democrats, and this segment is the almost exclusive province of the privileged. But there are certainly other reasons for what I consider excessive optimism about the Paul filibuster, and I hope the optimists are right about it!

On the more serious question of our currently all-male masthead, I have a response here. The shorter version is that I agree entirely that underrepresentation of women in political journalism is a serious problem, and if we offered anything like jobs in journalism the fact that we don’t currently have any women in our regular rotation would be unacceptable. But we don’t — this is essentially still that increasingly rare thing, a personal blog. The trickle of advertising revenue means that someone writing several posts a week would make less in a month than she would selling a single 800-word article to Alternet. Very few people are willing to blog regularly for a blog that isn’t theirs for a de minimis income, and frankly someone writing for “exposure” has plenty of established magazines more than happy to publish people for nothing or next to nothing to choose from. So who joins is essentially serendipity. We’ve asked many more women than men to join the blog since bean left; it’s just that with one exception they haven’t been able or willing to join. We’re obviously hoping this will change sooner rather than later. Obviously, should this blog ever get institutional backing or the inevitable big check from Soros, greater diversity would be a necessity, but the problem would instantly become much easier to solve.

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