Monday, July 29, 2013

"Judged on the Merits", Part 355

Janet Yellen is one of the prime candidates to be chair of the Federal Reserve. She's certainly got the pedigree: Summa from Brown as an undergraduate and a Ph.D. from Yale, taught at (among other locales) Harvard and Berkeley, and currently a member of the Fed's board of governors. And among said governors, she's got the best track record in terms of predicting what the economy is actually going to do.

In short, it seems that by most objective metrics she's not just "a" candidate, she's the most qualified candidate.

Or, if you're a conservative, she's only being considered because she's a woman. "Gender politics" shouts the Wall Street Journal. The New York Sun was "put in mind of the cartoons" which mocked women's inability to do math, and asked if we are "entering the era of the gender-backed dollar." This is especially ironic because the folks smugly dismissing the woman with best predictive powers tend to be the same folks whose economic prognostication skills have been consistently awful.

In any event, this is yet another instance of the well-worn conservative trope -- judge people on the merits, not based on their identity -- being a false dichotomy. Conservatives time and again have demonstrated that it doesn't matter what your qualifications are -- if you're a woman, or a Latino, or African-American, or gay, or whatever group they think are today's "lucky duckies" because of their fortuitous oppression, you'll be viewed as suspect. Your qualifications will be a lie, your selection an example of affirmative action in motion. Nothing will change that.

And then, come election day, they'll wonder why their rhetoric of equality of opportunity and meritocracy fall on deaf ears. It's because it's all preach, no practice, and those victimized by it aren't idiots.