Whatever one makes of either one of them, the similarities between Sarah Palin and Carly Fiorina (who’s just announced she’s running for president) stop more or less at the chromosomal level. Fiorina is an accomplished (if controversial) businesswoman; Palin, a half-term governor and television star. Fiorina is a graduate of Stanford (with a degree in philosophy and medieval history) and MIT (with a master’s in management); Palin received a degree in, alas, journalism. Fiorina is an unusually articulate for a candidate for public office; Palin is . . . well, Sarah Palin.
Still, the (new) New Republic has developed a bizarre obsession with likening Fiorina to Palin. Last month, an article asked whether “Fiorina is the new Palin.” The evidence: that both Palin and Fiorina had at times criticized Hillary Clinton. Of course, by that standard, Ted Cruz, Barack Obama, and Bernie Sanders are all the new Sarah Palin.
This week, the magazine once again claims that Fiorina is positively Palin-esque. Staff writer Rebecca Leber writes:
[Kellyann] Conway says that in her focus groups, voters never compare Fiorina to another socially conservative candidate who was once seen as a Washington outsider and inspired widespread praise from the right: Sarah Palin. But the praise for Fiorina is akin to the right’s (especially Kristol’s) embrace of Palin in the 2008 race, when the party expected Palin, as McCain’s vice-presidential pick, to propel the ticket into the White House. In Rising to the Challenge, Fiorina recalls Palin's appearance at the Republican National Convention: “She was an unknown quantity to me, but her candidacy added needed excitement and energy to the race.” That sounds a lot like Fiorina’s pitch for herself.
This is a classic example of meeting necessary but not sufficient conditions. Sarah Palin was a Washington outsider who was popular among some conservatives; Fiorina is also a Washington outsider who is popular among some conservatives. But that does not mean they are equivalent.
Fiorina, as a philosophy graduate, could undoubtedly explain this concept to the good people of the New Republic.
John R. Searle, the Slusser professor of philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley, is a philosopher in the tradition of Wittgenstein. He wants to clarify things. That is, he thinks there are two big mistakes philosophers have made throughout history, and Descartes popularized both.
An MSNBC reporter asked Rick Perry in an interview that aired this morning whether the Texas governor is "smart enough to be president of the United States." Perry responded that "running for the presidency is not an IQ test."
Anniversaries come thick and fast. But 500-year marks are still rare, reminders of a simpler time, a different world. We look back to Columbus and forward to the Reformation without understanding the epochal revolution in between that made our time, our world.
On board the ms Noordam sailing from Italy to Greece, with a break from both sightseeing and panels, it seemed advisable to me 1) to ignore the goings-on in Washington, and 2) to find time for an article I'd set aside to read, Harvey Mansfield's "Machiavelli's enterprise" in the October New Criterion. Mansfield uses the occasion of the 500th anniversary of The Prince to provide an explanation of the famous first paragraph of its fifteenth chapter. In doing so, Mansfield provides an extraordinarily compressed but accessible account of Machiavelli's significance as the founder of modern philosophy and of the modern world. It's my pick for best article of the year.
Jean Bethke Elshtain may have been the busiest woman many of us had ever met. Shuttling back and forth between her regular teaching appointment at the University of Chicago and her settled home in Tennessee, she wrote and wrote—and wrote and wrote. Essays, talks, books, memos to fellow directors on the almost endless number of boards on which she served. Letters, emailed comments about her friends’ latest work, notes on current theological and political issues: a ceaseless flow of words.
President Barack Obama, speaking today in Berlin, cited German philosopher Immanuel Kant:
"For thousands of years, the people of this land have journeyed from tribe to principality to nation state to reformation and enlightenment. Renowned as the land of poets and thinkers, among them Immanuel Kant, who taught us that freedom is the unoriginated birthright of man and it belongs to him by force of his humanity."