January 30, 2004

Macho politics

Every morning since Iowa, I've asked myself, "where did John Kerry come from?" Needless to say, I haven't been able to answer myself. John Kerry? Perhaps it's because I'm not from Massachusetts, but I don't remember any enthusiasm among Democrats for this perma-senator (a la Bob Dole) before the Iowa caucuses.

One explanation that's as plausible as any other I've heard is that Democrats are looking for the macho man. Just as the Democratic Leadership Council argues that Democrats can't win the White House unless they nominate a Republican, this guy argues that many Democrats also believe they can't win unless they nominate the most manly guy. I suggest that if he's right, it's largely for the same reasons the DLC has looked to right-winginess as the criteria for Democratic electability: the Republicans have won with manliness, so we need manliness, too.

This is ridiculous. It's either ridiculously false, or else it's ridiculous because it's true.

Call it a response to 9-11, a reaction to feminism, or show business taking over the world. But the kitsch of masculinity—the studwear, the Clint Eastwood stare, the programmed finger-stabbing dare—has enormous credibility now. We are trusting our very lives to the man who makes the best action figure. That's a lot scarier than Howard Dean at his screamiest.


Posted by Carey at January 30, 2004 09:46 AM

Well, let's see...

What have the Republicans identified themselves with (true or not)? Strength, responsibility, national security, freedom etc.

And the Democrats? Peace, social programs, governmental control, etc.

Without actually thinking about issues, personality, or record, which many voters don't, which sounds better post 9-11?

Now, ask again why the Dems want Frankenstein's Monster as their nominee?

Remember, the nomination process isn't about who would make the best president. It's about who can beat Bush. Were our current president a responsible, thoughtful, sane person, I'd argue this point, but he isn't and thus we need to remove him, regardless of who takes his place (do you really think Kerry would be even remotely as bad a pres. as Bush has been?).

Posted by: Brian at January 30, 2004 03:29 PM

Although the objective might be to prevent a second Bush term, it does not therefore follow that Kerry (or any 'masculine' candidate) is the best option. Just because a certain campaign style has been successful for the Republicans does not mean that it will be successful for the Democrats. Part of the success of the Republican strategy has derived from the ability of the current strategy to energize the Republican base.

Posted by: Joseph at January 30, 2004 07:54 PM