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Too Much Manliness in the White House

Ruth Marcus has an article in the Washington Post today in which she criticizes President Bush for being too manly. Yes, too manly. She writes her article as a response to Harvey Mansfield's belief that manliness is underemployed in today's world. Ms. Marcus disagrees.

This is how she sees things:

I have a new theory about what's behind everything that's wrong with the Bush administration: manliness...


...Think about it this way: Is a trait exemplified by reluctance to ask directions -- "for it is out of manliness that men do not like to ask for directions when lost," Mansfield writes -- really what you want in a government deciding whether to take a country to war?

The undisputed manliness of the Bush White House stands in contrast to its predecessors and wannabes. If Republicans are the Daddy Party and Democrats the Mommy Party, the Clinton White House often operated like Mansfield's vision of an estrogen-fueled kaffeeklatsch: indecisive and undisciplined. (Okay, there were some unfortunate, testosterone-filled moments, too.) Bill Clinton's would-be successor, Al Gore, was mocked for enlisting Naomi Wolf to help him emerge as an alpha male; after that, French-speaking John Kerry had to give up windsurfing and don hunting gear to prove he was a real man. And Bush's father, of course, had to battle the Wimp Factor. Mansfield recalls Thatcher's manly admonition to 41 on the eve of the Persian Gulf War: "Don't go wobbly on me, George."

No wimpiness worries now. This is an administration headed by a cowboy boot-wearing brush-clearer, backstopped by a quail-shooting fly fisherman comfortable with long stretches of manly silence -- very "Brokeback Mountain," except this crowd considers itself too manly for such PC Hollywood fare. "I would be glad to talk about ranchin', but I haven't seen the movie," Bush told a questioner.

There are, no doubt, comforting aspects to the manly presidency; think Bush with a bullhorn on top of the smoldering ruins of the twin towers. After a terrorist attack, no one's looking for a sensitive New Age president. Even now, being a strong leader polls at the top of qualities that voters most admire in Bush.

But the manliness of the Bush White House has a darker side that has proved more curse than advantage. The prime example is the war in Iraq: the administration's assertion of the right to engage in preemptive and unilateral war; the resolute avoidance of debate about the "slam-dunk" intelligence on weapons of mass destruction; the determined lack of introspection or self-doubt about the course of the war; and the swaggering dismissal of dissenting views as the carping of those not on the team.

I love how she ends her piece:

What this country could use is a little less manliness -- and a little more of what you would describe as womanly qualities: restraint, introspection, a desire for consensus, maybe even a touch of self-doubt.

These characteristics would surely instill fear into the al Qaeda terrorists who want to kill us.

I guess she prefers the metrosexuality of John Kerry and John Edwards: perfectly coiffed, neatly pressed, and ready for a very stressful day on the slopes.


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Comments (18)

I don't think the problem i... (Below threshold)
jp2:

I don't think the problem is "manliness" - it's the attempt to be manly when you aren't.

Real:
http://www.cassiopaea.org/images/george_bush_cheerleader.gif

That's not even metro, Kim.

Btw, any news yet on that CMPC document? (It got debunked)

Ya got a problem with cheer... (Below threshold)
toby928:

Ya got a problem with cheerleaders huh? You try hosting some of those wide-beamers over your head!

A picture of a 60 year old ... (Below threshold)
Mikey:

A picture of a 60 year old man taken back in his high school years - when he attended an all boys school.

Yeah, that's relevant.

Sheesh..Wha... (Below threshold)
lowmal:


Sheesh..

What a hopelessly ignorant commentary.. To rebut would come off as being, well, too sensitive..

Dennis Miller: "I like Bus... (Below threshold)
JD:

Dennis Miller: "I like Bush because he doesn't overthink this. Bush gets up every morning, hops out of bed, his two feet hit the floor, he scratches his balls and says, 'Let's kill some fucking terrorists.'"

John Kerry: "I believe I can fight a more effective, more thoughtful, more strategic, more proactive, more sensitive war on terror that reaches out to other nations and brings them to our side and lives up to American values in history."

We report, you deride...

Its the media with the prob... (Below threshold)
virgo:

Its the media with the problem! and its Womanliness they represent, truthfulness they ignore and incompetence they exzemplify..

Article: pure pap. But sinc... (Below threshold)
bryanD:

Article: pure pap. But since you mentioned metrosexual: Narcissism, thy name is W. Pumping iron is fine, but showing off ain't! Doing the slo-mo tiger stalk with those freshly-pumped arms at 15 degrees-out from your side like Marshall Dillon at a Disco: what a maroon! play it DOWN, not UP! Your the PREZ, man! And "tough" and "preppie"? Move on! Besides, You're up against T.R., U.S.Grant, John Tyler, Lincoln (giggling, he'd tie W in a knot and make him recite Battle Hymn of the Republic) and Jackson(? don't even GO there!) in the toughguy sweepstakes. In conclusion: Save it for Laura!

bryanD mentioned TR, who wa... (Below threshold)
docjim505:

bryanD mentioned TR, who was probably the most overtly and joyously "manly" president we've ever had. Can you imagine what Ruth Marcus and her crowd would make of HIM??? Undergoing surgery without anesthetic; playing single-stick with Army Chief of Staff Gen. Leonard Wood with ash sticks; routine big game hunts; his daughter Alice carried a revolver and fired it off at random moments; "We want Perdicaris alive or Raisuli dead!"; frequent visits to Navy ships; playing hide and seek with his children in the White House... even when official visitors were present; etc, etc, etc.

"...restraint, introspectio... (Below threshold)
smitty:

"...restraint, introspection, a desire for consensus, maybe even a touch of self-doubt."

The very qualities that helped us succeed on June 6, 1944. Those "womenly qualities" were noticably absent in the Presidents considered "great"; I don't think Washington, Jackson, T.R. or F.D.R. made decisions by participating in focus groups.

Hmmm.Liberal pap.<... (Below threshold)
ed:

Hmmm.

Liberal pap.

Bush is a guy with a stetson and boots who likes to do manual labor on his ranch.

Cheney is an avid outdoorsman.

And her problem, and evidently both jp2's and bryanD's problem as well, is that Bush and Cheney are too manly?

Well, well, well. Evidently the swinging penis does rule the world.

I think there is a grain of... (Below threshold)
Nahanni:

I think there is a grain of truth to this, and it goes far to explain the lunacy of the left.

The vast majority of the BDM afflicted LLL's are people who have never grown up psychologically. And children naturally cling to their mommies.

It has nothing to do with m... (Below threshold)
mesablue:

It has nothing to do with manliness.

It's just a president who actually acts like a president.

About time.

Ruth Marcus is a fool, but ... (Below threshold)

Ruth Marcus is a fool, but looking at the geopolitical landscape out there, I'm inclined to say Professor Mansfield's definition of manliness is expansive enough to include all creatures great and small, female and male, from bauer birds and peacocks to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf -- the new President of Liberia who sat proudly with the Leader of the Free World in the Oval Office yesterday afternoon -- to the Muslim woman word warriors like Irshad Manji and Ayaan Hirsi Ali who are just saying no to those who would put them in their place.

In spring a young man's fancy

Yeah, because self-doubt is... (Below threshold)

Yeah, because self-doubt is such an endearing quality in a human.

God, what a moron.

Marcus' mental malaise is n... (Below threshold)
J. C. Brito:

Marcus' mental malaise is nothing other than a reflection too many years in Washington, which puts her at a disadvantage. Tsk, tsk.

What she needs is the good fresh air of the Crawford ranch ..... escorted around by some real MEN, of course.

i'll bet ruth probably has ... (Below threshold)
jab:

i'll bet ruth probably has never have met or been with a real man before. she's suffering from penis envy syndrome also.

"Bush is a guy with a stets... (Below threshold)
jp2:

"Bush is a guy with a stetson and boots who likes to do manual labor on his ranch."

At the ranch he bought just before the election to fool people like you? Yes.

He's an actor, like most politicians. He is a blue-blood son of a Senator and oil-tycoons. The very definition of a fortunate son. Born in Conneticut, educated at Ivy League schools. But hey, he let cameras film him clearing brush. I think I'll dedicate my life to his work!

restraint, introspection... (Below threshold)
Sheik Yur Bouty:

restraint, introspection, a desire for consensus, maybe even a touch of self-doubt.

These are certainly some qualities I would love to see in jp2 and BryanD, among others.




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