War cheerleaders ask: "Is Obama man enough to be president?"

As always, Democratic candidates are accused of lacking manliness because they're not eager enough to send others off to war.


Glenn Greenwald
March 10, 2008 8:26PM (UTC)

The overarching rule in our political discourse is that Democratic presidential candidates are not man enough to be President. Today, the single most masculinity-obsessed and gender-insecure commentator in America, Glenn Reynolds (followed closely by his wife), quotes an article from the supremely tough warrior John Podhoretz's magazine, Commentary, as follows:

So we may have reached the perfect gender dilemma: is Obama "man enough" to be President?

A couple of weeks ago, Reynolds pondered: "OBAMA: Feminized?," and then linked to an article on Pajamas Media by his wife claiming that Obama is a symbol of "The New Feminized Majority." A few days earlier, Reynolds fretted that the Democrats' "plan" is to "Change America with Women's Values." Sounds really emasculating and scary.

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The Commentary post promoted by Reynolds today makes clear how manliness is measured:

Now it is Obama's turn to prove he can stand up to Clinton and McCain, to say nothing of real bad guys like Fidel Castro and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. In this regard, his excessive deference to personal engagement . . . as a tool of foreign policy and his cool, aloof demeanor work against him. Can he take a punch or throw one?

It is always boiled down to this. The American President is, first and foremost, the "Commander-in-Chief" (a position that the Constitution provides only exists when Congress funds an army, which, now, happens to be always, since we're permanently at War). Only real men, tough guys, can be that. Being a real man -- demonstrating toughness -- requires only one thing: a willingness, actually an eagerness, to start wars and send other people off to fight in them.

The more eager one is to do that, the more of a man one is, the more fit one is to be Commander-in-Chief. The less eager one is to do that, the more one's masculinity is in doubt. Leaders on the Right are real men because they're not squeamish about sending others off to war.

George W. Bush proved what a swaggering, courageous man he was when he sent people off to fight in Iraq and then pranced around in a costume on that ship. His father, as President, was dogged by a reputation for "wimpiness" (despite actual combat service), which he was able to dispel only through the supremely manly act of sending soldiers to invade the powerful country of Panama. From a 1989 front-page article in The New York Times written by R.W. Apple, on the very day when the first President Bush ordered the ludicrous (though deadly) Panamanian invasion ("Operation Just Cause"):

For George Bush, the United States invasion of Panama early this morning constituted a Presidential initiation rite as well as an attempt to achieve specific goals. . . . For better or for worse, most American leaders since World War II have felt a need to demonstrate their willingness to shed blood to protect or advance what they construe as the national interest. . . . - all of them acted in the belief that the American political culture required them to show the world promptly that they carried big sticks.

Barack Obama doesn't appear to be all that eager to start a lot of wars and send people off to die. Therefore, unlike George Bush and Dick Cheney -- whose hard-core manliness has never been in doubt despite lives completely devoid of any acts reflecting traditional masculine virtues -- it seems that Obama (just like Kerry and Gore before him) probably isn't man enough. He's basically just a girl -- weak and scared and afraid of fighting -- and therefore not really fit to be Commander-in-Chief. So sayeth the people, like Glenn Reynolds and his war-cheerleading comrades, followed by like-minded media allies, who -- quite revealingly -- are the absolute last ones fit to arbitrate such matters.


Glenn Greenwald

Follow Glenn Greenwald on Twitter: @ggreenwald.

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