Wednesday, April 8, 2009

No Mas Macho

Kathleen Parker, in one of her more unguardedly loopy columns, chastises Barack Obama for not being a tough guy.

If George W. Bush was a cowboy, Obama is a group hug.

He says we should show leadership by listening. That we should work in partnership with others. That we should show humility. This is, of course, pure porn for women. But unfortunately, women don’t rule the world. Men still do. And we have to worry whether Obama will be viewed as weak and the U.S., therefore, vulnerable.

And because the world is thus, we are also necessarily concerned whether Obama will respond aggressively enough when appropriate. This is because Americans still don’t really know Obama yet. At each turn since taking office, he reveals new aspects of himself.

We now know that he is without qualm when he finds it necessary to fire corporate chiefs. But will he be as bold when rogue nations strap on their Speedos and display their missilery, as North Korea just did?

To quote the immortal C.J. Cregg from The West Wing: “Wow, are you stupid.”

Ms. Parker’s sexism must be pathological; her comment about how appealing Obama must be to women because he’s not a swaggering bully is just staggering, not to mention pathetic. And I don’t even want to speculate why she went with a Speedo metaphor for North Korea’s missile program.

To the larger point, as if the last eight years didn’t already prove it, macho bullshit gets people killed. If it isn’t by recklessly invading other countries to prove your toughness — unless, however, you’re picking on a country that had nothing to do with a previous attack but presented a tempting target — it invites other people to attack you and kill innocent people in the process. Even if they don’t respond with violence, it is not the way to win friends and influence people. No one should doubt America’s resolve to defend ourselves from attack, but it’s a lot harder to get people to take you seriously — and a lot less likely to come to your defense — when you act like a jerk.

Ms. Parker’s assumption that the only way to get the rest of the world to respect us is to bully and intimidate everyone else with patently phony toughness is demonstrably false. What I think really gets under her skin is the fact that Barack Obama is wildly more popular among the people we have to share this planet with than her stuffed-sock-in-the-codpiece hero.

I know there are some people to whom machismo is a turn-on, but if they have any sense, they’ll save it for their personal ads and keep it out of the foreign policy of the United States.