JEEZ Louise, is there a truck somewhere missing its turnip? Do they let Camille Paglia drink right from the spigot at the Salon water cooler?
Throughout history, American presidents have been men's men who puff their out chests against evil. Think Teddy Roosevelt on safari, Jack Kennedy in PT-109, Ronald Reagan on his horse, or George W. Bush with a chain saw clearing brush. If leaders show any slackening of testosterone, especially in wartime, they are quickly derided as wimps (George H.W. Bush), a Frenchmen (John Kerry) or weaklings (Jimmy Carter). But on the Democratic campaign trail these days, where the first woman in U.S. history is making a serious run at the White House, gender roles are being swapped.
Throughout history, people who've begun sentences with "Throughout history..." have mostly sought to convey something about history in the following lines. Something, I dunno, verifiable. Accurate. More-or-less reality-based. At the very least they did the audience the courtesy of trying to lie convincingly.
Even assuming that Scherer knows no more of history than to spout off about "wimpy" George H. W. Bush or Jimmy Carter, you'd think the bit about George "Sis, Boom, Bah!" Walker Bush, brush-clearin' he-man, would have, at this late date, at least have given him pause, fer chrissakes.
As I recall it, we've had a goodly number of lawyers in the White House, a gentleman planter or two, a couple of backwoods ruffians, a haberdasher, a fuller, and at least one closet queen, in addition to a number of military men. The common thread seems to be a successful political career, sometimes replaced by dumb luck, rather than acute chest-puffery. But if we have to make the point, of our post-war Presidents, both Eisenhower and Ford were college football stars. So Scherer, naturally, chooses the guy who rode horsies in the movies.
Clara Oleson, an Iowa Democrat and former labor lawyer, explained all these distinctions on a riverbank in Iowa City last week, while waiting to hear Clinton speak to a crowd of about 1,000. "Obama is the female candidate. Obama is the woman," she said, after admitting that she was one of his supporters. "He is the warm candidate, self-deprecating, soft, tender, sad eyes, great smile."
So what does that make Hillary Clinton? "She is the male candidate -- in your face, authoritative, know-it-all." To be clear, Oleson was not doubting the symbolic power that Clinton retains as a woman. But she was calling it as she saw it, using the language of Iowa City, a university town. "It's what the academes would call the difference between sex and gender," Oleson explained.
And it's what others of us would call "sorry-assed gender stereotyping in the guise of progressive politics." Women can be tough. Men can be gentle. And we can select a candidate based on the issues, instead of turning everything in life into a bad reality show.
But then whatever would we write about?