Right wing obsession with masculinity

You have to wonder if the right wing’s obsession with icons of masculinity is compensating for something we don’t know about.

Anne Coulter, who at least pretends to be a woman, holds up Pat Tillman as the epitome of American masculinity (at least until she found out he was a fan of Chomsky) while deriding John Edwards and Al Gore as being gay. She is either very brave or very tragic, depending on your point of view, had this androgynous and anemic harpy ever been seen in public with male company.

Jonah Golberg, could hardly contain his admiration for Dick Cheney, confusing Cheney’s general contempt for humanity, with masculine resolve.

In just two minutes of chatty, giggly Cheney worship, the following tough-guy cliches flew from their mouths:

* Cheney “doesn’t bother talking the talk, he just walks the walk”;

* he’s “a politician who doesn’t look at the polls. . . another Harry Truman”;

* “love to have a beer with the guy”;

* “a smart, serious man in American life”;

* “Have you ever seen Dick Cheney give a speech? I mean, the contempt for the audience is palpable” — “I know, I — see, I love that. He looks like he should be eating a sandwich while he’s doing it, eating lunch over the sink . . I love that”;

* “I can just see him yelling, hey you kids, get off my lawn. I love it.”

As always, the pulsating need among the strain of individual represented by Tucker Carlson and Johan Goldberg to search endlessly for strong, powerful, masculine figures so that they can feel those attributes and pose as one who exudes them (Jonah Goldberg: “love to have a beer with the guy”) is its own stomach-turning though vitally important topic. The same is true of the fact that the movement of which they are a part virtually always venerates as Icons of Courageous Sandwich-Eating Masculinity precisely those figures who so transparently play-act at the role but whose lives never exhibit any such attributes in reality. That, too, is its own rich and abundant topic.

Once again the irony is unavoidable. The man that Golberg idolizes for his “strength” has a history that reads like the antithesis of masculinity. Cheney not only skipped the Vietnam draft through five draft deferments, but these days has taken paranoia to macabre extremes, and spends most of his time hiding away in some bunker.

As the interview continued, Golberg gave us an all too familiar insight into mentality that has infected the far right.

GOLDBERG: And you know, but I do think that what Cheney has learned after a lifetime in Washington as a power player, is that the person who holds the secrets has power. And he is using that for what I would say, or probably what he believes to be certainly good ends. A lot of people disagree on that, but he’s trying to do best as he can and he sees holding onto power as a tool to do that.

That, of course, is the defining mentality of the Authoritarian Mind, captured in its purest essence by Jonah. Our Leaders are Good and want to protect us. Therefore, we must accept — and even be grateful — when they prevent us from knowing what they are doing. The less we know, the more powerful our Leaders are. And that is something we accept and celebrate, for our Leaders are Good and we trust that the more powerful they are, the better we all shall be.

John Dean wrote a book about this very phenomenon. His interview with Keith Olbermann last year is quite an eye opener.

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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