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Hullabaloo


Thursday, April 10, 2008

 
Making Sissies

by digby

Dick Morris is one of those wingnut gasbags who doesn't sugercoat the propaganda and just tells the world outright what the Republican conventional wisdom is at any given moment. This column discussing the recent USA Today/Gallup Poll (via Media Matters) is a perfect example:

So Obama won the traditional Democratic (and female) virtues of understanding problems and caring about people. McCain won the usual Republican (and male) virtues of strong leadership and efficient management.

In an age of terrorism, weakness is a capital crime. McCain needs to base his campaign on establishing Obama’s weakness and his own strong leadership by comparison.

It is in this context that we must analyze Obama’s problems with the Rev. Wright and his emerging problems with former terrorist Bill Ayers. The American people are not about to judge Obama guilty by association, even with a lowlife type like Ayers and an anti-American like Wright. But they will see, in Obama’s tentativeness in handling these controversies and his “decency” in refusing to cut off his relationships and condemn these men, a sign of weakness that will hurt his campaign.

There is in Obama something of the Democratic candidate for president in the 1950s, Adlai Stevenson. Both from Illinois, they share an eloquence that lifts them above normal political figures and a profundity of thought that lies behind it. But each was seen as weak, and Stevenson as indecisive. Obama’s over-intellectualization of issues and of the problems that crop up in his campaign will increasingly harden into a perception of a lack of sufficient strength to deal with America’s problems.

The right wing tried to attack John Kerry in 2004 for a lack of patriotism and commitment to American values, just as it is now doing to Obama. It likely fell short of its goal. But the pressure it brought to bear on Kerry, through the Swift Boat ad and other attacks, led people to conclude that Kerry flip-flopped on issues and led them to discount what he said during his campaign.

Similarly, Americans will not buy that Obama is un-American. But the pressure the right brings to bear on him will cause him to appear weak in the face of attacks.

McCain needs to hammer away at the issue of strength and leadership and deal decisively with the problems that crop up in the campaign, while Obama dithers, thinks things through and tries to parse hairs in his responses.

Here the Iraq issue opens a real opportunity for McCain, where otherwise his support for the war would be a real negative. Iraq is a lot like Social Security. Everyone knows there is a problem, but any solution is immediately shot down. The issue earned the label “the third rail” in our politics, a status that was underscored when Bush’s momentum from his 2004 reelection was smashed against the rocks of Democratic and elderly opposition to his Social Security reform plan.

So it is with Iraq: He who proposes an alternative is doomed. McCain’s position, that we have to stay until we win, is far from popular, but it’s a lot better than unilateral and immediate withdrawal.

And Obama’s opposition to the war begs a host of questions: Shall we retain any presence? What about al Qaeda? What happens if the government falls? Can we let Iran take over? Obama will dither and seem far from decisive as he answers each of these questions. They will make him look terrible, just as Kerry — in opposing the war after voting for it — looked like a flip-flopper.

McCain can use the predisposition of voters to see Obama as weak, coupled with the Iraq issue, to make the strength issue his key advantage.


We've all been saying this for years and there it is all wrapped up in a pretty bow. The question is whether or not people believe that "strength" is really defined in such simple terms after observing the idiot Bush up close for eight years. It's theoretically possible that they will see McCain as a "strong adult" while Junior was an overgrown teen-ager, but I don't know if they trust their instincts on any of this as much as they used to. They thought Bush's swagger and stubbornness were traits of masculinity and strength after all, and they were proven to be adolescent preening.

Then there are the other big issues of age and race, which also play into masculine stereotypes. This one isn't quite an uncomplicated as Morris thinks, although I'm quite sure he's right about Republican intentions. They are very good at tapping into the masculine leadership archetypes and base all their campaigns on them. The fact that they were able to turn a draft dodging party boy into a hero and a hero into a flip-flopping sissy is testament to how good they are at it.

In my opinion, the GOP's hyper-macho, strutting, codpiece wearing flyboy ran the country firmly into the ditch in virtually every way possible has likely made people yearn for a thoughtful, intelligent president who understands their problems. I'd bet at least 51% do anyway.


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