Skip to comments.Mark Steyn: Terminator or girlie man
Posted on 07/29/2004 7:55:47 AM PDT by Pokey78
Everyone wants to know what the key demographic will be in this election. In 1996, it was soccer moms; in 1994, angry white men. For Campaign 04, the columnist Michelle Malkin has been touting the concept of security moms gun-owning women whom 9/11 shook out of their Gen-X stupor.
Id say security moms or bellicose women, as Prof Glenn Reynolds, Americas Instapundit, dubbed them were certainly a factor and maybe a decisive one in Republican gains in the 2002 elections. But I wonder if there are quite so many of them two years on. And, in the absence of any alternative suggestions, it seems to me the key group in this election may be girlie men.
The term comes from a skit on NBCs Saturday Night Live back in the Eighties, when Hans and Franz, two Schwarzeneggeresque weightlifters, used it to mock those bodybuilders whose bodies were insufficiently built. But the real Arnold dusted it off the other day, making an appearance at a shopping mall in Ontario, California with the talk-radio maestro Hugh Hewitt (on whose rollicking show I have the honour to appear). Speaking of obstructionist Democrats at the state legislature in Sacramento, Governor Schwarzenegger said, If they dont have the guts to come up here in front of you and say, I dont want to represent you, I want to represent those special interests, the unions, the trial lawyers, and I want them to make the millions of dollars, if they dont have the guts, I call them girlie men. The crowd roared its approval, and Arnold added, to further cheers, If these guys wont do the job, Im going to announce each of you a terminator.
Up in Sacramento, they werent happy. The governors remark was as misogynist as it is anti-gay, complained Mark Leno, a San Francisco assemblyman and chairman of the legislatures Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Caucus. By playing to certain voters discomfort with gender and sexuality, the governor has exposed himself as a divider, not a uniter. Blatant homophobia, agreed state senator Sheila Kuehl, also of the LGBT Caucus. It uses an image that is associated with gay men in an insulting way, and it was supposed to be an insult. Thats very troubling that he would use such a homophobic way of trying to put down legislative leadership.
I dont pretend to know all the ins and outs of this phrase, but it seems safe to say that one sure sign you are a girlie man is that when youre called one, you whine humourlessly about it. By sheer coincidence, I happened to hear of the girlie-men ruckus just after reading a piece in the July issue of Foreign Policy, in which Parag Khanna of the Brookings Institution argues that Europe is the worlds first metrosexual superpower. A metrosexual, for those who dont read the style pages, is a heterosexual man who has a gayish sensibility in his dress, cologne, moisturiser, home decor and album collection; if men are from Mars, it doesnt mean they cant be in touch with their Venusian side. Last year, Howard Dean remember him? told residents of Boulder, Colorado that he was the first metrosexual candidate. I did a little column on the theme, and a day or two later asked my neighbour Scott, who was remodelling my bathroom, if he could put up some shelves by the sink for personal items. Oh, very metrosexual, he sneered, and called down to alert his colleague to my request, Hey, Tom. He needs a shelf for his bodily fluids. Anyway, thats broadly Mr Khannas thesis: unlike the insecure American cowboy, Europe is secure enough in its Martian hard power to know when to deploy a little sweet-smelling Venusian soft power.
This may well be the dumbest essay the usually sober Foreign Policy has ever published. I had trouble keeping my Howard Dean metrosexual riff going beyond the second paragraph, but old Khanna flogs his metaphor into the ground and then scrapes it off the floor for more:
The EU has become more effective and more attractive than the United States on the catwalk of diplomatic clout... Metrosexuals always know how to dress for the occasion (or mission). Spreading peace across Eurasia serves US interests, but its best done by donning Armani pinstripes rather than US army fatigues ...Even Turkey is freshening up with eau dEurope ...Stripping off stale national sovereignty (thats so last century), Europeans now parade their pooled power, the new look for this geopolitical season ...Brand Europe is taking over ...Europes flashy new symbol of power, the Airbus 380, will soon strut on runways all over Asia....
But dont be deceived by the metrosexual superpowers pleatless pants Europe hasnt lost touch with its hard assets ... Europes 60,000-troop Rapid Reaction Force will soon be ready to deploy around the world ...German and Spanish law enforcement efforts have led to the capture of numerous al-Qaeda operatives ...After 60 years of dressing up, Europe has revealed its true 21st-century orientation. Just as metrosexuals are redefining masculinity, Europe is redefining old notions of power and influence. Expect Bend It Like Brussels to play soon in capital cities worldwide.
This sounds like one of those pieces an editor runs when he wants to get fired and go to Tuscany to write a novel. The Airbus 380 is a classic Eurostatist money pit, German law enforcement has been a huge flop against al-Qaeda, and as for all the other fashionable projections of soft power, where are they? Europe wanted Kyoto: its dead. It wanted Saddam in office: hes in jail. Right now cowboy Bush is leaving Sudan to the metrosexuals and what have they got to show for their projection of soft power? Tens of thousands of corpses that no amount of cologne will hide the smell of.
Mr Khanna comes close to the truth when he notes that metrosexuals spend a long time standing in front of the mirror. In so far as this demographic exists at all, what defines metrosexuals isnt that theyre gay or straight but that theyre in love with themselves: its a cult of narcissism. And so is geopolitical metrosexuality. You look great, you feel great, but you do nothing. You go to endless multilateral meetings with other presidents and prime ministers and you trumpet the merits of soft power, but nothing happens. Its a way of advertising your own virtue, nothing more. At a certain level, fixing Sudan involves going in there and killing people, and if your main worry is how you look, youre not going to be up to that.
But in an odd way this distinction does encapsulate the choice in November. If we revert to Arnies terms, Bush is a terminator: he terminated Saddam and he terminated the Taleban, and if hes re-elected therell likely be a couple more before hes through. John F. Kerry, on the other hand, is a girlie man. I dont mean because his extraordinarily luxurious lifestyle is funded by the gazillions his missus inherited from her first husband, nor because of that limp-wristed ceremonial first pitch he threw out at the Red Sox-Yankees game in Boston on Sunday. No, I think Kerry is a girlie man because of his two-decade aversion to the projection of American military power, and his total lack of interest in formulating any alternative approach. On Monday night at the convention, Bill Clinton remarked that strength and wisdom are not opposing values i.e., Kerry can be just as macho as Bush, but his butchness will be informed by his tremendous Swiss-finishing-school braininess. But the reality is that Kerry shows few signs of either strength or wisdom. His foreign policy is passive and reactive, and notable for its finger-in-the-windiness. He says George Bush didnt do Iraq right, but he never says what hed have done differently. Those snotty intellectuals who say that Bush is uncurious ought to display a little more curiosity about Kerrys enervated approach to these issues.
The senator is a classic geopolitical metrosexual: what matters is how you look to the other metrosexuals. Had President Kerry been in office on 9/11, Ive no doubt there would have been far more UN resolutions, and joint declarations, and beaming faces announcing great progress at Nato summits, and G8, and EU and Apec. But Saddam would still be in power, and so would the Taleban, and no doubt in the latter case, under an agreement brokered by Kerry special envoy Jimmy Carter, Washington would be bankrolling the regime in return for pledges to phase out the terrorist training camps. The senator gives no indication that hes up to the challenges of the age.
But according to Andrew Sullivan, embracing Kerry in the Sunday Times, thats precisely the appeal of Senator Nuance: His basic message to Americans is: lets return to normalcy. The radicalism of the past four years needs tempering. We need to consolidate the nation-building in Iraq and Afghanistan, before any new adventures against, say, Iran....
You could make that argument in any war: we need to consolidate nation-building in the Solomon Islands before any new adventures on, say, the beaches of Normandy. But, honestly, the idea that you can take a four-year intermission from the jihad because everyones feeling a bit stressed out is delusional. Do Sullivan and the other moulting hawks believe Iran is going to be sporting enough to go along with it? Right-ho, old chap, well see you back here in 2008 for full-scale Armageddon. Enjoy the break.
A less crude version of this argument was made by the 9/11 commissioners in their final report. They noted that the enemy isnt like any other enemies, with bombers and battalions, but instead is a powerful, widely dispersed ideology. David Brooks, the house conservative at the New York Times, loved it: Weve had an investigation into our intelligence failures; we now need a commission to analyse our intellectual failures, he wrote. We also need to mount our own ideological counteroffensive. The commissioners, he notes approvingly, suggest we set up a fund to build secondary schools across Muslim states, and admit many more students into our own. He left out the library programmes. As the 9/11 report puts it, The United States should rebuild the scholarship, exchange, and library programmes that reach out to young people and offer them knowledge.
Im sure the commissioners and Brooks mean well, but this too is girlie-man stuff. Its fine to build a library or two after youve bombed a country and toppled the regime, but you know that in the end this approach would be heavier on the scholarship programmes, light on the daisy-cutters. Its a way of nominally continuing the war without being warlike.
I think its a lot of hooey. Most of our enemies are ideological Nazis, fascists, communists and, as a general rule of thumb, once you destroy the main promoters of those ideologies, their intellectual appeal diminishes considerably. And Brooks and the commissioners are, in fact, wrong. From Osama bin Laden to Mohammed Atta, from the great British shoebomber to the LSE graduate believed to have beheaded Daniel Pearl, to the Montrealer arrested en route to blow up Los Angeles airport, the most murderous Islamists seem to be those whove enjoyed the alleged blessings of a Westernised education. Indeed, the ideology is not purely Islamic but a potent fusion of Islam and totalitarian techniques imported from the West. Its unclear whether a library programme would help.
And whether you go for Sullivans four-year intermission or Brookss decades-long high-school construction project, the point is this: time is on the enemys side, not ours. With every month, nuclear knowhow gets dissipated a little further into the murkier corners of the world. With every year, the demographic changes in Europe render Americas old alliances more and more obsolescent. Even if Kerrys in the White House, French troops arent going to be fighting shoulder to shoulder with the Yanks in any major Muslim country: Kerry wouldnt either, if he had Chiracs Muslim population.
Sloth favours the Islamists. Readers may recall that I wanted Bush to invade Iraq before the first anniversary of 9/11. If he had done, hed have saved himself a whole lot of trouble, and we might even be rid of the mullahs or Boy Assad by now. The President has to be a terminator: he has to terminate regimes and structures that support Islamist terrorism. And, if every bigshot associated with the cause winds up like Uday and Qusay, the ideology will become a lot less fashionable. All these girlie-man options sound so reasonable, but theyre a fools evasion, an excuse to put off indefinitely the fights that have to be fought in Iran, North Korea and elsewhere.
Girlie men are men without chests in the C.S. Lewis sense, rather than the Schwarzenegger one. I didnt come up with this choice, nor did Arnold. The enemy did. As I wrote back in 2001, the Islamists have made a bet that were too soft and decadent to see this through to the finish. This November, one way or another, theyll get their answer.
Man, that's harsh--and funny.
Yes, they think we're too soft and decadent to defend our way of life and 3,000 dead Americans are just a momentary diversion from the pursuit of a life of ease and comfort. I mean we can't even agree on the values that bind us as a country. If we can't defeat the enemy at home, there's scant chance we'll defeat the enemy menacing us from abroad.
The master! Not only written with great style, but absolutely spot on why the war must continue.
The metrosexuals will abandon the field to the jihadists. Now THAT's harsh and funny.
Voters need to think about this.
An accurate description of both "Johns" and Europeans in general.
If TEAM Bush doesn't find a way to win 50% of the female vote, we'll go down just like we did twice with the toon.
Every word above is a hammer on the anvil of truth.
Metrosexual, yes. Superpower, not quite.
A lot of riddled female bodies may make the difference. We suffered only one 9/11 so a lot of Americans are under the illusion it was a freak, a one time thing. Perhaps four years under John F*ckin' will wake voters up from their complacency. We shall see.
Superb. Clever and deeply insightful. Our damned celebrity culture that promotes this garbage is going to destroy us.
Damn is that spot on.
BAWHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! Good Godamighty, I could write half-a-dozen humor columns around this one screamer. Sure it will be, as long as the Brits are willing to carry the EU's water for it. I'm not entirely certain they'll be willing to put up with doing the dying while the lordly M. Chirac tells them what they're doing wrong.
What is frightening is that for the most part Osama bin Laden's strategic assessment of Europe's willingness to respond was, point by point, absolutely correct. The EU should be careful what it asks for - the only thing scarier than the world with the United States running amok is the world without it.
A good one from start to finish.
Had President Kerry been in office on 9/11, Ive no doubt there would have been far more UN resolutions, and joint declarations, and beaming faces announcing great progress at Nato summits, and G8, and EU and Apec. But Saddam would still be in power, and so would the Taleban, and no doubt in the latter case, under an agreement brokered by Kerry special envoy Jimmy Carter, Washington would be bankrolling the regime in return for pledges to phase out the terrorist training camps. The senator gives no indication that hes up to the challenges of the age.
And doesn't that bankroll statement describe exactly how the Clinton administration handled North Korea? We hear a small whine now and then about "why didn't GWB invade NK instead?" but it is a small whine since the answer is "Clinton let them build the bomb."
Kerry must not be allowed near the White House.
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