Presidential Manliness, part 2

4 October 2008

Needless to say, Americans have usually felt most comfortable with a male figurehead in politics. The president especially seems to need to strike the pose of the national pater familias – and never is this more true than with his capacity as commander-in-chief.

I point out the 1988 presidential election, in which Michael Dukakis (D) faced off against George Bush (R). Each were competing to follow the legacy of Ronald Reagan, who, for all of his controversial policies, had established himself as a masculine icon. Reagan had opposed communism unflinchingly, and had expanded the American military considerably. Bush, while not the same imposing figure, had the advantage of association with the Hollywood (Holly-war?) president.

Bush was pressing for further military development, especially with regard to new space technologies. Dukakis urged for cutbacks in these areas, a stance which risked making him look effete in comparison with his opponent. The Democratic candidate attempted to shore up this loss of masculine image by staging some photos in an M1 Abrams tank at a Michigan military productions plant. UK prime minister Margaret Thatcher had utilized similar pictures not long before that, and had seen a boost in her popularity. For Dukakis, however, it backfired. Even though he had spent time in the army, the Bush campaign used the tank footage as ammo against Dukakis, portraying him as an insecure poseur.

There are rules to masculine posturing in America, be it in the schoolyard or on the presidential platform. Stand tall – but never try too hard.



  1. Reagan’s policies were not controversial, they were conservative. The premise of controversy was manufactured by the media wing of the Democrat party, which universally despised him. His wise mantra of “Peace Through Strength” was at odds with their vision of a 60’s-style socialist utopia where everyone lives off the government teat, sings Kumbaya and flatulates rainbows!

    Everyone knew Dukakis’ “come to Jesus” moment at the tank was a fraud after Oct. 13, 1988. That was the night a presidential debate with Bush soon-to-be-41 took place. Moderator Bernard Shaw asked him, “Governor, if Kitty[his wife] were raped and murdered, would you favor an irrevocable death penalty for the killer?” While I agree the question may have been somewhat unfair, it didn’t make the governor’s response any less disappointing. A more red-blooded male would have said something along the lines of “I wouldn’t need no stinking death penalty…I’d kill the sob slowly and painfully myself!” But we’re talking about someone of bluer blood here(socially as well as politically).

    His actual response? “No, I don’t, and I think you know that I’ve opposed the death penalty during all of my life.” Answering the question without really answering it…a staple of politicians in general, and of Democrat politicians in particular.

    The manliness of Reagan was pilloried precisely because his opponents knew there was nothing postured about it, that it was a mark of his consistent character and ultimate brilliance as a leader. The Gipper was guided by one simple rule of manly leadership: Having muscle you don’t use gets you more respect than using muscle you don’t have.

  2. Reagan was an empty psycho-path. A hollywood created cartoon character.

    The empty vessel portrayed in the film BEING THERE starring Peter Sellers.

    And because of his emptiness he inevitably created the “culture” described in this reference.


    And what he thus created was only a minor prelude to the full scale assault on the USA AND world body politic dramatised by Bush under the influence of the neo-psychopaths.

    • I think it is time for someone to take their Prozac….

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