Where would international relations be without the wisdom of Kathleen Parker? I feel very grateful that she took the time yesterday to share her insights into just why President Obama’s diplomacy is viewed as being unmanly. I wasn’t aware this was a pressing issue, but thankfully Ms. Parker enlightened me.
Parker notes that, “Unfortunately, most of world history seems to have pivoted on the balance or imbalance of hormones, with testosterone presenting the greatest challenge. (I note this as a fan.)” A fan of what? Testosterone? She goes on to say:
In what may prove to be an epochal development, Obama seems to have his [hormones] under control. He doesn’t strut, swagger or flex. He doesn’t even notice the hydrant.
Holy shit, a leader who is not ruled by his testosterone! Could it be that Obama is the first ever world leader to think things through and not be a slave to his impetuous hormones? Amazing! Apparently this is supposed to be a bad thing. We’re supposed to want a leader who is overwhelmed by machismo, thinks with the wrong head, and is at the mercy of his testosterone. It would also be a bonus if he peed on hydrants, and by “hydrants” we mean “Nicolas Sarkozy.”
If George W. Bush was a cowboy, Obama is a group hug.
I’ll take a hug over “cowboy diplomacy” anyday, but that’s not really the point. Parker is trying to say that Obama lacks testosterone, ergo he is emasculated, ergo he is ineffective. Only macho men are fit to rule. The same hormones that she seems to view as being so beneficial to a man’s governing capabilities would be a liability if they were female hormones. You know, the old rube of “a woman President would push the red button when it’s that time of the month!” If Obama is not macho enough, does that mean that any woman leader will be similarly “un-tough” and therefore unable to bring about diplomatic success?
He says we should show leadership by listening. That we should work in partnership with others. That we should show humility. This is, of course, pure porn for women.
Huh? Really, what is that about? It’s nice of Parker to assume that only women would embrace listening to others (what a radical tactic!) because men are too busy bashing one another over the head with clubs. Women are the ones who use our emotions and feelings and empathy and we know how to listen. Apparently nothing sets off a political orgasm among women quite like a male politician who listens to others! Maybe Americans of both genders embrace this because it’s a lot more reasonable than McCain’s “Bomb Iran” song that was sufficiently macho and sufficiently idiotic.
Parker equivocates at the very end, closing on an almost laudatory note:
To answer the original question: When you’re the big dog, you can afford to smile. The saber is understood.
Except she still seems to think that diplomacy is a dick-measuring contest and doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with that — which makes sense, given that she’s a fan of testosterone. This whole issue of “is Obama manly enough?” makes me think of the failed attempt to smear him with the ridiculous “elitist” label last year. “Elite” should not be a pejorative term; it means the best of the best, something that you would think is a positive quality in a leader. In a similar linguistic misappropriation, “diplomacy” does not mean a pissing contest or a violent rugby scrum. To be diplomatic in the pure sense of the word is to use intelligence, tactical discussions, finesse, subtlety, and courtesy. Machismo does not seem to have a foothold in that definition. Maybe someone should tell Parker that sometimes it’s best to let the testosterone cool and wiser heads will usually prevail, and also to just stop talking about diplomacy in explicitly male-centric gendered terms. Remember the big strong cowboy of a man who was going to get Osama bin Laden “dead or alive”? That was a real success, huh? I’ll take a smile and a perceived group hug any day.