THEODORE ROOSEVELT AND THE LOST MASCULINITY OF THE AMERICAN ELITE
Arch-Cliopatriarch Ralph Luker drew attention to the tartly -written essay
by Harvey Manstein in the New Criterion " The Manliness of Theodore Roosevelt" ,
where Mansfield, notable for his own political incorrectness, reflects on T.R.'s now unfashionable philosophy of living a manly and " strenuous life":"TR appeals to some conservatives today for his espousal of big government and national greatness, and all conservatives rather relish his political incorrectness. As a reforming progressive he used to appeal to liberals, but nowadays liberals are put off by the political incorrectness that conservatives rather sneakily enjoy. Conservatives keep their admiration under wraps because they fear the reaction of women should they celebrate his manliness. Liberals have delivered themselves, in some cases with discernible reluctance (I am thinking of President Clinton), to the feminists. Yet they too are concealing an embarrassment. Nothing was more obvious than Roosevelt’s manliness because he made such a point of it not only in his own case but also as necessary for human progress. It was being a progressive that made him so eager to be manly. Here is gristle to chew for liberals and conservatives, both of whom—except for the feminists—have abandoned manliness mostly out of policy rather than abhorrence. With the Library of America’s publication of his Letters and Speeches and The Rough Riders, An Autobiography, let’s see how Roosevelt’s manliness was at the center of his politics. "
Masculinity as a value has been rejected by our modern political elite, something crudely but effectively highlighted some time ago by Kim DuToit
. Culturally, the cult of things male remains very much alive in the great swath of the public that keep mostly below the media radar because they favor NASCAR events, rodeos, gun shows, unapologetic magazines like MAXIM
and appear only to create electoral upsets for oddball candidates for office like Jesse Ventura and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Personally, I don't think the beltway political elite communicates all that effectively with this mostly apolitical demographic. The Left holds them in disdain as neanderthals, proto-fascist boobs, religious fanatics and homophobic racists of Red State country. The Right sends forth wine-sipping, Ivy League graduate, intellectuals on Sunday talk shows to awkwardly pose as rhetorical" tough guys " but few genuine tough guys seem to climb their ranks. Or last very long if they get there
This social discomfort with unabashed masculine values exhibited by our elite or a cognitively dissonant relationship to them, in the case of cynical attempts to win over " Nascar Dads" as a voting bloc, is a commentary on the undigested social revolution of the sixties. We seem to be unable as a country to form a consensus on what it is we believe so we settle for a superficial and often deeply resented public hypocrisy that shreds under stress into vitriolic debate.
Honesty and coherence might go over better.