On the Hotness of Their Women

photo courtesy flickr user Muffet
photo courtesy flickr user Muffet

It can be challenging to pick out individual threads from the tapestry of jaw-dropping nuttiness that constitutes the right-wing of the current Republican base. Watching the incoherent, but violent, tempest that was the teabag protest inspired feelings of despair. Here, it seemed, were a mass of people wholly uninterested in fact, in dialogue, who were convinced they knew the truth of how things were. Their desire, from all appearances, was to threaten, to establish that President Obama, and liberals generally, ought to back off, lest they bring repercussions down on themselves.

Yet it is crucial nonetheless to understand the reasons that undergird these seemingly reasonless actions. In the spirit of addressing the question, of what those reasons might be, I submit this recent comment from one Jason Mattera. At the recent Values Voter Summit, Sarah Posner reports

During the panel, Mattera took the David and Goliath metaphor another perverse step: If conservatives (David) smite liberals (Goliath), they will be rewarded with the hot conservative women, just like King Saul promised his daughter to the warrior who slew the evil giant. “You know his daughter must have been beautiful because there’s no guy whose gonna die for an ugly girl,” Mattera chortled. “Our women are hot. We have Michelle Malkin. Who does the left have, Rachel Maddow? Sorry, I prefer that my women not look like dudes.”

Now, there are numerous easy targets in those comments. There is the tiresome insistence that one of the main, if not the main, component of female power and influence is their appearance, specifically their appearance as it interacts with the sex drive of the heterosexual male. This is obviously terrible but also uninteresting. There is the dig at Rachel Maddow for not being attractive like Michelle Malkin (spoiler alert: she doesn’t care if you’re attracted to her, Jason!). The sinister linguistic tic of referring to women in a possessive sense– “our,” “we have,” “my women” –revealing, of course, a certain degree of uncertainty about the degree to which the speaker really has control over the women in his life.

It is no news flash that female freedom terrifies and infuriates the Republicans. The interesting element here is the presumption that sexual attraction must be the underlying factor in David’s decision to fight Goliath. Now, of course we must note that Mattera is likely making a joke. Still, it’s worth remembering the actual reason David fought Goliath: David’s people were at war with Goliath’s. Of course, no one knows how exactly this all went down, but I found it interesting that Mattera, at the Values Voter Summit, emphasized not the religious angle, and not the war/nationalism angle, but the sexy daughter angle.

The thread I am picking at here is the growing trust in emotionality that partly characterizes the recent Republican party. Joe Wilson shouting “You lie!” Glenn Beck weeping. Town hall protestors screaming at their representatives, in some cases expressly hoping to end discussion rather than participate in it. It is a movement that, more and more, relies on the instinctive, passionate, emotional responses to the world. Sexy women are awesome. Ugly women are bad. Obama is black, he is different, he is not to be trusted.

This mindset is, sad to say, awful at all the things a citizen of an advanced nation needs to be doing during a time of crisis and struggle. Complicated issues do not benefit from an emotional consideration.

Plenty of Blame

In his column today, Frank Rich pointed something out that I think us liberals would do well to remember.  President Obama’s inauguration speech was not only a statement of his intent to make some changes, to rectify some of the mistakes that his predecessor made, but

Obama wasn’t just rebuking the outgoing administration. He was delicately but unmistakably calling out the rest of us who went along for the ride as America swerved into the dangerous place we find ourselves now.

Indeed. Although I would point out that it may be hard for people who didn’t vote for Bush, who criticized his every move, to feel especially responsible for the actions taken in our name–especially in the foreign policy arena. Nevertheless, point taken: fix the country first, complain about Bush later.

Of course, that being said, it’s still the case that Bush and his associates must face consequences for their war crimes, their perjury and obstruction of justice.  Many ideas are being floated to deal with this, but something must be done.  It would be unacceptable for such crimes to go unpunished.

A New President

So, readers, I have been working on refitting this site after a long absence–during which time, it seems, wordpress has gone through some changes.  Overall, though, I am reminded what a terrible time the last 8 years have been.  President Bush led assaults on science, choice, open government, fiscal sanity, peace, and our reputation in the world, just to name a few.

Obviously, the election and imminent inauguration of President Obama will be a titanic step in the right direction.  Still, worries linger.  The economy has been cut down, and our military creaks under the strain of 2 wars, neither pursued with acumen or wisdom.

Can Obama solve these problems?  Is there hope?  These are the questions I think about.  Of course, no one person can save us; we must save ourselves.  What, though, does it mean to save ourselves?

I propose that we should save ourselves from the cruelty of chance, by instituting universal health coverage.  From the avarice of the powerful, by taxing income at one rate without regard to the source, and by regulating financial transactions more rigorously.  From the whims of our leaders, by strengthening our constitutional freedoms and protections against abuse of power.  And, finally, from the delusions of the many, by supporting the full separation of church and state.

The preceding paragraph may come as no surprise, given the political views of this blog, but it’s worth noting that, although we have elected a Democrat, many battles lie ahead.  Good luck, Mr. Obama, and good luck America.