Friday, August 1, 2014

Obama's Virility Quotient

Apparently, Barack Obama has a low VQ. That is, he has a low virility quotient.

Adam Gopnik is appalled to see the media, and especially the conservative media, denouncing our wise, thoughtful, judicious president as a wimp, a weakling… and dare we say it, slightly effeminate.

He writes, tongue in cheek:

Barack Obama is not a tough guy. Everybody rolls him. He’s a wimp, a weak sister; he won’t stand up for himself or his country. Vladimir Putin, a true tough guy, blows planes out of the air, won’t apologize, walks around half-naked. Life, it seems, is like a prison yard, and Obama cowers in a corner. “It would be a hellish thing to live with such timidity. … He’sscared of Vladimir Putin,” one Fox News contributor said about the President. But this kind of thing is not confined to the weirder fringes: Maureen Dowd pointed out a while ago that former fans of Obama “now make derogatory remarks about your manhood,” while the Wall Street Journal’s editorial page runs a kind of compendium of “weak sister” pieces every morning, urging the President, at one point, to make more “unambiguous threats”—making unambiguous threats evidently being the real man’s method of getting his way.

Of course, Gopnik explains that there is nothing wrong with being a woman. He might have added that great women leaders—see Margaret Thatcher—often have a very high VQ.

Before proceeding, we must underscore the fact that Democrats and their satraps in the media often denounce Republicans for having an excessively high VQ.

How often have Republicans been attacked as war-mongers, baby killers, torturers, sexual predators, mass murderers, serial killers and the like. Surely, the left-wing media wants the public to believe that Republicans are suffering from an excess of testosterone.

When conservative media outlets suggest that Obama has a low VQ they are simply engaging in the other side of the rhetorical tactic that Democrats have been using since the Vietnam War.

This blogger has not been trafficking in said rhetoric, but has often noted that Obama is disengaged from world events. He has failed to manage foreign policy… whether the Arab Spring, the war in Syria, the crisis in the Ukraine, what have you.

This morning in the Wall Street Journal Joseph Lieberman, surely not a member of the Neanderthal wing of the Republican party, explains that President Obama does not appear to be standing with our friends or against our enemies.

By appearing to support the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and the Turks and the Qataris against Israel he seems to be doing anything but.

Gopnik believes that, when faced with crises, Obama veers toward reason:

Obama—contemptibly, in this view—offers off-ramps in the direction of reason even when faced with the most fanatical opponents, who are bent on revenge for mysterious, sectarian motives, and yet he still tries to appease them. 

But, since when is reason or the thoughtful conduct of diplomacy a sign of either manliness or femininity?

Sending your Secretary of State to Cairo to revel in the election of Mohamed Morsi has nothing to do with reason. Trying to save Hamas has nothing to do with reason.

Obama’s problem has nothing to do with reason. A rational actor is an actor. He is engaged; he is conducting policy. As I and many others have often noted, Obama stands aside from crises because he does not have enough experience to know what to do.

True enough, his diehard supporters want us to believe that he is simply more rational than the rest of us, but the world, as Madeleine Albright recently said, is a mess and one reason is, the absence of leadership.

After caricaturing Obama’s critics as irrational warmongers Gopnik declares that Obama is doing the best that he can and that everyone knows it.

Examine Gopnik’s text:

The curious thing, though, is how much the talk about manliness—and Obama’s lack of it—is purely and entirely about appearances. In the current crisis over the downed Malaysian plane, all the emphasis is on how it looks or how it might be made to look—far more than on American interests and much less on simple empathy for the nightmarish fate of the people on board. The tough-talkers end up grudgingly admitting that what the President has done—as earlier, with Syria—is about all that you could do, given the circumstances.  Their own solutions are either a further variant on the kinds of sanctions that are already in place—boycott the World Cup in Russia!—or else are too militarily reckless to be taken seriously. Not even John McCain actually thinks that we should start a war over whether Donetsk and Luhansk should be regarded as part of Ukraine or Russia. The tough guys basically just think that Obama should have looked scarier. The anti-effeminate have very little else to suggest by way of practical action—except making those unambiguous threats and, apparently, baring your teeth while you do.

The truth is more complex. Given the fact that Obama has persuaded the world that he is disengaged and disinterested, anything that he does will be seen as macho posturing.

Obama’s opponents feel obliged to suggest alternatives, and many of these alternatives do not inspire confidence. Unfortunately, given the president’s character, given the way he has presented himself on the world stage, no one would believe him if he suddenly stepped forward to take charge. Everyone would see it as posturing.

Obama does not need a higher VQ to sound more unambiguously pro-Israeli and stop his efforts to suck up to the Iranians. He needs enough understanding of the world and his role in it.

It wouldn’t make him look like a warmonger to stand up and lend his voice to those who have denounced the genocide being committed against Christians in Mosul.

True enough, the State Department has denounced ISIS for its ethnic cleansing, but what would prevent the president from adding his voice to the denunciations?

But, Gopnik asks, where did this cult to toughness come from? He answers, correctly that it goes back to the John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson administrations.

He does not quite say it, but next to Dwight Eisenhower, John Kennedy looked like a child, in over his head, out of his depth. It is well known that Kennedy provoked the Cuban missile crisis because he was afraid of looking weak. And that he got us involved in Vietnam because he was afraid of looking weak. Lyndon Johnson kept us in Vietnam for the same reason.

Could it be that you are afraid of appearing weak because you are weak? One must consider the possibility.

As it happened, President Eisenhower was offered the opportunity to intervene in Indochina in 1954, to save beleaguered French troops. He passed.

Given who he was, and given his reputation, he did not have to make any macho displays.

[I discussed this question at greater length in my book, Saving Face.]

The moral of the story is: don’t elect presidents who are short on experience and long on charisma. They might fool the American people, but they will not be able to fool other world leaders.

Given who Obama is, he had to display some machismo before his last election… as he did in killing Osama bin Laden and in conducting the drone war.

But, Obama belongs to a branch of the Democratic party that no longer fears being seen as weak. In fact, it wears the label as a badge of honor.

Unfortunately, Gopnik defines the choice between tough guys and wise guys. By tough guys he means guys who have to make a conspicuous display of their manliness because everyone knows that they are short a few VQ points. He does not recognize the category of men who have earned their reputation as leaders and do not need to indulge in macho posturing.

In Gopnik’s words:

We don’t need tough guys. We need wise guys. We’ve tried tough guys, and it always ends in tears. Tough guys you know right away because they’re never scared of a fight. Wise guys you only know in retrospect, when you remember that they quietly walked away from the fight that now has the tough guy in a hospital. Wise women do that, too.

Of course, it is not always a good thing to walk away from a fight.

Since we are trafficking in historical analogies, recall the American president who famously declared that he was “too proud to fight.”

In early 1915, after the Germans sunk the Lusitania there was a great hue and cry for Woodrow Wilson to defend American honor and to get involved in the Great War.

Wilson chose to stand aside and to avoid the fight… until 1918.

The war raged on, in a stalemate that killed millions of soldiers and that paved the way for the rise of Communism, Nazism and fascism.

Throughout it, former president Theodore Roosevelt excoriated the Wilson administration for being weak and ineffectual. He wanted it to intervene and to put an end to the slaughter.

Finally, in 1918 the Wilson administration sent our troops to Europe. They brought the war to an end in a few months.

You can say that Wilson was wise to avoid a fight. But, if you look at the millions who died while he was dithering and how quickly America’s presence put an end to the conflict, you would not be so quick to conclude that it is always good and wise to be “too proud to fight.”


Anonymous said...

"Finally, in 1918 the Wilson administration sent our troops to Europe. They brought the war to an end in a few months."

The war would have ended much sooner if UK hadn't gotten involved.
Germany would have defeated Russia and France earlier and brokered some kind of deal.

But UK got involved and prolonged the war. Then US got involved and ensured the defeat of Germany. Then, economic war was waged on democratic Germany, driving the people to desperation and eventually supporting Hitler.

The lesson. DO NOT GET INVOLVED. If UK and US stayed out of WWI, it would have ended earlier. A European continent dominated by Germany(prior to rise of Nazis) would have a good thing.

Anonymous said...

I've read that All European leaders knew it was hopeless in 1916. Even if they won, so what? There was nothing to win. A hollow victory that killed or mangled their finest young men.

They feared riots and revolution if they told the truth. Their peoples had suffered so much already. They wouldn't accept it was all for naught. Demagogues would echo them, perhaps take the govt. into chaos.

I'm not sure if: 1. Leaders knew. 2. Their fears had merit.

It was a dark, morbid, parlous time. We call the Great Influenza "The Spanish Flu" because it was a State Secret everywhere but Spain, which wasn't in the war. Their news reported it.

The Flu began in Ft. Riley, Kansas. Entire divisions were laid low.

I've sometimes fear WCiv as we know it began to fall in 1914.

Wilson was a Prof. in Poli Sci. One of our worst. His strokes began before the war ended. We think. That was a State Secret too. -- Rich Lara

David Foster said...

"Life, it seems, is like a prison yard"

Well, the world of international relations DOES have some of the characteristics of a prison yard.

But Obama prefers to ignore this, and to bring the attitudes of the prison yard INSIDE this country. Hamas and other terrorist organizations will in his view be amenable to sweet reason; but Republicans and other Heretic groups within the US are the real enemy who must be dealt with unmercifully.

Sam L. said...

"We don’t need tough guys. We need wise guys."

This guy is not wise. Nor is Obama.

jim sweeney said...

America entered WW I in 1917, not 1918. April 6th as I recall

Anonymous said...

It is humorous to hear Lefties talk of a "virility quotient." Here are misanthropic Malthusians complaining that people on Fox News are tying a President's success on the world stage to the capacity and importance of spreading one's seed. Then we throw in Margaret Thatcher, and things get really interesting. Not that we're talking about masculine conquering in a real sense, of course, but as a measure of potency and respect. So now we're talking about the Obama persona like a Cialis ad. Will ObamaCare cover Cialis? The irony is delicious.

When we are vigorously attempting to emasculate men to create this "post-gender" culture -- where we hold woman as the civilized, empathic, nurturing standard -- Obama is leading the way. So, along with being post-racial and post-gender, I guess we'll be post-superpower, too. And we'll be be told this is a good thing, as though it's self-evident. Who's going to lead us?

Left-wing media culture is looking more and more like a throng of catty, insecure middle school girls, throwing around adult concepts they don't understand and either giggling or crying about it. Adam Gopnik is an excellent example of this kind of tripe. It all feeds the victimhood cult.

Poor Obama... the world is so unfair to him. If only he could go on Oprah to get validation and encouragement so he could have his mojo back and his NBC News/Washington Post VQ score could rise.

If saying that virility matters puts me in the Neanderthal wing of American society, then sign me up to star in a Geico ad. Chicks will dig cavemen if people like Obama are posed as the alternative.


Dennis said...

Did Obama run for the presidency on the idea he had the wherewithal to handle the job? Either that he was lying to everyone or he thought it was a great place to force transformative change on everyone.
I am having a very hard time feeling sorry for Obama especially considering the hash he has made of a significant number of people in this country. One makes their bed and they have to sleep in it. Its called taking responsibility.
Many a president has had a significant number of detractors, but most of them acted like men and did what the believed correct. One is elected to do the best for the country and all of its citizens.
Both Johnson and Grant suffered mightily in attempting to push Lincoln's desires for the South and union. Take a little time and learn the forgotten history of this country. We have had freedom because of those virile men who have been there to keep it.
It does seem that the more female we become the more we like to talk and the less we like to take action to solve problems. The more we talk the more we believe it will go away and so another few rounds of golf and fund raisers are always more important.
Did you ever wonder why face to face meetings are so important? Because one can gauge the seriousness of people's intentions far better than online gatherings. Nothing is better that being there. Over half of life is being there to have an affect on it. Chester Arthur turned into a good president even though he didn't want the job and was far more interested in partying. He was a far better manager than at first it seemed and stood his ground. Arthur meet the exigencies of the office and gave class to the WH by hiring James Tiffany. Obama has not yet stepped up to the requirements of the job.

David Foster said...

tip..."Chicks will dig cavemen if people like Obama are posed as the alternative."

Shortly after 9/11, some town put up a billboard honoring firemen and other emergency workers. A professor responded with an editorial expressing concern about too much praise for "traditionally-masculine men."

I suspect one factor influencing many male "progressives" is sexual fear and a consequent desire to create a social climate in which men perceived as highly masculine are devalued. After all, hasn't the warrior been considered as sexually appealing to women in most societies throughout history?

OTOH, single women DID support Obama strongly during both elections.