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Friday, April 02, 2004

Holy shit

Instapundit is going nuts over a DAISY that John Kerry had hanging off his jacket. Understandably, The Talent Show and Pandagon are really upset and perplexed. It's easy to see conservatives as pathological or freaky or desperate to go after a stupid plastic flower.
But there is a very, very, very good reason for conservatives to go after things like this. And yes, it is, as usual, an issue of language, metaphor and imagery.
When commentators on the TV and radio say that Bush is "strong" on national security, they are referring not to any actual policy decisions and how well they work on preventing terrorism--on that issue, the Democrats have a much better track record. It's only in the metaphorical sense.
When most Americans think of somebody "strong" defending "home", they draw on the picture of the strong father, protecting his wife and children against mysterious threats. Daddy may or may not understand those threats, but the wife and children don't need to; all they need to know is that Daddy will protect them. This is an image that Bush and Co. fill well, and they cultivate this image by using words like "homeland" to evoke home and by confusing the public on foreign policy so that we are more likely to give up and trust Daddy to take care of us.
But then Kerry runs, and Kerry is quickly becoming a more appealing version of Daddy. He's the Daddy that we wish we had. Just as tough and strong, but also intelligent, glamorous and just. He's like Michael Landon or something. And for many Americans, intelligent and just do not necessarily undermine tough, so the Bushies are panicking.
So, they are looking for a way to undermine his masculinity, because by definition, Daddy is a Man, particularly Daddy as a Warrior. Even then, they are still grasping for ways to emasculate Kerry, because he really is a man's man in a lot of ways. So the second he has a moment of whimsy, they go ballistic. Real Men are not whimsical.
They can try, I guess. It is unlikely to work. A little bit of goofiness is expected of men now. It can actually add to the perception that a man is virile, because it shows he's not too hung up on stupid stuff. We'll see.


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