Saturday, January 24, 2009
One of my most visceral memories of the new president was an interview where he was "getting tough" on all those unjust critics of his wife. He was really playing the part well, but I remember my gut level reaction being, "Or what- you gonna slap me?" As he continued to present what he thought was toughness I started laughing. Because to anyone who grew up on the other side of the tracks Obama is not tough. He's an emasculated metrosexual academic. A Whole Foods guy. This was really clear to me when I read his description of rebellion from his college days. "We ground our cigarettes into the carpet and played our music loud..." (probably not an exact quote). I found those passages of his book, and there were lots of them, hilarious. Because from my real world lower class, barrio perspective, rich private school guys like Obama are rarely rebellious tough guys. Oh, wait, he tried Coke too. Wow. Never been threatened by gangs, never got into a real brawl, or went down to Watts or South Central to see what real tough guys were like. I always imagined him and his friends thinking a real "daring adventure" would be going to the kind of Mexican dive I grew up in and associating with all the"people." You can just imagine them sitting there looking around them at all the "diversity" and feeling really hip and cool. Just one of la gente ( the people). Or I imagine him hanging out at Whole Foods smoking herbal cigarettes making suggestive, but PC comments to all the ladies, "Did I ever tell you that you have a beautiful mind. Bet you're gonna brake the glass ceiling huh?" "Wanna experience totally equitable passion?" You get the picture.
Maybe I am not completely fair here, but I am closer to the truth than many would like to admit. The guy went to private schools his whole life and tried way too hard to rebel, but always in a politically correct, establishment approved way. This is the kind of black man you cross the street... and say hi to. Which is not all bad. let's face it. Barack Obama is a likeable man with some real sincerity, despite his political heredity of dirty Chicago. Neither is there anything inherently wrong with the "New Man" of the left. Like any image or persona, it has strengths and weaknesses. The New Man was obviously a reaction to some of the failures of the old masculine warrior type of the past. But like the masculine hard-edged cowboy type, the New Man has his inherent problems too. Specifically, he is not capable of instilling immediate respect or even fear in men who come from a more masculine culture like hispanic, or- and here's the kicker- Islamic culture. The gut level response from a male culture to a man like our new president is an instinctive awareness and probing for weakness. Obama's western, postmodern male is perceived as inherently weak and easily controlled.
So what does the hyper-masculine world of Islamists thinks about the New Boss? Definitely not the same as the Old Boss. He is not the kind of guy who takes you out to the wood shed. He's the new male, sensitive and thoughtful, attuned to his emotions, let's sit and talk about this, which is exactly what he has committed to do, unconditionally, with the world's most dangerous men. How do you think they are going to respond? How about, "Or what- you gonna slap me?"