So­cial con­ser­va­tives just love a ‘real man’

Over­con­fi­dent, ar­ro­gant char­ac­ters are lion­ized

Cape Breton Post - - Op-Ed - Emma Tei­tel Na­tional Af­fairs Emma Tei­tel is a colum­nist with Torstar Syn­di­ca­tion Ser­vices.

This week we learned that the White House isn’t re­ally the white house. It’s a frat house with a man­i­cured lawn.

How else can you de­scribe a place where a guy who goes by the nick­name “The Mooch” (a.k.a. re­cently ap­pointed and sacked White House com­mu­ni­ca­tions direc­tor An­thony Scara­mucci) re­port­edly misses the birth of his child so that he can hang with his buddy, a guy called “The Don­ald”? (a.k.a. the Pres­i­dent of the United States, Don­ald Trump.)

I un­der­stand that no­body’s per­fect. I will never know the in­ti­mate de­tails of Scara­mucci’s fam­ily life, and there­fore I prob­a­bly shouldn’t judge that life es­pe­cially con­sid­er­ing the fact that though he gained a son, Scara­mucci just lost his job.

Trump re­moved Scara­mucci from the po­si­tion of com­mu­ni­ca­tions direc­tor Mon­day only 10 days af­ter “The Mooch” took on the role; last week, he made an ex­ple­tive­laden phone call to a New Yorker re­porter, rant­ing about other se­nior White House staff.

But it’s so hard not to judge the man when, de­spite his pre­vi­ously so­cially lib­eral at­ti­tudes, he chose to align him­self with an anti-abor­tion ad­min­is­tra­tion that re­cently an­nounced a ban on trans­gen­der peo­ple serv­ing in the U.S. mil­i­tary. In other words, he made it very clear that he was happy to do the bid­ding of so­cial con­ser­va­tives, a de­mo­graphic ob­sessed with the pri­vate lives of other peo­ple, thereby open­ing up his own pri­vate life to sim­i­lar scru­tiny.

But such scru­tiny was ap­par­ently in short sup­ply dur­ing his brief term as one of the most pow­er­ful men in the free world. Even the Na­tional Re­view, the flag­ship con­ser­va­tive mag­a­zine in the United States, ap­peared op­ti­mistic about Scara­mucci’s ap­point­ment to one of the high­est po­si­tions in the na­tion, be­fore his sur­prise re­moval from the post this week: “The Mooch could be ex­actly what we need” is how one editorial writer put it.

You’d think so­cial con­ser­va­tives, a group that cares so deeply about pos­i­tive role mod­els for kids (and rou­tinely protests the pres­ence of LGBTQ char­ac­ters and abor­tion plot lines on TV) might take issue with a com­man­der-in-chief who is an al­leged groper and a White House com­mu­ni­ca­tions direc­tor who un­loaded ex­ple­tives about his col­leagues on the tele­phone. You’d think so­cial con­ser­va­tives, who rou­tinely cam­paign for role mod­els with Chris­tian val­ues on TV and in mu­sic, might be mildly con­cerned that their party’s pol­icy hawks have been re­placed by pol­icy jocks. But they aren’t. Why not?

My best guess is that for a lot of mod­ern Amer­i­can con­ser­va­tives, man­li­ness - or the tra­di­tional idea of what it means to be a man (brash, bold and in con­trol, a la Trump and “The Mooch”) - wins out against ev­ery­thing else. They’ve lion­ized over­con­fi­dent, ar­ro­gant char­ac­ters for so long (see the mass con­ser­va­tive fan fol­low­ings of The Wolf of Wall Street, Amer­i­can Psy­cho and, of course, Trump’s The Ap­pren­tice) that th­ese traits are no longer what they ex­pect to find in their vil­lains, but rather, in their he­roes.

This ad­mi­ra­tion for mon­eyed male mean­ness is at the heart of the ethos of the Proud Boys, the white na­tion­al­ist group founded by me­dia en­tre­pre­neur Gavin McInnes, whose uni­form is a Fred Perry polo, a shirt that typ­i­cally goes for about a hun­dred dol­lars Cana­dian.

It fol­lows then that an ab­sence of man­ners and hu­mil­ity is ac­cept­able in a leader, so long as he makes up for that de­fi­ciency with an abun­dance of ma­cho traits.

There­fore: ma­cho and mean is OK. But meek and kind is not. Of course, Ma­cho and kind, a la Jon Snow of Game of Thrones or Coach Tay­lor on Friday Night Lights, is OK, too. But ma­cho-ness is a non­nego­tiable pre­con­di­tion for re­spect. And de­cency will al­ways play sec­ond fid­dle to man­li­ness be­cause so­cial con­ser­va­tives are so nos­tal­gic for the myth of the “man’s man” in pub­lic life, they’re will­ing to en­ter­tain a sem­blance of that man in any va­ri­ety - even the va­ri­ety that skips the birth of his son while he spits in the face of the truth.

They will ex­pect no less and no more in Trump’s next hire. And, know­ing the pres­i­dent, he will de­liver.


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