Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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The Metaphorical Puff

(You have to read Julie’s post below and the comments on it before reading this.) I’m amazed, first of all, that I seem to have thoroughly ticked off more NLT readers on this issue than any other. That "cigarettes represent a metaphor" for Julie/Peggy and even me should have been obvious. And candidates that do exude Bogart/Rick manliness do and really deserve to have an advantage. They have character. I hasten to add that there is Mormon manliness; they’re tough and do better than almost all other Americans in resisting degrading, sophisticated fashion. But Romney, as Juile says, is going to have to find a way to display his to the American people. You don’t HAVE to smoke or drink to be Bogart, and it’s true enough that you’ll usually live longer if you’re only metaphorically a smoker.

Discussions - 24 Comments

Hey man, I got (had) character too!!

I think your getting a reaction because the three of you are (seems to me) trying bit to hard to be clever. I for one simply wanted to talk about something substantive so I ignored the "depth" of the "metaphor"...;)

Peter: Don’t you think it will be very hard to make the "Mormon" manliness you describe endearing? I’m not saying that it can’t be made to appeal to the strict intellect of a thoughtful electorate. But I am saying that it lacks love handles. Without them a very great amount of humor will be necessary. Does Romney have that? I’m honestly asking. I don’t know.

Here’s an idea for "manliness" -- firm and clear adherence to conservative positions, whether they’re popular or not. Not letting the liberals and their media telling you what you can say. That kind of thing.

Once again True right has cut through some of this superficial manliness bs. We need to stop focusing on such silly things.

I wonder if conservativism by definition can ever be cool, manly yes, but cool I doubt. Cool appears to come with a certain rebelliousness and disdain for authority that strikes me as largely un-conservative. I don’t wish to say that liberals have cornered the market on cool but that conservativism will forever, Im affraid, have that "old men with bad wedgies" aura, at least in the minds of a significant portion of the electorate. I admire Clint and TR’s adherence to conservative principle in the face of fashion but I think they overestimate how conservative America truly is. Manliness is an image that conservatives ignore at their peril. As Julie says the need is to actually win.

I agree with Julie and FL, and I don’t think Clint and True Right have realized that they represent, at most, one half of the country. No one is going to meet all your conservative checklist requirements and be elected- they need something more than a "firm and clear adherence to conservative positions" because they have to win over people who do not share them.

When the word "cool" is used, it’s not meant in the fashionable or MTV sense, which you guys still seem not to grasp hence your disdain; we’re talking about the easy and confident charisma of Churchill and FDR (both smokers). Julie’s point (I think) was that there often seems to be a correlation between individuals who smoke by choice and said virtue. A conservative of that nature has yet to throw down.

Finally, I was very dissappointed by the discussion on smoking. I used in the earlier threads I have to hear ad nauseam from my roommate’s flaming-liberal girlfriend. It has nothing to do with libertarianism, it has everything to do with small buisiness owners deciding what to do with their property.

*I have to hear the arguments used in the earlier threads ad nauseam. . .*

Let’s not confuse "manliness" with "coolness." If we’re too concerned about the second, we may sacrifice the first.

For God’s sake, I don’t expect the candidate to perfectly fulfill a conservative "checklist." Nor do I think the American people are particularly conservative. I do think a candidate who is unapologetic about whatever conservative views he has will make conservatism look more attractive, will hold more of us disaffected conservative voters, and will get respect from many moderates even if they disagree with him.

Can we agree on this, TR?: in the absence of a genuinely manly Republican who is appealing both because he has virtue and because his virtue is not a weapon, the void will be filled with a "cool" Democrat who will win. Look, I’m not arguing for the GOP equivalent of Obama. I’m just hoping people don’t write off Obama’s appeal as a media creation (the media tries, but rarely creates anything). I don’t want people to underestimate him. I also don’t want the GOP to neglect to see how important it is to get someone on the ticket who, because of his initial appeal, can persuade enough of the electorate to support our issues for the right reasons. I think it is very foolish to pretend that these things are beneath us.

1. Obama smokes.

2. Bogart/Rick smokes.

Therefore, Obama and Bogart/Rick have comparable character?

Oh, man, how lame can you get?

David, who said that? I give up. People will deliberately try to misunderstand the point here.

Julie’s point remains that Obama has something attractive that points in the direction of character--some combination of manliness and cool. Maybe he’s different from the fictional Bogey/Rick insofar as the perception of his character is not really backed up by courageous and remarkable deeds. Smoking, of course, is not really enough and not really much of anything at all. And it would be better too if the perception of character were backed up with a record of competence in difficult situations, as it is in Giulian’s case. Having said that, there is something about Obama that’s real and separable from both competence and "ideology." It really will make him hard to beat.

Julie asks: David, who said that? I give up. People will deliberately try to misunderstand the point here.

Well, let’s see, Lawler said that Obama’s "embrace of that risk [smoking] makes him a man in the great tradition of Bogart etc." And he said, "Candidates that do exude Bogart/Rick manliness do and really deserve to have an advantage. They have character."

If you can’t parse the syllogism in those lines, you need to have another go at Logic 101.

David, When I say stuff like that (and maybe I shouldn’t) I do so with some irony. There are whole websites devoted to ridiculous things I say in class out of context. In addition to the logical problem, which I think doesn’t exist in rhetorical context, you might add that Rick is not a real guy and that deep down CASABLANCA is a self-indulgent and unrealistic movie (see may chapter in the Pontuso collection on the movie). And I have to admit I couldn’t have stayed awake during Logic 101. The deep theme is all these posts is what bourgeois bohemian political correctness has done to real men in our time. And I think Julie and Carl have expressed that theme better than I have.

Lawler writes: The deep theme [in] all these posts is what bourgeois bohemian political correctness has done to real men in our time. And I think Julie and Carl have expressed that theme better than I have.

Deep? Rarely has a more pedestrian theme been more obscurely stated.

Republican candidates who stick by their guns on foreign policy and warfighting issues won’t usually need to prove their manliness. Its Democrats who benefit from that sort of thing because its Democrats that the electorate harbors doubts about.

Vice is one way of dispelling the goody-two-shoes stereotype. The other way is being personable and having just a little bit of an edge to your character. What Romney would have to do is more of some press conference clip I saw a bit ago where some reporter is rambling on and Romney cuts him off, saying something like ’Look, the people did not elect your Governor’ and starts laughing at him and amazingly everyone else starts laughing too.

When the GOP finds a candidate that makes Republicans sexy for the first time in their history, we’ll know for sure the realignment has been completed. Unfortunately, that will not be 2008. Julie and Peter: Thank you for the threads and links, I agree with you that much of this discussion has been lost on our vanilla souled comrades so I’m done with this thread.

Ok, David, to make my meaning more clear, let me replace deep with "deep," which signifies postmodern irony about depth.

Andrew, my only quibble with you is your suggestion that when or if the GOP finds a "sexy" candidate it will be (to use another metaphor that may offend our friends here but I know you will appreciate) their "first time." The GOP is not a virgin in this. We’ve done it before and we should be able to do it better now. Thanks for your sense of humor and for getting mine! But now, like you, I’m finished here!

"But now, like you, I’m finished here!" -- The Ponz

You were finished before you started. You had nothing worth saying and took forever to say it.

Spoken like a true admirer of Salmon P. Chase. The only difference between TR and I is that I would like to see someone with that kind of "adherence" actually win.

Not only was little said, but what was turns out wrong. Julie, would you like to explain your record on selecting electable candidates? You say that I sacrifice electability, but does Ken Blackwell ring any bells to you? You were all over the worst candidate in the Ohio GOP (electability-wise).

Also there was never any defense about the un-"cool" image of Bush. He gave up all the vices that you so love, brags about going to bed early, getting up early, and reading the Bible. He’s a real California cool dude, don’t you think?...with two big election wins.

I am man, hear me roar ... err ... hack ... couph ... and then ...


To Clint, re: Blackwell. Blackwell lost not because he was uncool or unelectable. He lost because he ran a bad campaign, did not present himself as who he really is, and did not have the real support of his party (who were largely compromised anyway because of Taft)--and then there was the general national tide against Republicans. All of these factors made it "not the right time" for Blackwell. Lincoln lost many elections before he became electable. One needs a bit of good luck on one’s side in addition to everything else. Blackwell is young and he can still redeem himself under the right conditions.

Bush? Bush is not "cool" in the sense I mean it. But his lack of coolness is not because of the virtues you delineate. One can get up early, go to bed early and read the Bible, avoid strong drink and alcohol and even our old friend tobacco, and yet be cool in the sense I describe. Ultimately the kind of coolness I describe probably comes down to an understanding of and a sympathy for the people one is to govern. That is what explains the "sense of humor" I was talking about. That is why people are willing to tolerate humanizing small vices if they are not overdone. Bush seems--whether he actually is or not--aloof from the sentiments of the people. Although he won two big elections, he barely won them. Although he has done much good while in office, he has not marshaled public opinion to support him. His popularity ratings (though too much can be made of this) are so low that it must be embarrassing--not only to himself but to his supporters. I think the example of Bush actually MAKES my case for me. Imagine what a different situation we would find ourselves in if Bush had popular support. He was going to lose the lefties, no matter what. But he did not have to lose so many otherwise sensible people. He might very easily have explained himself better all along the way. He could have, if he had been cool. But, alas, he is not.

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