The difference between mommies and daddies is not love. A daddy who doesn't seem to care about you is not good for much, either in personal or political life. But daddies and mommies tend to have different ways of expressing care and concern. A friend of mine described recently what happened when his 3-year-old son fell down and scraped his knee. Mommy, naturally, ran to comfort him with coos and concern and kisses. Daddy brushed him off, checked out his scrape and reassured him with brusque words: "You are just fine. Go back and play."
Mommies feel your pain. Daddies give you confidence that you can ignore the pain and get on with life. Children -- and adults -- obviously need both: a shot in the arm and a sense of connection. So President Bush refers questions about his emotions to Laura Bush, an obviously much-loved and respected mate. His wife keeps track of his inner life. He concentrates on action, whether it's blocking tax increases "over my dead body" or smokin' terrorists out of caves.
When you are scared as Americans have been, you want to know that there is a daddy in charge, not only to protect but to inspire. President Bush's genius is not only to reassure Americans that he is up to the job at hand but, more important, that so are we.
Maggie Gallagher is a nationally syndicated columnist, a leading voice in the new marriage movement and co-author of The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially.