Suzanne Fields

Do conservative women look for different qualities of masculinity in men than liberal women do? Is sex appeal not so much in the eye, but in a point of view? Do young Republicans and young Democrats have different ideas about "hooking up" (which is what young people call pairing off).

Like everything else in the soft science of psychology, it depends on the interpretation you read. Data can be dada. My favorite survey of the season was made by the Independent Women's Forum, a conservative woman's organization that contends with radical feminism with long red nails, good looks, educated smarts and a sense of humor. At the end of every summer, IWF interviews Capitol Hill interns who work in congressional offices during their summer vacations.

Interns are asked to compare their political, social (including sexual) experiences in Washington with those they left behind on campus. The most striking statistic to leap from the 221 interviews this year is that Democratic interns are five times more likely than Republican interns to report that "just hooking up with someone" was the most popular college date.

Only a third of the interns had not "hooked up" during the previous year on campus, and more than two-thirds had not "hooked up" with anyone in Washington. It's not clear whether that was the result of workaholic Washington, a preponderance of conservative Republicans or the short time for meeting a likely mate. Clearly, the typical intern is no longer a Monica.

The American Enterprise Institute, the conservative think tank, devotes the current issue of the American Enterprise magazine to the sexual differences between Democrats and Republicans, lauding the Bush administration in a cover story: "Real Men, They're Back."

Jay Nordlinger, managing editor of National Review, recalls the formulation of the Democrats as the "mommy party" and the Republicans as the "daddy party" and declares that men like George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld have made it "daddy party time" in the nation's capital.

This formulation echoes George Lakoff, professor of cognitive sciences at the University of California at Berkeley, who argues that modern conservatives speak to people in terms of "the strict father morality," and liberals act like the "nurturant parent."

In his configuration, "conservatives have left liberals in the dust" because their arguments frame the issues in a more compelling way. The father teaches right and wrong, self-discipline and self-reliance while preserving the safety net of "compassionate conservatism."

Suzanne Fields

Suzanne Fields is currently working on a book that will revisit John Milton's 'Paradise Lost.'

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