In an AEI symposium of conservative women, participants cheered the toughness and courage of the New York firemen and policemen of Sept. 11 and the valor and strength of the American soldiers of Afghanistan and Iraq. Observed one of them: "Bill Clinton was virile - in a sleazy way." George W., on the other hand, exhibits a "contained channeled virility," displaying testosterone and camaraderie on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln.
These women lament the loss of chivalry in daily life. A mother among them recalls that when she was pregnant and riding the subway every day, a man rarely stood to offer her his seat. Charlotte Hays, a Mississippian, recalled her grandfather as the most masculine man in her life. "He supported seven children and never failed to stand when a woman came into the room."
Men were even more disdainful than the women of Al Gore as observed in the 2000 presidential campaign, reprieving some of the popular jests. Billy Crystal joked that Al Gore sounded like a "gay waiter." Harry Shearer, who does the voices for certain characters on "The Simpsons," said the former vice president sounded like a "gay robot."
Camille Paglia, the outspoken scholar of "sexual personae," was particularly vicious, judging that Al Gore's "prissy, lisping, Little Lord Fauntleroy persona . borders on epicene." Paglia, who appreciates men who act like men, calls masculinity "the most creative cultural force in history." She identifies the construction of America's beautifully constructed bridges as "sublime male poetry."
The panelists concluded that not only is "maleness" back in fashion among the nation's leadership, but that male aggression abetted and constrained by valor, honor and self-sacrifice is good for society. Kate O'Beirne, Washington editor of National Review, cut to the core. Answering Freud's famous question, "What do Women Want?" she offers an earthy rejoinder: "Women don't want a guy to feel their pain, they want a guy to clean the gutters."