Saturday, September 22, 2012
To Be A Man
It's been a rough week here at Casa de Crazy. Without divulging details, it involves Thing One and requires a great deal of time and effort from me.
Many people have noted that it's important to take care of myself in all this. It's psychologically draining.
But on the other hand, I think about what it means to be an adult. Being an adult means taking responsibility for your actions. Kids run away from their actions. They hide from their deeds. Adults face up to them. Certainly a large part of Thing One's problems is that he's still a child.
But being a man means something different than being an adult. Being a man means standing things that have to be stood. It means doing the hard things BECAUSE they are hard.
As a youth, I certainly skipped my share of hard things. We all do. But I was also a wrestler and a rugby player. That forces you to do hard things. Before I wrestled, I had no idea what hard work was. Before I played rugby I had no idea what toughness was.
But a man stands forth and takes it. You take your lickings and you get back up and face the next one. And you do it, so that those who can't do it, don't have to. A man steps between danger and those that danger would harm. Not because it pays well or will get your mug in the newspapers. You do it because that's what a man does.
And since this is a political blog, here comes the pivot.
Mitt Romney's not a guy I would deign call a man.
For years, the Democrats were the "Mommy party" and the Republicans were the "Daddy party". That was intended as a slight to Democrats by the way. Since nurturing and caring for the weaker members of society was ghey or something.
But when I look at the modern GOP, I see a parody of manhood, like rappers talking about their bitches. These aren't men. They don't stand in front of the weak and state clearly, "Not here, not now, not while I'm drawing breath." Instead, they sell out the weak for a quick electoral rush.
Mitt Romney disgusts me, honestly. McCain didn't disgust me. Dole didn't disgust me. H.W. didn't disgust me (hell, I voted for him in '88). Dubya infuriated me. He was stupid, craven, shallow and vapid. He was, indeed, C+ Augustus.
But Romney is something altogether worse. Bush was certainly an arrested adolescent, but he was at least an adolescent you would've enjoyed knowing. Romney is still that kid who held down a boy and shaved his hair off. He's still the preening dick of the boarding school world. Bush was the good hearted doofus with more money than brains.
But Romney is not even that. He doesn't stand that which needs to be stood. He hires someone else to stand it for him. He outsources his responsibility. He offshores his courage, his manhood.
I think many members of the current GOP are like this. Maybe Romney wouldn't have become "Mr. 47%" if it wasn't for the shallow farce of manhood that the GOP has become. Maybe he would have become the Man Bill Weld might have been.
But if he had been, we would have known months ago. We would have known in the GOP debates. We would have known when he told Gary Bauer or Grover Norquist to pound sand. But he didn't.
Mitt Romney has no manhood, no character. He's the ultimate empty suit. This is why everyone who has run against him has come to despise him. And this is why he's going to lose. Perhaps in epic fashion.
Barack Obama, for all his flaws, is a man. When Scott Brown won Ted Kennedy's old seat - a Senate seat that had spent forty years fighting for universal health care - many told Obama to cash it in. Instead, he said he would keep fighting. Because a man stands between the uninsured and the debt collector. A man stands between a woman and lesser pay. A man stands between a lesbian soldier and a bigot. A man stands between those that would shut off all avenues to the middle class and a child who dreams of bigger things.
Obama took the least bad option (drones) to a terrible problem (terrorism) and has endured the contumely of his party for it. Similarly, he refused to allow GOP demands to extend the Bush tax cuts to short circuit extended unemployment insurance for millions.
For years we have become conditioned to think of the Democrats as the "women's party". But that has happened simultaneously with the degradation and warping of what our idea of manhood was. John Lewis could vote, but he stood on the Edmund Pettis bridge and got his head half stove in to allow other people to vote. George McGovern flew more bomber missions than he technically had to, so that some poor unskilled rookie wouldn't have to. John Kerry volunteered for Vietnam, because someone had to fight over there.
Meanwhile, the GOP has embraced the idea that swagger is the same as masculinity.
Well, a man steps up. A man does the things that need doing. A man stands between those that need help and the danger they face.
Mitt Romney and the modern GOP look to sell those people out.
That's the key point in the 47% speech. Screw all you losers. I got mine. You moochers can starve. Who says you're entitled to "food". That's why having Price Waterhouse release a letter about Romney's tax returns is a joke, not an act of courage.
So, I will bear what I have to bear for my son. I will stand what has to be stood. If I'm lucky, one day he will be a man himself and maybe even say, "thanks". But if he doesn't, that's OK, too. As long as he becomes the man I think he can be. That I hope he can be.
And I hope he becomes a man who stands for something besides privilege and self-interest. I hope he stands between those weaker than him and those that would harm them. I hope he devotes himself to something bigger than his own wants.
I hope he's nothing like Mitt Romney.