Wednesday, September 01, 2004
DUBYA'S SALVATION. Sometimes men really are as stupid as women tend to think they are. This is especially true when men try to understand things that are principally intended for women. I've spent most of the day reviewing blog reactions to last night's convention speakers, something I normally don't do. What got me started was the (to me) puzzling reaction of Brit Hume's panel to the performances of the Twins and the First Lady. Fred Barnes, Mort Kondracke, and Mara Liason were mostly faint in their praise of Laura Bush and from mildly to severely critical of the girls. Only Chris Wallace -- memorable for his immediate pan of Teresa Heinz-Kerry's speech -- continued to bolster my respect for his acumen by praising both. I was curious to see what the rest of the geniuses out there had to say, hence the hours of blogging.
Mostly, the bloggers and columnists agree with Fred and Mort. The Twins were terrible, an embarrasment, "cringe-inducing," a Republican mistake. Laura Bush was solid and likable but a letdown after Arnold and far from a homerun. These views are represented to one degree or another by such normally acute observers as Jonah Goldberg, Roger L. Simon, Glenn Reynolds, and many many more bloggers and blog-responders.
Mostly men, of course. And there's the rub. They weren't the target audience and they're not quite imaginative enough (at least today) to understand what they witnessed. Bush's weakest major demographic is women. All of the months of Democrat demonizing of Bush have taken their toll with women, who may be great at trusting their own instincts but are also prone to believing gossip, especially oft-repeated gossip. What have they been hearing from the malicious Democrat grapevine? That Bush lied. That he recklessly went to war and continues to seek out opportunities to put the lives of American youngsters at risk on the battlefield. That he's a spoiled power-elite rich kid with an irresponsible past and a tendency to let others do the hard work for him. That he's a whacked-out fundamentalist Christian. That the "compassionate conservative" of the first campaign was a sham and a disguise for the rabid right-wing ideologue underneath. That he is somehow sinister, conspiratorial, and not to be trusted.
Last night, the Twins and Laura Bush blew all of that claptrap out of the water for millions of American women who aren't going to be persuaded by the logic or factual arguments of John McCain and Rudy Giuliani. The Twins are clearly not the spawn of some dynastic clan which sits at table with the Illuminati. They are just like millions of other American girls their age -- awkward, corny, goofy, a bit lascivious, intentionally disrespectful, and full-time flirtatious. But they also evidently love their parents, both of them, and their performance was not the one we would have expected if they had a cold and distant father for whom they were doing a public family duty. Who would make sex jokes at a party convention if you had the kind of dad who was going to land on you like a ton of bricks afterwards? The Twins were a HUGE plus for George W.
As to the First Lady, I can't even begin to understand how so much pundit brainpower could fail to perceive the immense impact of her speech. She was, by her mere presence, an eloquent and elegant takedown of the pretensions of Teresa Heinz-Kerry. Mrs. Bush is mannerly, intelligent, warm, and modest, yet confident and beautifully clear eyed. Her smile is the kind that delights both the spouse and the children. She is the kind of woman that women like (unlike Heinz-Kerry), which is far less common than most men understand. Women who look at her know that she is good and strong, and they know that she really does love and admire her husband. Therefore, they know that he must possess sufficient virtue to have earned that love and admiration. Her low-key descriptions of her husband walking in the garden, wrestling with issues of war and terror, cannot be contrived. A false word would cloud such pure eyes and diminish the beautiful smile. She is a completely genuine person, and by her association with George W. Bush, she washes away from him much of the dung that has been slopped on him. Her speech may be the single most important one of the convention. It was a grand-slam homerun -- with her two daughters and husband on base..
To those who think it presumptuous for a man to speak so confidently on such matters I will say only that I have made a determined effort, over many years, to understand the deep differences between men and women. I have done so during an epoch when such differences have been dismissed as politically incorrect nonsense or twisted into pro-feminist propaganda (the only permitted sex differences are those which favor women; e.g., the nicer, more perceptive, more cooperative spiel). I have used my conclusions many times to make fun of feminism, female mental processes, and women generally. Now there is a positive use for what I've learned, and I offer it in all humility. But if you suspect that I am wrong, search the Internet for reviews of the Twins and their Mother by female pundits. If you read carefully past the partisan posturing, you will discover that I am right about this. Even fanatical Democratic women are going to have a hard time criticizing Laura Bush, and if they seem to underrate her impact on voters, look for the fear behind the words.
George W. Bush's wife is the most potent weapon in his arsenal.