Bill Maher took down every pretend Republican bully by scathingly tearing them open to expose the cowardly frauds that they really are.
And yet somehow conservatives — who boast by far the bigger list of non-serving chickenhawks — see themselves as the tough guys. But it’s rarely a real manliness, it’s more the pathetic bluster of a blogger in his bathrobe demanding that Obama “man up and bomb Iran!” while his mother fixes his macaroni and cheese.
None of this is going to get better until Democrats stop letting Republicans claim they’ve got the big balls, just because. For one, I never quite got how my life would be better with increased ball size. If you need to stick your balls in to get things going, you’re doing it wrong! And two, Democrats have to start being the party that redefines toughness as restraint. And stop responding to Republican taunts that have goaded Michael Dukakis into a tank, John Kerry into a duck hunting outfit, and Hillary Clinton into Iraq.
Because it’s not really masculinity conservatives love, anyway — it’s bullying. Somehow we’ve gone from Teddy Roosevelt’s “speak softly and carry a big stick” to Chris Christie’s “speak loudly and be a big dick”.
Fox News’s manly He-Man Brit Hume said liberals don’t get Christie, because he’s a, quote, “old fashioned masculine muscular guy”. Or maybe four muscular guys in a garbage truck.
But bullying isn’t a masculine virtue; standing up to bullies is. Ignoring society’s least-abled people is not masculine; taking care of them is. But to macho people like Rush Limbaugh, who said Obama not letting his son play football was “irresponsible”, or Glenn Beck — another fountain of testosterone — who called on Obama to “stop being a chick” about football, this is what it always comes down to: Obama is a pussy like all Democrats are pussies.
It’s all part of their narrative that “we will keep you safe, cuz we’re the real men who aren’t afraid to send your kids off to die in wars of choice. And the Democrats are a bunch of nancy-boys who think of war as some sort of last resort. They believe in engagement, and other pansy concessions that could lead to dialogue, or even worse, peace.”
The former Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, published his memoirs this month, and wrote something that seemed to be absolutely devastating about Obama, that he wasn’t enthusiastic about our war in Afghanistan, and that for him, it was all about getting out. That’s bad?!? Gates said George Bush was a good President because he “had no second thoughts about Iraq”. Right. Because to have second thoughts, you first have to have first thoughts!
Maher pointed out what is an obvious truth to anyone who has spent more than six seconds on the Internet. Republicans love tough talk. If you are a Republican candidate who wants to make the base swoon, all that is required is some tough talk about how weak Democrats are. This tough talk is not only essential to the Republican identity, but can also lead to wars of choice like Iraq, when the tough talkers try to translate their egos into real life policy.
The reality is that the conservative mind is one that is riddled with paranoia and fear. Republicans fear everything. They think the government is out to get them. They live in a perpetual state of paranoia, because they think Barack Obama is really after their liberties and freedoms. Republicans are afraid of the future, which is why they cling so tightly to the past. The Republican fear of change is why the good old days were always better.
Usually, the Republicans who scream the loudest are also the biggest cowards. Republican bullies are always projecting their own fear on to others. They’re afraid, so they want to scare you too. They hurl insults because they are afraid. The tough guy image is what they wish they were, not who they really are.
Toughness isn’t about starting a war. It’s about ending it. It doesn’t take any toughness to cut off food stamps and unemployment benefits. These are the actions of bullies who are preying on the vulnerable. Real toughness is deciding to take a 50/50 chance on getting Osama Bin Laden. Real toughness is passing a healthcare reform bill, and still believing in it even when the criticism is flying.
Many Republicans pretend to be tough, but like Chris Christie they hide and blame others in a time of crisis. Bill Maher didn’t just call out Republican bullies. He kicked sand in their faces, and exposed them as the frauds that they really are.
Mr. Easley is the founder/managing editor and Senior White House and Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA.Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association