Is the real problem with Dean’s scream that it was unmanly? The Village Voice thinks so:
Real men have beef, and when they raise their voices, they holler or bellow. Only women—and Howard Dean—scream.
Could it be that Kerry’s motorcycle stunt and leather jacket did the trick?
People don’t vote on the basis of gender expectations alone, but the butch factor plays a much larger part in our politics than is usually acknowledged. In the age of Rummy, not to mention the Gropinator, there’s no such thing as too much machismo in a pol. So who can blame the Democrats for manning up? For years now, their leaders have been tarred with the wuss brush very effectively by Republicans. If overcoming that liability means channeling the ghost of Evel Knievel, I say bring it on. But why does that seem presidential? Could Franklin Roosevelt compete today with a hunk on a Harley?
Call it a response to 9-11, a reaction to feminism, or show business taking over the world. But the kitsch of masculinity—the studwear, the Clint Eastwood stare, the programmed finger-stabbing dare—has enormous credibility now. We are trusting our very lives to the man who makes the best action figure. That’s a lot scarier than Howard Dean at his screamiest.
UPDATE: Jeanne points us to this story on the feminization of politics.