Monday, September 13, 2010 at 9 a.m.
Allen West is doing his very best to make manliness an issue in the campaign for the 22nd Congressional District. He recently challenged his opponent, Rep. Ron Klein, to "man up" and to talk "how men talk."
In a video I've posted after the jump, from last March, West bemoans the rise of what he calls "girly men" into leadership positions in America, leading him to ask, "What happened to our country?"
That last one is a question we're all asking. So let's try to figure out what West means when he calls for more manliness in American politics.
Judging by that video, West believes that it's important for a manly leader to avoid feminist literature at all costs, lest that leader turn into a "chicken man" or a "girly man."
He adds, "I don't want to live in a country where the women are doing the fighting for me, OK?" Then by way of explanation, West declares, "I'm part Spartan," a favorite campaign theme. Of course, the Spartan men waged war while the Spartan women raised the children, and that society was defined by its difference with the one in Athens, where democracy, debate, and diplomacy were believed to be more highly evolved pursuits than war.
The Palm Beach Post asked West to respond to Klein's remarks that West's use of taunts and violent metaphors was out of line. He said:
"You can call it trash talking; you can call it whatever you want. Patton was a tough guy. MacArthur was a tough guy. William Tecumseh Sherman was a tough guy. America has a history of, when there are tough times, they look for tough leaders to take them out of those tough times and tough situations."
Three American generals whose solution to political problems was, like the Spartans, to wage war.
But the U.S. is already waging war -- and for most of the past nine years that have seen America in decline, it's been waging two wars. West hasn't offered many clues about who the U.S. should invade next and how that might improve American lives.
Offering that explanation wouldn't be very manly. Without more specifics from West, we can only guess, but maybe he's referring to a stereotypically male reflex: to respond to wounded pride by an impulsive act of violence.