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The Masculine Mystique of Republicans: Charles Blow on Gov. Chris Christie

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Duluth, Minnesota (OpEdNews) February 1, 2014: Are we Americans in the midst of another culture war featuring the Republicans' war on women versus the Democrats' war on men?

Hey, the feminists in the women's movement of the 1960s and 1970s (also known as second-wave feminism) was famous for their anti-male spirit. But has their anti-male spirit become the official party-line of the Democratic Party today as it carries on its war on men? Maybe it has.

Charles Blow, an African American columnist at the New York Times, suggests that it has in his op-ed column titled "The Masculine Mistake" (dated Jan. 31, 2014). However, he makes no reference to the women's movement of the 1960s and 1970s. Instead, he refers only to events since 1992.

Charles Blow was prompted to write his piece because of the controversy swirling around Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, a Republican who is described as a tough-talking guy's guy and who is considered to be a leading contender for the Republican Party's presidential nomination in 2016. The controversy swirling around Gov. Christie involves the closing of certain access lanes to the George Washington Bridge, which of course created a massive traffic jam each day that the lanes were closed.

The George Washington Bridge connects a certain part of the State of New Jersey with a certain part of the State of New York. In that certain part of the State of New York, there happens to be a large metropolitan area, which just happens to include the media center in the United States, including of course the New York Times. Therefore, closing the access lanes to the GeorgeWashingtonBridge was guaranteed to get media attention.

When it came to light that Gov. Christie's staff had initiated the lane closings as political payback, the media were all over the story. Then Gov. Christie held a two-hour press conference in which he claimed that he didn't know about the lane closings that his staff had arranged. Echoing President Richard M. Nixon's Watergate crisis, the media have referred to Bridgegate. So what did Gov. Christie know, and when did he know it?


In any event, Charles Blow is not a Republican. Wouldn't it be great fun for Charles Blow if he could help knock Gov. Christie out of contention for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016? Of course it would be great fun.

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In the spirit of having great fun at the expense of Republicans and Gov Christie, Charles Blow includes a lengthy quotation from Brit Hume of Fox News:

"When the Chris Christie bridge scandal erupted, Brit Hume, the Fox senior political analyst, said in Christie's defense: "I would have to say that in the sort of feminized atmosphere in which we exist today, guys who are masculine and muscular like that [i.e., like Gov. Christie is] in their private conduct, kind of old-fashioned tough guys, run some risks. By which I mean that men today have learned the lesson the hard way that if you act like an old-fashioned guy's guy, you're in constant danger of slipping out and saying something that's going to get you in trouble and make you look like a sexist or make you look like you seem thuggish or whatever. That's the atmosphere in which he [Gov. Christie] operates. This guy is very much an old-fashioned masculine, muscular guy, and there are political risks associated with that. Maybe it shouldn't be, but that's how it is'"

I agree with Brit Hume that "that's how it is" today. However, Brit Hume to the contrary notwithstanding, I'm not sure that all Republican "men today have learned the lesson the hard way that if you act like an old-fashioned guy's guy, you're in constant danger of slipping out and saying something that's going to get you in trouble and make you look like a sexist or make you seem thuggish or whatever."

Case in point: After President Obama's State of the Union address, Rep. Michael Grimm, Republican from Staten Island, a former Marine, threatened to throw a television reporter off the balcony -- with the television camera recording his threat. He had a few other choice things to say to the reporter -- all recorded by the television camera.

Fortunately, not even Republicans defended Rep. Grimm's threat. So maybe this shows that there may be a wee bit of hope for the Republicans after all.

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But back to Brit Hume and Charles Blow.

In the spirit of having great fun at the expense of Republicans and Gov. Christie, Charles Blow points out that Brit Hume's comments about Gov. Christie being a guy's guy fit with the more general pattern of "[p]ortraying Republican men as manly and Democratic ones as effete."

But what does it mean to be manly? And do Republicans somehow have a monopoly on saying what counts as manly, and what doesn't?

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Thomas James Farrell is professor emeritus of writing studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD). He started teaching at UMD in Fall 1987, and he retired from UMD at the end of May 2009. He was born in 1944. He holds three degrees from Saint Louis University (SLU): B.A. in English, 1966; M.A.(T) in English 1968; higher education, 1974. On May 16, 1969, the editors of the SLU student newspaper named him Man of the Year, an honor customarily conferred on an administrator or a faculty member, not on a graduate student -- nor on a woman up to that time. He is the proud author of the book (more...)

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