It bothers me that our media has decided that Edwards can be dismissed as too "feminine"–i.e., gay.
Ann Coulter impoliticly said flat out what the gist of the Republican message is when it comes to Edwards – "Fag." Of course there was a lot of sound and fury at the time, but I think that the focus of Edwards coverage of late shows that conservatives and their myriad allies didn't really disapprove of those comments; at least they didn't care about them enough to stop propagating the "Edwards is a flamer" line.
Bush decisively demonstrates that masculinity isn't a useful criteria for Presidential effectiveness. Nothing beats flying a fighter jet onto an aircraft carrier when it comes to establishing he-man-warrior credentials. It's that same sort of fantasy of strength and virility, coupled with a desire to avoid "humiliation" or signs of "weakness" that's led to the erosion of civil liberties, mass death in Iraq, etcetera.
The GOP in the primaries is advancing the concept of the "strong leader" types. They're pushing yet another actor, Fred Thompson, this time. Thompson joined the cast of Law and Order while he was still in the Senate. He's extraordinarily good at portraying authority. In fact he's made his career playing authoritarians on television and in movies, and, above all, what conservatives want is someone who can play that role convincingly. They want their leaders to project aggressive power because the power reflects back on them. It makes them feel powerful.
Giuliani is another competitor in the casting call for Daddy-in-Chief. He stood up to the terrorists, and of course we've all heard that story. It's tremendously appealing. But people seem to forget how unpopular Giuliani was just before the 9/11 attacks. His family problems are clearly at odds with the moral authority being assigned to him, and there is actual video of Giuliani performing in drag and being kissed on the fake breast by Donald Trump. Now, I don't think that's problematic (although it's hardly dignified), but if conservatives were being honest with themselves, they would give it at least the same amount of coverage that Edwards' supposed visit to the "Pink Sapphire" is currently garnering.
Giuliani is in favor of gay rights (he lived with a gay couple for some time) and abortion rights, and yet he's still the front-runner in all the polls. The reason that this is all excused in Giuliani where it wouldn't be excused in someone else is that conservatives think maybe Giuliani has the strongest narrative; maybe he can play that authority figure better than the others. As long as Giuliani can win, and as long as he pledges some allegiance to the tribe, then that's all fine. But there's good reason to think that Giuliani is willing to say and do whatever is convenient to gain power. And that once he gains it he relishes its use.
Of course I'm not saying that Democrats don't pander or pursue emotional, irrational politics (witness the Terry Schiavo debacle), but at this point I think it's clear that government power needs to be taken away from the people who have been playing at government like some kind of swords and sorcery RPG.
When it's real swords (and guns and bombs), it is also real blood and real suffering. That's something that the GOP never really understood, and even now they'd like to continue their fantasy of actions without consequences (the most recent consequence the 170 men, women, and children who just today were blown away). They can continue to promise 'victory' while casting themselves in the part of the misunderstood visionaries (just like Winston Churchill, another popular conservative storyline).
So I don't care about Edward's hair, or Obama's parking tickets, or Hillary's 'frigidness' or any of these other irrelevancies. In the last two elections, the mainstream media has done us a disservice by focusing on Republican lines of attack. With Gore, it was the invention of the Internet and a kiss with Tipper that was a little too long. With Kerry, it was 'he speaks French' and windsurfs. But none of that stuff matters, and people are catching on that they've been duped. And they're angry, they are really annoyed. Even here in the middle of Kansas, where I live, the overwhelming feeling is anger at Bush and his band of his incompetents.