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Jewish World Review Nov. 11, 2003 / 16 Mar-Cheshvan, 5764

James Lileks

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Can a fellow win with the Confederate Metrosexual vote? | Campaigns are embarrassing to every candidate. Everyone says something blisteringly stupid at some point. You spend all day talking, and your mouth is moving while your brain is off wondering when you might flee this damp, hot hall and find the restroom.

President Bush won't have this problem. He isn't trying to fight his way out of a pack; he doesn't have a glib nervy guy from his own party knocking him. It's scripted appearances from here on, with a dull debate at the end. No more misspeakerating.

The Democrats are another story. They have to say something, all the time, and they have to stand out.

Dennis Kucinich stands out by being just plain weird; any day you expect him to announce he will institute a Department of Aromatherapy, or put the entire military on a vegan diet. John Kerry is sonorous and dull, and his lemon-sucking persona doesn't make you hang on every word.

Howard Dean, however, is fun. He's like Tigger. Always bouncing. Always something to say. And that's the problem.

Perhaps the biggest news Dean made in recent weeks wasn't for a Bold Policy Initiative, but his declaration that he is a metrosexual.

It's a trendy term, already long dead in the hipster circles that produced it. A metrosexual is a straight guy who moisturizes and accessorizes.

You can imagine his brain's reaction when his mouth let that one go: I step away for six seconds and you lose the entire NASCAR dad vote.

So he backpedaled, confessed he is actually a square. No big deal, but revealing nonetheless:

1. What would Bush have said if anyone asked if he was a metrosexual? You might have gotten a blank look, which would totally lose him that Upper West Side vote he's been assiduously courting. If you caught him in a chipper mood, he might simply have said, "Ask Laura." The Bush-As-Tart-Quipster whom some conservatives long to hear might have said, "You've seen my ranch. I'm more of a ruralsexual." But the issue probably wouldn't have come up at all; we are a nation at war and it would be a silly, frilly thing to waste time upon. Right?

2. More interesting was Dean's comment that he wanted to bring back to the Democratic Party all those Southern men who have Confederate flags in their pickup trucks. Hoo-boy. If Bush said that, the editorial cartoonists would have him in white sheets and pointy hats for the rest of his term.

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But Dean has hit on something. Why don't those guys want to vote for Dems?

Well: If you're going to cater to the pickup demographic, it doesn't help to run guys like Al Gore, who wished he could go back in time and throttle the inventor of the internal combustion engine in his crib. It doesn't help when the ACLU gets its undies in a bundle every time someone recites the Ten Commandments on the same block as a courthouse. It doesn't help when some people appear to regard the gay-unfriendly Boy Scouts as a greater threat to Western Civ than al-Qaida.

To many swing voters, that's the baggage the Dems carry right now. Wobbly on foreign policy, dependably pro-government benefits for anyone who can show up and sign a form with an X, pro-religion if the church supports abortion and euthanasia. In other words: liberals!

Unfair? Broad? Crude? Sure. But not entirely inaccurate. Just as the Republicans gradually purged the Buchananite strain after Pickaxe Pat's spittle-flecked speech at the '92 convention, so must the Dems cast off their angry fringe. When it comes to the swing voters, you have two groups: Social Moderates Who Don't Want Their Daughters to Wear Burqas for Bush, and Dixie Pedicure Enthusiasts for Dean.

Can a fellow win with the Confederate Metrosexual vote? Time will tell.

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JWR contributor James Lileks is a columnist for the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Comment by clicking here.


10/22/03: Let's make Greenpeace pay
09/29/03: Ah-nold & Clark may be on different sides of the aisles, but their supporters are cut from the same cloth
09/19/03: All Hail the Ninth Circuit Court of Surreal
08/26/03: This time, the record industry doesn't stand a chance!
08/18/03: Assessing the Schwarzenegger Factor in Republicanism
08/08/03: No wonder Howard ‘Two Covers’ Dean gets all the buzz
08/04/03: Expect bad news for the foreseeable future
07/28/03: Despot's Deserts
07/21/03: No winners in this game of gotcha
07/14/03: Doing the right thing in Liberia may not be the right thing to do
06/27/03: On feet in Democratic mouths
06/16/03: The real story behind Hillary's book
06/09/03:America's new mission was and remains: Extirpating the flaming nutballs and the societies that nurture them
06/03/03: The Constitution as gag order
05/23/03: Sometimes the theme of world events is chaos itself
05/16/03: Newspapers are only human, after all
05/13/03: What McCarthy messed up
05/06/03: Still think the International Criminal Court was a good idea?
04/03/03: The world is ending, the world is ending! Doesn't anybody care!? Why won't anybody listen!?
03/14/03: Kerry and the Dems are banking on American electorate's tendancy to forget history
02/28/03: Roadmap to peace?
02/13/03: We live in an age where the poet has been cast out from the halls of power --- sob, sob
02/10/03: Found: League for International Justice and Peace talking points
01/30/03: The US can go to war whenever it likes for its own reasons, and all the UN can do is pass more worthless paper
01/23/03: People who'd volunteer for the Iraqi army if they saw Saddam wearing a "Free Mumia" button
01/16/03: One of those head vs. heart things
12/27/02: Whistleblowers?
01/06/02: The second year of this jangled millennium
11/16/01: Attack of the 'Patriotism police' and other Hollywood fare
11/12/01: From the bleats of dismay
10/30/01: Osama and the Genie
10/08/01: "We can stop the Bush Death Juggernaut"
11/04/01: America, loathe or it leave it
09/25/01: Do the Europeans actually think that the war on murderous zealotry will be furthered by undercutting America?
08/27/01: If the economy is in a funk, why aren't we dancing?
08/14/01: Dubyah's embarrassing presidential vacation
08/10/01: Hail to our co-chiefs?
08/03/01: Constitution: George the Uniter picked a doozy to unify detractors
07/25/01: The real reason why we need missile defense (What those uppity policy wonks won't tell you!)
06/18/01: Paining the egalitarian soul
06/01/01: One of the stranger indexes you'll ever hear about
05/21/01: One man's toke is another man's snort
05/08/01: Republicans want poisoned water
04/23/01: We bleat as we're sheared
04/10/01: Boys will be boys. And that's the problem
04/06/01: Pity the anti-American Left, they're gonna have a hard time on this one
03/26/01: You've been warned
03/16/01: The GOP's inexplicable desire to fold
02/23/01: Will the Jeb Bush administration attack Saddam in 2011?
02/09/01: In search of the the first ashtray thrown by a member of the First Family
02/06/01: Can you say 'Ayatollah Bush'?
01/24/01: The new Executive Orders
01/22/01: Hey, Dubya: Wanna save Ashcroft? Teach him to rap!
01/09/01: Bubba gets his last licks
01/05/01: The low-down on the coming recession (What those snooty economists won't tell you)
12/23/00: Memo to Dubya: Wanna show who is boss? Nuke 'em!
12/06/00: The Count of Carthage
At the Sore/Loserman Transition HQ
12/01/00: The Count of Carthage
11/28/00: Clinton knows history isn't written by the victors anymore
11/17/00: Chad's the word
11/08/00: The strangest political night
11/07/00: Get ready to return to the Dark Ages

© 2003, James Lileks