"There was one description of the president that truly seized me:
'The metrosexual black Abe Lincoln has emerged as a hyper-partisan, hyper-liberal, elitist politician with more than a bit of the trimmer in him.'
This sentence is just so deliciously ridiculous, insulting and incendiary — perfect Republican fodder.
Let’s dissect it, shall we? Scalpel!
First, there is the word metrosexual. It is usually defined as a man keenly interested in grooming and preening. Despite the sexual root, the term isn’t rooted in sexuality. In its truest sense, President Obama of mom jeans infamy — as he told the 'Today Show' in 2009, 'I’m a little frumpy' — is far less metrosexual than Mitt Romney of the perfect hair, copper tan and Gap skinny jeans.
But this term is rarely appropriately applied. On the contrary, it’s often delivered with a snicker to question sexuality and feminize the subject, and femininity in a misogynistic culture is the greatest of sins. Metrosexual has become a roundabout homophobic taunt."
- Charles Blow, "Dirty Racial Politics" in today's New York Times.
I give Blow credit for identifying a "misogynistic culture" that makes feminization of men an insult; I'm a little more perplexed that Blow seems to suggest that this insult is, well, really insulting. If we're trying to end a misogynistic culture, rather than just admit its existence (powerlessness... there's another good issue to discuss), then it doesn't help to just identify emasculation and then complain about it. That, it strikes me, is just giving the tactic all the more credence. Making a man seem woman-like wouldn't be an insult if we stopped treating being a woman as insulting.
"Metrosexual" is a dopey word and its use in the Ricketts material was, obviously, telling; in the context of that extreme sentence, a volume of assumptions and dislikes of the President certainly were made clear, and who wouldn't expect an Obama cheerleader like Blow (who later admits that Obama is a "moderate left centrist" who can anger "devout liberals", as if liberal ideas were religious dogma) to defend him? Blow is meant to represent a fresher, younger approach to opinion writing, and it's things like identifying anti-woman biases that add to that formulation; but Blow is, in most ways, more of the same on the NYT Op Eds - a supportive Democrat who wants the simplicity of two party distinctions and shows his contrariness by blaming Lefties who Go Too Far.
In general, I never really finish Blow's pieces - his hook is to accompany his pieces with some element of recent survey data, data that invariably shows him to be absolutely riight about his conclusions, which in turn our usually that some Democratic friendly idea, proposal, or candidate is good or right (or both). His opening paragraphs are lively enough (that "scalpel!" reference, however trite, is bracing), but he devolves into boilerplate and statsical citings pretty quickly, and it's prety much downhill from there.
I'd be more impressed if Blow was braver, if his opinion on a particular subject wasn't so obviously telegraphed by whatever graph accompanies his column, or at least if he'd question the whole reliance on poll driven opinionating a lot more than he does. Being more adventurous - which he seems readily capable of - would lift his op-ed writing out of the ordinary, and beyond partisan boilerplate. Or is it too girly of me to point that out?