The Corner

Manliness: a Rejoinder

I’ll let my correspondent have the last word: “Ramesh, I think you’re missing my point. I am not at all saying that it is illegitimate to discuss how perceptions of candidates’ personal qualities including their masculinity affect the way voters feel about them. I think it is legitimate to criticize candidates based on such qualities. It depends on the way it’s done. That Edwards is boyish, light as air, unserious, is a legitimate target. For example, when he said in his acceptance speech, addressing the terrorists, ‘We will destroy you,’ that was the biggest moment of faux toughness I’ve ever seen in politics. It was laughable.

“This is not the nature of the Rhoads article at NRO that I was criticizing. This was a low-level, adolescent, insulting attack of a kind I have never seen at NR. ‘Not manly enough.’ Failing the ‘testosterone test’? Not having a ‘deep’ enough voice, and therefore lacking ‘manly strength’? This is stupid and childish. Does Bush have a deep voice? Are all men with high voices unmanly? Are all tenors to be expelled from politics? Lincoln had a high pitched voice according to all reports.”

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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