Emasculation proclamation

By STEVEN STARK  |  April 30, 2008

Which brings us back to Obama. It’s true that American culture and politics are changing, and that Obama may be the harbinger of not only a biracial but a “feminizing” trend, brought on by the huge gender shifts in American life. Still, that feminizing of our politics is likely to be welcomed far more by the young than the old, which helps explain, again, why Obama appeals so much less to elderly voters than to the young.

So doubts about a candidate’s masculinity would spell trouble regardless of the opponent. But it’s especially problematic when, well, it's a woman who’s pointing out what a wimp you’ve become. There is a well-accepted role in American life for the “tomboy” — a role, say, inhabited in pop culture by Seinfeld’s Elaine — the girl who loves hanging out in the boy’s gang. Clinton has more than willingly stepped into it.

But there isn’t a comparable role in our culture for the boy who hangs out with the girls and possesses “feminine” values, or at least one who wants to do that and be the leader of all the guys in the free world, too. Obama hasn’t goofily tried to ride a tank, thank goodness. But every day now, Clinton is on the stump, pointing out that, in metaphorical terms, Obama’s 37 wasn’t just a bad bowling score — it was a character flaw that should preclude him from becoming president. This Clinton strategy poses a question: yes, boys will be boys, but when they’re not 100 percent all-boy, can they still be elected president?

ODDS
REPUBLICANS
JOHN MCCAIN

The nominee

DEMOCRATS
BARACK OBAMA

Odds: 1-5 | past week: same
HILLARY CLINTON
Odds: 5-1 | same

DELEGATE COUNT
BARACK OBAMA

Pledged: 1489
Superdelegates: 240
Total: 1729
Short by: 295

HILLARY CLINTON
Pledged:
1333
Superdelegates: 261
Total: 1594
Short by: 430

Delegates needed to win: 2024
SOURCE: REAL CLEAR POLITICS AS OF 4/29/08

On the Web
The Presidential Tote Board blog: http://www.thephoenix.com/toteboard

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