Very rarely does an excellent article begin with a too-detailed description of an old man’s legs. But Tim Alberta, author of a hagiographic piece on former Speaker of the House John Boehner, is a man who plays by his own rules. “The veins are still dancing in his muscular, leathery legs as the blade retreats from the ball.” Golf and a vision of John Boehner’s thighs, all in the first paragraph. Dancing veins, no less! Thank goodness, I only had soup today.
Alberta goes on to tell us that “[t]o play golf with John Boehner is to learn there are unwritten rules governing the use of the word Boner.” Of course, why wouldn’t there be? If I were an editor for Politico, that’s one of the first questions I would ask. Okay, Tim, I need to know how it’s coming along on the Pelosi fundraising piece, where we’re at with your secret connect in Paul Ryan’s office for his take on tax reform, and I need to know whether John Boehner has hardline rules on when you can mispronounce his name so it sounds like he’s a human erection.
Journalism has got to be hard-hitting, you know
There’s a bizarre, unspoken sexual obsession that peaks out now and again from the political burrows where the id of the prurient-minded press is hidden. It’s as though the media is made of Ba’al-worshipping Canaanites, in thrall to some deific carnality. Maybe I’m making too much of it. Or maybe not. To quote my Muscovite step-brother Danil, “you Americans are obsessed with the phallus. The Washington monument, a penis. The Empire State Building, a penis. All of Manhattan; all penises stretching into the sky. You won’t be happy until the whole world knows you can keep an erection.” I used to think Danil was crazy. Maybe he is. (He’s a smart Russian; of course, he is crazy. But not crazy enough that he’s wrong.)
Truth is, the media gets real weird when it comes to politicians and their … physicality.
Who can forget the highlights of the last few elections? There was Chris Matthews’ tingly response to Barack Obama’s performance in the 2008 Democratic Party primaries—“I felt this thrill going up my leg.” I’ll give Matthews the benefit of the doubt and assume that this bit of overkill was just a part of his Obama-friendly hyperbole (he said of Obama’s political ascendancy, “[t]his is the New Testament”). Still, what exactly compels Matthews to think of a “thrill going up [his] leg.” Moreover, what compels him to say it out loud?
Then there was Kevin Williamson’s theory about Mitt Romney’s evolutionarily-developed sex appeal—the genetic allure of a well-heeled, plutocratic potential mate: “From an evolutionary point of view, Mitt Romney should get 100 percent of the female vote. All of it. He should get Michelle Obama’s vote.” Hmm. I see. Maybe. But, on the other hand, who cares, why write about it, and why the hell would the average reader give a damn about Romney’s sexual/genetic appeal?
The oddest thing about the Matthews and Williamson blunders was that Williamson’s seemed to be a reaction to Matthews’, or to the larger trend of the left sexualizing its leaders—their reveling in Obama’s “chiseled pectorals,” calling his success akin to that of Tiger Woods (a comparison that likely went no further than imagining who is the other black guy raised white?), and, the stereotypical coquettish shower fantasies of Judith Warner. Warner’s case reminded me of a peculiarity of politics that’s always plagued the left: they cannot take their own leaders seriously enough to assume that they’re not objects, but instead politicians and thinkers, an unfortunate side-effect of tokenization.
Williamson was reacting to all this, maybe? Williamson, I suppose, wanted to show that the right could be as frivolous and objectifying as the left. Well done, sir. We’re all idiots. Now we can go home.
Either way, it’s low-level nonsense. What it does is put national magazines, periodicals known for their intellectual seriousness, on par with Elle, with its comparison of Justin Trudeau to Hugh Grant’s character in Love, Actually. Here’s a measure I keep pressing: idiots get rules for idiots. It’s okay for Elle to print that crap because, as I said, they’re a magazine for idiots, run by idiots. (FIBI: For Idiots, By Idiots.)
National Review and the New York Times, though, are both supposed to represent a proud tradition of—well, of something more than secretly fantasizing about Obama’s nipples and Romney’s uber-seed.
And so, we come full circle, to our friend Tim Alberta’s piece on the Ohioan Thunder Thigh—John Boehner’s praise piece. I’m not sure what motivated Alberta to focus on the former representative’s femoral area, but it’s a detail that could be done without.
Politics is strange enough without Freud in the mix.
Views expressed in op-eds are not the views of The Daily Caller.