Does the triumph in Iowa and New Hampshire of jut-jawed, Harley-riding, hockey hocking, pheasant-murdering, and presumably “electable” John Kerry signal a “retreat from the feminization of politics”? I’d say: Peut-etre (as Kerry himself might put it). George F. Will says: Yes.

In today’s must-read column on “The Politics of Manliness,” Will admits that Kerry has embraced the “confessional ethos” of today but sees his march forward as evidence of the Democrats’ recognition that manly seriousness will be required if they are to beat George Bush in November. Kerry’s emphasis on his career as a prosecutor who’s put people away for life is a facet of the politics of manliness.

If the politics of manliness is, indeed, back, it’s bad news for the likes of Marian Wright Edelman of the kiddies-need-big-government lobby. Will quotes Carnes Lord of the Naval War College saying feminized politics justifies bad policies by claiming they’re good for children.

What about John Edwards? Is he a guy’s guy? Will answers this riddle by citing the literary lineage of this umble son of a mill worker whose campaign theme song is “Small Town,” by John Mellancamp? (“All my friends are so small town'”). Edwards is a modern Uriah Heap.

Will suggests that the trial lawyer with a double digit millions net worth might want to pay royalties to Charles Dickens: “The umblest persons, Master Coperfield, may be the instruments of good’. I have risen from my umble station since first you used to address me, it is true; but I am umble still.”

Let’s hope this Uriah Heap doesn’t become a mountain.