Feminist author (“The Beauty Myth”) and Gore sartorial adviser Naomi Wolf, has a piece in England’s left-wing Guardian newspaper that defies caricature. It also raises an important question about Ms. Wolf: What planet does this woman live on?
Here are some highlights:
“In the US comic strip, Peanuts, there is a little boy who is always followed by a cloud of dust. Wherever he goes, his cloud follows him. George Bush can’t shake his personal cloud. The until recently eerily untouchable president has now lost his mojo. The man to whom the entire US press corps has been on its knees for four years is finally in the doghouse….
“After 9/11, Bush, Cheney and Karl Rove successfully used the fear of more terrorist attacks and the intoxicant of ruthless jingoism to sedate the country and make it compliant.
“They could not have had more fortunate timing. During an era when US prestige abroad had already been declining, when US schools were turning out subliterates, when the US economy was being crippled by competition from harder-working south-east Asians and Chinese, Americans – and especially American men – were feeling the sinking self-regard characteristic of those losing prestige in once-great empires in decline.
“Bush, Cheney and Rove changed all that with their myth making post-9/11. Suddenly those feminists were no longer so threatening: we still needed tough men in firefighter suits to protect the less powerful. Suddenly American men could feel potent at the sight of a statue of a tyrant toppling in a public square, could vicariously inhale the discourse about ‘liberating the Middle East’ and ‘spreading democracy’, could put a yellow ‘Support the Troops’ sticker on their SUVs and forget the spiking mortgage, the downsizing of good-paying white-collar jobs, the increasing obstreperousness of their women. Bush managed to be golden for so long because he made Americans – and especially white American men, his core constituency – feel good about their identity again.”
“But will this shift in the wind affect US relations with the larger world community? I think it could, but not, again, because our role at the UN will change or because we will have an awakening about our pathetic behaviour in relation to Kyoto. The shift in foreign relations will be an outcome of ordinary human shame. We were willing to be held in contempt by those effeminate Frogs – by ‘old Europe’ – when we were intoxicated with ourselves: our isolationism made that easy. But now we are actually ashamed of ourselves at home, we can’t bear international contempt in the same way. Now it hurts.”
Blogger Brad Lips dissects the piece, including Wolf’s delusion that the press was ever pro-Bush. He zeroes in on the left’s glee over Hurricane Katrina:
“Katrina was certainly a tragedy that exhibited the limits of humans in general, and government agencies in particular, to prepare for and respond to the worst that Mother Nature can unleash. But does anyone else find it unseemly how Wolf (and others in the media) take such pleasure in the blowing up sad details, so they amplify a storyline they wish to believe? If there’s anything cartoonish in the above paragraph, it’s in Wolf’s understanding of America. Who among us participated in the ‘collective fantasy of goodness and infallibility’ that was ripped apart? (Another aside: I continue to be amused by talk of a ‘cabal’ led by the highest ranking officers in the executive branch.)
Lips’ take-down of Wolf is well worth reading in its entirety.