Reader K.H. comments insightfully on my post this screed by Nirpal Dhaliwal, husband of best-selling chick-litter Liz Jones on liberated women’s sneaking distaste for the androgynous, feelings-oriented men they often claim to yearn for (see “The Last Thing Women Want: A Sensitive “New Man,” Aug. 4):

While I largely agree with your commentary regarding how few women actually desire a ‘gentle, sensitive new man’ I have to say that I found the author of the column, Nirpal Dhaliwal, repulsive. He sounds very much like he is acting ‘all macho’ to compensate for the fact that his wife is more accomplished and successful than he is. I found his boastfulness about his straying disgusting and it reeks of his merely paying lip service to being truly sorry he caused his wife pain.

In the article he boasts that his wife would miss him so much in bed that it really matters not that he cheated! Maybe that is the case with the two of them, but I think better examples of men who are not sensitivly deneutered new men (ick! the term ‘new man’ sounds like a euphamism for a eunuch) than the repulsive ‘man’ (and really, how does he claim to have earned that moniker? Oh, yeah, by cheating on his wife and being rude to her!) that you linked to.

Please do not mistake my revulsion at Mr. Dhaliwal for disagreement about your comments on new men and their desirability. I wonder if there are so few men around in the public eye that the cads actually appear to be the genuine article. I guess if I had to name a real man in the public eye without thinking about it too long I’d say Donald Rumsfeld.

You know, K.H.–I agree with you. No sooner had I put up that post than I started thinking: Hmmm, I sure can’t stand “new men” (or metrosexuals or whatever they’re calling themselves these days). But if the alternative were Nirpal Dhaliwal, I think I’d have to become a nun. While Dhaliwal correctly observes that real women want guys who will take charge–I think I read long ago that the reason Nora Ephron couldn’t stand her first husband was that he was no good at hailing taxis–they do prefer guys who sound a tad more apologetic if they’re unfaithful and a tad less boastful about their sexual prowess.

Hmm, Donald Rumsfield, eh? I rather like that choice of yours, K.H.

Now for T.S., commenting on Robert Samuelson’s excellent syndicated column pointing out that welfare reform–contrary to the dire predictions of the liberal establishment–has actually been a success story (see “Welfare Reform–Lessons from an Overhaul That Worked,” Aug. 3):

Just as you point out, ‘[T]here’s a lesson to be learned from welfare reform about fixing other broken parts of a vast government entitlement system that we simply can no longer afford: ‘One is the need to overcome a bias against change. We underestimate people’s ability to adapt. In 1995 one think tank forecast that the welfare bill would throw 1 million more children into poverty. If Congress had listened, little would have happened. Today we could gradually raise Social Security and Medicare eligibility ages without causing a social catastrophe.’

Another lesson is the virtue of candor. Welfare’s flaws were openly acknowledged. If we aren’t more honest about other problems, they will simply get worse (as they already have).

The same is true of the child support division of government. Studies show that charging interest and fines, backdating, and default orders are forcing low-income non-custodial parents into hiding and out of their children’s lives. There is very little accountability to the ‘system’ while parents go broke and often homeless. The best interest of the child is to have two fully functioning, actively engaged parents, not one parent and a child support check. One part of the government is on a campaign to engage absent parents, usually fathers, while the other part is pushing them away. It’s time to tear the system down and start over. Child support includes emotional and physical care.

I agree–and there’s one form of “shared parenting” that works like a charm. It’s called getting married and staying married. It’s called waiting until marriage to have children, and then sticking together while you raise those children, except in extreme cases of abuse of people and/or substances (at which point, it makes sense for the offending spouse to be extremely “absent”).

Marriage–it’s worked for millennia, supplying children with all the “emotional and physical care” that they need and enabling both mother and father to be “a fully functioning and actively engaged parent.” Best of all, you never have to go to court, you never have to try to collect a support check, you never have to bicker over who sees the children when. Believe me, your kids will thank you.