Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Trump - the "sound" of manliness and virility, with none of the substance

There are at least a dozen American political commentators I enjoy reading or listening to, but right now my two favourites are Ben Shapiro and Andrew Klavan. The first is a boyish-looking, 32-year old Harvard Law School graduate from Los Angeles, who has a razor-sharp mind, a machine gun-style delivery, and a "take no prisoners" approach to leftists. The other is Andrew Klavan, a 61-year old popular novelist and scriptwriter (he wrote True Lies, which was turned into a thoroughly enjoyable film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jamie Lee Curtis), a New Yorker who graduated from the home of student radicalism, Berkley. Shapiro has always been a conservative, while Klavan has made the journey from liberalism to conservatism.

Shapiro is very smart; Klavan is smart and, more importantly, I think, wise. Neither of them is - to put it mildly - terribly keen on Donald Trump, and both of them have recently addressed the subject of The Donald's peculiarly repellent brand of boorish, foul-mouthed, bullying, bragging, insult-flinging "manliness".

On February 3rd, Klavan used his entertaining yet thoughtful Daily Wire show to put forward the theory that while Trump's audience think that what they're getting from the man with the orange bouffant is good old-fashioned American manhood, they're not. "You're hearing the sound of manhood, you're hearing the sound of strength, you're hearing a noise that sounds like the guy who's going to do something... this is an illusion... he sounds like something that he's not."

The podcast - "Trump's no tough guy - he just plays one on TV" - can be found here. You have to pay for the video version, but you can click the "listen" tab to hear it for free. I enjoyed all of it, but the Trump "virility" theme starts at 11:35.

Klavan goes on to make the point that, in societies like those of America and Europe where males have been emasculated - by feminists or socialism or whatever, they're just replaced by worse examples of "virile" men: European women are discovering that their feminised male populations are being replaced by testosterone-charged immigrants whose behaviour is far worse than those sex-obsessed white brutes effectively castrated by the socialist/feminist axis. Klavan's theme was picked up earlier this week by Ben Shapiro on the conservative website,, in his article "When Manliness Goes Missing":
Trump... doesn't bother with the niceties. He's a big, swinging set of political testicles... He's toxic masculinity. He's not a gentleman, and he's proud of it. He's here to win, and he'll bully, threaten, and beat you until you submit. 
Normally, the masculinity gap in American politics could be filled by an upstanding man -- a man, yes, but one tied to values, a man who uses the aggressive instinct in pursuit of defending the innocent and punishing the guilty. But the feminist movement has made such men obsolete. Men were simply too dangerous; it was safer to emasculate them. Now men are expected to be betas; the only alphas left are toxic alphas willing to break every taboo and violate every standard. 
Shapiro reaches exactly the same conclusion as Klavan:
There's still a space for masculinity in American politics. But thanks to the vacuum of decent men, indecent men rise. Men like Donald Trump.
I suppose it could be summed up this way: Trump is a man - but he definitely isn't a mensch. And, boy - will America ever need one of those after eight years of Obama.


  1. I'm no fan of Trump either, but let's be fair - how many 'decent men' can Shapiro name who have ascended to the top of US politics in the past 100 years? Or ours, come to that?

    Ronald Reagan springs to mind. After that...

    1. Well, it's a bit hard to judge decency and indecency, I agree - but, whatever one thinks of their politics or their competence, I'd place FDR, Eisenhower and Gerald Ford in the "decent" column. I don't think any of them were essentially bad people. I don't know enough about Truman, Wilson, Harding or Coolidge to judge. Was George H.W. Bush and "indecent" man because he was a poor president? The same goes for his son. Was JFK "indecent" because of his satyriasis? After all, he was a saint compared to his brother, Ted, who really was an indecent man. Come to that, was Jimmy Carter - a disastrous president in every way - indecent, rather than misguided, thick and incompetent? I don't really know.

  2. It was really a question for Shapiro as it was he who used a word I'd have thought unusual in politics.

    My view is that there are no fewer decent men in this race. I'd accept Rubio or Cruz and probably even Sanders in with that group of 'decent (if flawed)' men.

    For all that I think he is an idiot, I don't think it's a lack of decency that has seen Trump rise. It is the failure of every US President since Reagan that has left the country stung and angry. Decency, to paraphrase Mae West, had nothing to do with it. They'd probably have been happy with a successful stinker.