I know, I know. This week’s target is Obama, but that will
pass. People will realize that essentially all he said was that when a person is
down, he or she reaches for what’s familiar. He didn’t exactly call someone
Macaca or lie about landing in a helicopter under gunfire. In any event,
we the voters will never let Hillary near the prize, and here’s why.
That voice. That shrieking, hectoring, lecturing,
altogether unflattering tone she uses when she’s upset, or when she senses the
upper hand and is coming in for the kill. So why should Hillary’s voice matter
so much to us? Because of what it signals.
A near-majority of young men today were raised in
single-parent homes, in which mom was both mom and dad. Many young men and boys
today have very little experience with a male authority figure exercising
reasonable and consistent authority over their lives. A man issuing a challenge,
“Why don’t you try getting up early and running some laps. You might like it,”
or a man laying down an ultimatum, “It’s either school or a job, you pick,” is
as unfamiliar to many young men as a foreign language. What is familiar to us is
the Hillary-tone, that stressed-out mamma “I am not your doormat” tone that
channels, “I’ve told you a dozen times to take out the trash.”
Men in our society have been raised to let the women in
their lives do everything, then feel guilty about it, then feel hemmed in and
stifled and complain about it. Women who speak up about it are told, “There you
go complaining again. Can’t you do more than just complain?”
And all of that is what many of us hear in Hillary’s tone. Hillary’s
scolding voice is a symbol of one of our greatest national failures: to raise a
generation of men who will take care of business. The movies we see today, the
romantic comedies written by men, are signaling to the women the terms in which
we will let them remain in our lives: Do Everything For Us. There’s the Jack
Nicolson’s As Good As it Gets character, that unbearable but a supposedly
charming curmudgeon who plants a kiss on Helen Hunt and says, “You make me want
to be a better man.” Our inner Hillary Clinton responds, “Why can’t you be a
better man without such prompting? You don’t hear me implying that unless you
pick up after me, I’ll fall apart.” Then there’s last year’s “Knocked Up,”
in which the successful up-and-coming beautiful TV anchor falls for the pothead.
How? Why? We aren’t told. We see him step up to the plate and act
responsible exactly once, and thus we are charmed. Then there’s
this week’s “Smart People,” which revives the Nicolson character, a middle-aged
grouse whose unbearable pomposity has earned him a tenured professorship at a
prestigious college, as well as a love affair with a beautiful physician who is
more than willing to take him with all his flaws.
That Hillary-voice, that hectoring tone, is the reality
check. It’s what men honestly get when they act like those characters in those
movies. It’s the reminder that you can’t treat someone like a doormat for half a
lifetime and expect a charm school queen as a result. Why is it, in interviews,
that Hillary always seem to cut people off? Because she’s so used to hearing
Bill say, “But honey…” at which point, Hillary jumps in “Don’t ‘but honey’ me.
You have to grow up.” Yes, she sounds perpetually angry,
ill-tempered, and what’s that word Obama used recently? Oh yeah.