Trump tweeting at 11pm last night probably got around to reading Tom Nichols’s article in The Atlantic and will probably wake up trying to figure out how to take tenure away from him.
More importantly Nichols reminds the reader that the attraction of white, non-college educated men for Trump is complex and conflicted. Is it the Beaver’s friendship with Eddie Haskell, or perhaps what the white working class thinks a “fop” might be, considering all that Playboy and Russian oligarch gangsterism.
Is Trump a man your father and grandfather would have respected?
The question is not whether Trump fails to meet some archaic or idealized version of masculinity. The president’s inability to measure up to Marcus Aurelius or Omar Bradley is not the issue. Rather, the question is why so many of Trump’s working-class white male voters refuse to hold Trump to their own standards of masculinity—why they support a man who behaves more like a little boy.
I freely accept that I do not pass muster by the standards of most Trump supporters. Again, what intrigues me is that neither should Trump. As the writer Windsor Mann has noted, Trump behaves in ways that many working-class men would ridicule: “He wears bronzer, loves gold and gossip, is obsessed with his physical appearance, whines constantly, can’t control his emotions, watches daytime television, enjoys parades and interior decorating, and used to sell perfume.”
Is Trump honorable? This is a man who routinely refused to pay working people their due wages, and then lawyered them into the ground when they objected to being exploited. Trump is a rich downtown bully, the sort most working men usually hate.
Is Trump courageous? Courtiers like Victor Davis Hanson have compared Trump to the great heroes of the past, including George Patton, Ajax, and the Western gunslingers of the American cinema. Trump himself has mused about how he would have been a good general. He even fantasized about how he would have charged into the middle of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, without a weapon.
But even if we excuse Trump for the occasional hyperbole, the fact of the matter is that Trump is an obvious coward. He has two particular phobias: powerful men and intelligent women.
Donald Trump is unmanly because he has never chosen to become a man. He has weathered few trials that create an adult of any kind. He is, instead, working-class America’s dysfunctional son, and his supporters, male and female alike, have become the worried parent explaining what a good boy he is to terrorized teachers even while he continues to set fires in the hallway right outside.
Whoa. When did Hannity become a beta cuck?#eyeroll
— Steve Singiser (@stevesingiser) May 27, 2020
100,000 dead Americans. One wrong president. pic.twitter.com/NTH4cT0Xum
— The Lincoln Project (@ProjectLincoln) May 27, 2020