Saturday, July 28, 2007

Leering old men

-- by Dave

Digby thinks the conservative movement, as its world crumbles about it in a crashing heap of bodies, is reverting to infantilism, becoming the Baby Party. But I beg to differ (a novelty, when it comes to Digby): I think it has a lot more to do with their creeping old age.

The current fetish with all things manly, masculine, and otherwise male is, like all right-wing talk, mostly meant to act as a cover for their private fears and inadequacies. These guys -- guys like Bill O'Reilly, and Glenn Beck, and Lou Dobbs, and Pat Buchanan, Rush Limbaugh -- like to talk a lot about manly stuff because for them, manliness is mostly about image. What they know about masculinity they got from John Wayne movies.

Besides, projecting maculinity onto their political beliefs is a convenient way of tossing out the more rational components of politics, and it makes a nice bellicose cover for their own fading personal virility. The 2006 election left many of them feeling demasculated, which is why the thought of Hillary Clinton -- whose popular image with the O'Reilly crowd is that of the classic ball-busting bitch -- winning the presidency sends them into a particularly nasty frenzy where anything will do as a target. Including, of course, Daily Kos.

These guys like to think of themselves as part of the Greatest Generation, but really, this is the Viagra Generation: growing more impotent each day and feeling like they can't really do anything about it. Naturally, they strike out in anger at perceived slights and threats -- thus the current O'Reilly attack on the left blogosphere.

The infantilism about all things sexual is all about trying to pretend that they're still virile and manly and all those kinds of things -- though all they really reveal is the confusion about their own sexual identities. I mean, did anyone read O'Reilly's thriller? Eeewwwww.

It comes out at odd moments, too. The P-I's D. Parvaz noted last week that O'Reilly's questioning of the Miss New Jersey who was blackmailed over some old MySpace photos had, well, a rather creepy quality when you separated the questions out:
Do you have clothes on?

There's no nudity in the pictures?

Are you drunk or anything?

It's just you and your friend cavorting?

Is it two women together?

Could it be in a provocative way?

Any sexual nature in the pictures?

Okay, it's not a negligee situation or anything like that?

It's just you?

There's nothing provocative in the pictures? (Dood, she said no the first time!)

Is this a fantasy picture thing? Were you dressed up in a certain way?... She could be dressed up as some kind of dominatrix thing or something like that.

Dood, indeed. There you have it: the face of Fox News, and the conservative media generally, is Bill O'Reilly, who increasingly comes off as an insecure, leering old fart intent on whipping up his fellow flatulents and catering to their insecurities. They know that playing on people's fears at a vulnerable age can be a lucrative thing, and there's gold in making believers out of them -- people like Rick Perlstein's grandmother.

It's kind of pathetic, really. But then, it's what we've come to expect from Fox News and Bill O'Reilly.

[Edited to clear up penultimate graf.]

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