Down With Alpha Males!

A Top Man Is Not a Leader

That's why fidelity plays as a liability to Gore, but not Bush, and why his background as a political scion makes Gore seem effete, but not Bush. Even W's gaffes affirm his masculinity. (After all, no one ever lost butch points for being stupid.) We need an anchor to the old way of being manly, even as we expect it to be oiled with postmodern irony, and Bush projects a knowing wryness—a certain distance from ideas—that trumps Gore's glaring lack of pomo style. "Women are impressed with swagger and paternalism in presidential candidates, just as men are," writes the very pomo Dowd. So we are—especially since we live in an age when macho is a cultural artifact, an image that plays well on TV, an empty jock.

But feminism is not responsible for the state of the American presidency, an office with less and less power to actually run things. The real alpha males are the stewards of corporate capital, and they see the U.S. as one market in a global economy. America is entering the new millennium as a superpower in an age of invisible empires. The president has become the symbol of a world that is vanishing before our eyes. And in our rush to find a real man in an ambiguous time, we seem to have forgotten the lesson Europeans learned at such a catastrophic price: The ultimate alpha is a tyrant. 

Research: Jason Schwartzberg

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