By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
If America remains preoccupied with terrorism, the sexual politics I'm describing will affect the 2004 election only obliquely. But if voters focus on other things, the macho issue could be as crucial as it was in 2000, when Al Gore was wussified. Rove's rangers have already begun bashing the Democratic candidate most likely to make Bush look like all cake and no beef: John Kerry.
First they questioned his patriotism, then they accused him of looking French, and now they're landing on his wife, casting her as a hyper-Hillary. Teresa Heinz Kerry's outspokenness, her devotion to her dead former husband, her current prenup, and her vow to maim any man who steps out on her are all being used to portray her as a ball-breaking bitch and John Kerry as her emasculated victim. So powerful is this harridan image that it actually allows the Bushies to bash Teresa for her wealth. If she doesn't finance Kerry's campaign, she's dissing him; if she does, he's a kept man.
Kerry isn't the front-runner, yet the White House has singled him out for sexual calumny. To understand this fixation, you have to consider Kerry's stature (he towers over Bush), his war record, and his sloe-eyed Kennedy aura. In another era, these would be clear signals of masculinity. Today, you have to flash your stash, and Kerry's patrician style doesn't lend itself to that. But he does have those tales from 'Nam, and in a one-on-one he could expose the angst under Bush's aggression. If the economy tanks while Iraq seethes, we just might have a real contest.
Fasten your crotch straps. With luck, we're in for a bumpy ride.