The Great Butch Hope

Can Wesley Clark Deliver the Male?

I don't take solace in uniforms, and I'm more likely to admire those who resisted the Vietnam War than those who distinguished themselves by fighting in it, as Clark did. I don't trust avowed centrists (who often turn out to be closet neocons) and I'm not eager to get into bed with a creature of the Democratic Leadership Council. I'd rather shack up with Liza Minnelli.

But it would be dishonest to claim that the events of 9-11 haven't affected me. I live a mile from ground zero, and that gives me a very tangible perspective on security. I opposed the Iraq adventure because it reeked of the macho logic that had given us Vietnam, and it is turning out pretty much as I feared. But I'm open to a candidate, in or out of uniform, who knows how to form the kind of global alliances that will keep me alive. And as for sleeping with centrists, after four years of Bush I wouldn't reject an unreliable suitor whose heart seems positive if not pure—as long as he can win.

That begs the question of whether falling for the military mystique can be anything but a patriarchal gesture. I worry about that, but at this point I'm willing to settle for anyone who advances the process of social change, even modestly. Maybe I'm fronting for my own retreat, but I've come to believe the revolution that endures is the one that happens slowly. And if Clark can make America see the difference between macho and masculinity—that is, between a defensive response to women and a confident one—he just might earn the ultimate star, as commander in chief.

Research: Matthew Phillp</I

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