Tom McLaughlin

A former history teacher, Tom is a columnist who lives in Lovell, Maine. His column is published in Maine and New Hampshire newspapers and on numerous web sites. Email: tomthemick@gmail.com

Monday, April 04, 2016

Metrosexual Masquerade

I’ve always had trouble with the “turn the other cheek” thing. If someone punched you in the face and you just stood there, you could expect it to happen again and again until you moved away. That’s how it was in my neighborhood. What you did was hit back harder and more often —  twice at least — before asking, “Want some more?” If the other guy was tougher you still had to hit back, even when you knew you’d get pounded. Everyone understood that. There was never a shortage of bullies, and that’s the way you dealt with them. Though I’ve met bullies several times since, I haven’t had to hit one for decades. I think it was because they knew, viscerally, that I would. I’m fairly old now, but I still would.
There are always bullies, and boys who fight back. The way adults handle it, however, has changed. Teachers and administrators who have to deal with occasional fights have stopped inquiring about who or what started it — who may have been in the right, and who in the wrong. Instead, the same punishment is meted out to both combatants because the new ethic is: “Fighting is always wrong.” That sometimes it’s right is never considered in what some call our new, feminized culture. 
I know men who believe that’s the way is should be, and they may be in the majority now. That’s sad, but what’s even worse? These metrosexual men are running our government. When Vladimir Putin invaded the Crimea, Secretary of State John Kerry said, “You just don’t in the 21st century behave in 19th century fashion by invading another country on completely trumped up pre-text.”
Really John? I know you grew up in Massachusetts the same time I did, but maybe it was in a different kind of neighborhood, or maybe you were a cheek-turner. If you’ve never been punched you in the head, you never learned the basic lessons every man should learn. Clearly Putin learned them, and he understands you much better than you understand him. That’s unfortunate for the rest of us Americans you’re representing. You should know the nature of man is the same in the 21st century as it was in the 19th and in every other century, but you don’t.
After Putin took Crimea and then massed troops on the Ukrainian border, President Obama said almost the same thing Kerry did: “Because you're bigger and stronger [you’re] taking a piece of the country — that is not how international law and international norms are observed in the 21st century.” Oh yeah? I have news for you President Obama: That’s the law of the jungle no matter what century it is. You clearly haven’t learned it, and neither has your Secretary of State.
Yes, I know Kerry got three Purple Hearts and a silver star in Vietnam, but the Swiftboat Veterans for Truth were right when they claimed he lied to receive them. I came to know Kerry shortly after that. I worked in his unsuccessful campaign for congress in 1972. He was a guest in my house and in my parents’ house, and I sensed in him what Putin sensed, and what Iranian negotiators sensed: A leader needs an inner core of toughness and Kerry hasn’t got it. It’s not there. Neither his Boston Brahmin accent nor his $400 haircuts, nor his ill-gotten medals can disguise the emptiness of his expensive, tailored suit. I stopped showing up at his campaign headquarters back in September of ’72, and I was happy to watch him lose in November after spending more than any other congressional candidate in the country.
Never have I met President Obama, but I’ve been forced to see him over and over on television — so many times that I feel like I know him. He’s faced tough situations and I’ve observed his reactions. My conclusion? He hasn’t got it either. If I had any doubt, it was gone when he drew a red line in Syria and then let Assad cross it. He dithered and denied, saying he never drew it in the first place. After that, nothing mattered — not the crease in his pants that David Brooks so admired, not the thrill Chris Matthews got up his leg, not the resolve he pretends to possess as he reads from a teleprompter — none of it. Both our allies and our enemies know that, although people in the Obama Administration still talk tough, that’s all there will ever be. They’ve seen the man behind the curtain and he isn’t much.

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17 Comments:

Anonymous Erik said...

How cute, tough guy Tom spouts off his admiration for the Putins of the world. Tom must really have deep admiration for Stalin, Franco, Mussolini and all the other old tough guy leaders of the world.

How many of those tough guys accomplished an iota of what someone like Martin Luther King did?

What’s more intimidating than an angry mob of bullies with weapons? The person courageous enough to stand up to them with no weapon at all. Are you going to deny MLK's toughness because he never punched a bully? Take a lesson from a real man like him.

I know that mid-life crises are tough to deal with, but it's time to grow up Tom, and realize that real world problems are not best solved by child-like schoolyard scraps.

4/5/16, 7:45 AM  
Blogger Tom McLaughlin said...

Yes, MLK was a great man, a strong man. HIs strength derived from his faith in God. He could only be who he was because he lived in the USA, the most powerful nation on earth with professed values of protecting God-given rights. His acts of civil disobedience embarrassed America, as he knew they would. His spiritual mentor, Ghandi, could only do what he did because he was opposing with the British Empire, a civilized, western culture which could be embarrassed by his organized displays of civil disobedience.

Neither man could have done these things under Joe Stalin, Adolph Hitler, or ISIS. We only know of Solzhenitsyn's ordeals because they were published in the west, most after the west defeated the Soviet Union in the cold war. Obama and Kerry are not MLK or Ghandi. In their own minds, maybe, and in yours, but that's it.

4/5/16, 8:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is there anything wimpier than some old dude sitting back and trying to belittle the brave actions of our soldiers? This reminds me of Trump trying to say that McCain was not a war hero. Whether it is a pompous old business man or pompous old columnist, it is pathetic. The far-right funded attacks on Kerry, pathetic as they were at the time, are down-right moronic coming years after being discredited.

http://factcheck.bootnetworks.com/article231.html

What's next, a rehashing of the birther "issue"?

You really have so little of actual substance that you have to go back to those dried up old wells?

4/5/16, 12:33 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

I wouldn't be too proud about a society that created the need for an MLK. After all, he was imprisoned and murdered by people trying to deny him those God-given rights.

4/5/16, 5:22 PM  
Anonymous Gus said...

Weird that some supposedly proud American would be so enthralled with a murderous Russian "strongman".

"Look how tough he is...did you see him in the picture giving the finger? Hot stuff!"

Do you have Stalin posters up in your house, and bow down to his inner core of toughness?

"Oh, and I've always had trouble with the turning-the-other-cheek thing, but the ultimate cheek turners, MLK and Gandhi were great men. Well, that makes no sense, but whatever."

Obama had a great line when talking about the GOP being against admitting 3-year old orphans from Muslim countries into the US:

“These are the same folks that say they’re so tough that just talking to (Russian President Vladimir) Putin or staring down ISIL (ISIS) or using some additional rhetoric will solve the problem – but apparently they’re scared of 3-year-old orphans.”

4/5/16, 8:21 PM  
OpenID bc64a9f8-765e-11e3-8683-000bcdcb2996 said...

Crimea: I was ready to bet BIG cash that Moldova was going to be part of THAT deal, just because of it's coast.
Granted, Russia seems to be in long range aircraft mode these days.
Well, let's see who the next person in the chair with Presidential Powers is, not to mention that January is a LONG way for someone with a desperate need for "legacy" to um...act.
Who's going to be this year's Time Magazine "Chamberlain" award winner?
CaptDMO

4/6/16, 11:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I’ve always had trouble with the “turn the other cheek” thing. If someone punched you in the face and you just stood there, you could expect it to happen again and again until you moved away. That’s how it was in my neighborhood. What you did was hit back harder and more often — twice at least — before asking, “Want some more?” If the other guy was tougher you still had to hit back, even when you knew you’d get pounded. Everyone understood that. There was never a shortage of bullies, and that’s the way you dealt with them. "

Seems like you describe the situation in gaza perfectly. Yet, you back the bully and cry foul when the little guy tries to fight back.
Hmm....

4/6/16, 11:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, attacks on war heroes are pathetic, but the ultimate way to tell when you are dealing with a partisan lemming with nothing of real substance to say is when they bring up the teleprompter! The following is from The U.S. News and World Report's article:

"The G.O.P.s dumbest attack"

I refer to Teleprompter Derangement Syndrome, or Prompterphobia. It is the most mystifying attack the right levels against Obama. It's a strange obsession because it's inane. Teleprompters are tools. Sure they're high tech if you've just emerged from the 1950s (which might explain the GOP's fascination with them), but ultimately they're just a medium for prepared remarks, substantively no different from a sheet of paper on a lectern. A teleprompter can't magically imbue a poor speech with additional spellbinding qualities. Criticizing someone for using a teleprompter is like berating him for using a microphone, or arguing that there's something wrong with writing on a word processor rather than with a quill and ink.


Teleprompters are tools that every president since Dwight Eisenhower has used, some with greater comfort than others. Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush liked to work off note cards; Obama seems most comfortable in front of a teleprompter. In all cases, the medium is not the message—the message is the message.

Conservatives who deride Obama's teleprompter as a crutch, without which he would be helpless, seem unaware that virtually all modern presidential remarks are prepared in advance. The main difference with Obama involves stagecraft: A teleprompter is a visible reminder of this preparation as opposed to a typed speech sitting on the lectern.

But of course we are to expect the dumbest attacks from our dumbest columnists.

4/6/16, 4:26 PM  
Anonymous Rick said...

Can't you just picture Tom sitting down to write about Obama, pecking away at his computer, brow furled, tongue sticking out slightly from between his teeth, looking up frequently at his checklist of insults, taking a break to find a funny picture, (hopefully involving outlandish gays) giggling to himself about them...

He must have been mad at himself this time for forgetting the "apology tour". Maybe he was embarrassed by being called out previous times for not being able to give even one example of an apology, but usually past failures don't stop him from repeating them.

4/6/16, 4:51 PM  
Anonymous Gus said...

Tom has got to be a masochist. How else to explain his continuing to put out such easily blasted and beaten pieces week after week? He seems to be begging for the abuse he takes.

"Oh yes, please beat me, whip me, fact check me, put me in my place, smother me with your facts, more, more, I will say not even attempt to fight back, oh yes, where are my gay bondage photos, more more"

4/6/16, 6:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Despite evidence to the contrary,Republicans are heavily invested in the idea that President Obama lacks international respect.

Actually, it’s incredibly easy to name countries that have more respect and admiration for the United States today than when President Obama took office. The Pew Research Center published a report last week on “Global Attitudes & Trends” and found that America’s overall image around the world remains quite positive – and in much of the world, impressions of the U.S. have improved since the end of the Bush/Cheney era.


But facts will not deter Republican talking points.


The US has actually rebounded from the loss of respect the world shad during the Bush years.

And therein lies the irony of contemporary GOP whining – Republicans seem absolutely convinced that President Obama is seen abroad as a hapless failure, but the argument is completely backwards. Obama is quite popular across much of the planet, while it’s Bush who was reviled abroad. GOP candidates promising to restore global respect for the White House have a problem: they’re six years too late.

If Republicans want to argue that Obama shouldn’t be popular abroad, fine. But reality is not in dispute.

Look up the evidence:


http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/06/24/7-charts-on-how-the-world-views-president-obama/

4/8/16, 10:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder if Obama's increase in approval ratings has to do with people comparing what it means to be "Presidential" with the clown show going on with the GOP.

4/10/16, 4:52 PM  
OpenID bc64a9f8-765e-11e3-8683-000bcdcb2996 said...

I wonder if Obama's increase in approval ratings has to do with who is now "asked", and how the statistics are "reported" by "select" groups of folks?

Waaaay OT.
So "this guy" from the cable company came by to fix what the fist guy from the cable company missed, and the cable company couldn't fix with their REALLY CREEPY "puter feed back system.
He told me he lived in Lovell and grew up in Fryeburg. Something about his Jr. High history teacher came up.(OK, he said Lovell and I asked "Hey, do you know....um...Stephen King")
His BIG complaint was "He taught us stuff that is STILL stuck in his head.
I'm guessing he's about 45 or so.
Just sayin'
CaptDMO

4/10/16, 5:34 PM  
Anonymous GenWTF said...

I get it, Capt. If you don't like the news question the source. If you like the news, swallow it hook line and sinker, facts be damned. I bet when the same polls from the same sources showed Obama's numbers way down that you believed them then.

But I understand what hatred can do to a rational mind. No amount of facts will change a mind so closed and so set.

GenWTF

4/10/16, 5:54 PM  
OpenID bc64a9f8-765e-11e3-8683-000bcdcb2996 said...

Amusing logic in conclusion. Young thinkers never disappoint.
I suspect a teacher might agree.

In fairness, I did wait 'til the ACTUAL working man (20+ years he told me)from the
cable company had finished his (excellent/extra yard)work BEFORE I brought up our host's name.
As he was a pupil, so many years ago, it turned out my fears of "you never know WHERE folks get their "education" from." were entirely unfounded. Our casual conversation on electronics, industrial applications, Chinese vs. Pacific rim manufacturing reliability, gave me a clue.
Oddly, "The Kardasians" popped up during the test of the "problem" with the service. There was Mr. Jenner. When BOTH of us quipped (para) "Oooo, THAT'S an old rerun,(in that non judgemental, size-each-other-up kind of way that "thinking" men do. We ALL know what I mean...RIGHT?) it indicated he was a person who pays at least minimal attention to "the great issues of the world".
Just a bit of "anecdotal" to boost the ego (and kiss up) our host. And let him know to just keep hammerin'.
The real world FAR outreaches the minority of "select" anonymous reasoning to be found in commentary here, (or other venues catering to select "intellectual demographic") than THIS venues TINY SPECK of his life's work.
CaptDMO

4/11/16, 10:20 AM  
Anonymous GenWTF said...

I'm not quite sure what your point is with the whole bit about watching the Kardashians with your young cable boy, but I am very glad that you are correct about the real world FAR outreaching tiny minorities. Take Tea Party types. Thank goodness that they are just a blip in humanities progress, and that we DO keep making progress despite them. Their shrill paranoia and ignorance barely slows the continuation of everybody getting their civil rights. Blacks, women, gays, and now the Jenners of the world. All the "hammerin'" in the world cannot alter reality and the truth. But keep "kissin' up" if it makes you feel good!

4/11/16, 12:12 PM  
Blogger Mike Barton said...

Quote from Anonymous Despite evidence to the contrary,Republicans are heavily invested in the idea that President Obama lacks international respect.
Please name one country that has more respect for the USA since Obama/Kerry.
Kerry is an absolute laughing stock with Obama not far behind. The countries that matter just see the USA as a weak country now with no balls that are just pissing around the edge of the fire.

5/16/16, 5:35 AM  

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