Why do so many conservatives see themselves as tough guys?
While slumming in the right-wing blogosphere earlier today, I saw a headline that read as follows:
“Obama To Putin: Will You Remove Your Troops From Ukraine, Pretty Please? — Putin To Obama: No.”
This sort of nonsense is emblematic of the Republican right’s penchant for pseudo-macho posturing. We’re the manly men, they seem to be saying. We’d know how to deal with Putin. We wouldn’t let him humiliate us, as Barack Obama is doing.
(Funny thing, by the way, about the right-wingers’ attitude regarding President Obama. Their message gets a bit mixed-up when they portray him in one breath as weak and spineless and in the next breath as a bully. On one day, he’s an effete Ivy League smart-ass; on the next, he’s a thug from the streets of Chicago.)
But inevitably, the conservatives never stray far from their self-image as America’s manly daddy and protector. If it was up to them, they’d teach that Putin punk a thing or two.
It’s all bluster, of course. None of the Republicans in Congress actually are calling for a shooting war with Russia. That would be insane. Americans in general want us to stay the hell out of this Russia-Ukraine business. The last thing they want is any military involvement. That’s the way they felt about the situation in Syria, too.
But public opinion notwithstanding, the conservatives can’t help but swagger, especially with regard to foreign policy. They’ve declared themselves unimpressed by the economic sanctions Obama has imposed on Russia, even though those steps are taking a toll. I guess they think he’s not growling enough or something.
The most hilarious aspect of this macho make-believe is the claim that Ronald Reagan would know how to handle Putin. Ronald Wilson Reagan was much more of a man than Barack Hussein Obama is, they say.
Would that be the same Ronald Reagan whose stint in the Armed Forces during World War II was confined entirely to duty in Hollywood? Would that be the same Ronald Reagan who hastily withdrew U.S. troops from Lebanon when terrorists killed hundreds of Marines in the bombing of a U.S. barracks in Beirut?
As president, Reagan was lots of things — good and not so good. But he was not one to jump at every opportunity to send our military into armed conflict — unless you’re counting that minor skirmish in the tiny island nation of Grenada, the nutmeg capital of the world, for a war that a street gang from any American city could have won.
Nor did Reagan display any decisive manly wisdom when his administration sold weapons to a state sponsor of terrorism.
No, the only way the likes of Reagan fits into the macho fantasies of today’s conservatives is if you remain ignorant of his real record.
But that’s no problem, right? Reality is not going to interfere with the self-image of the GOP’s tough guys, right?