Jewish World Review Oct. 12, 2000/ 13 Tishrei, 5761
Gore vs. Bush: Volvo vs. Maserati
HERE'S A NEW WAY to think about the Gender Gap. To decide which candidate we like best we should
think of our guy as a car.
A focus group in California, asked just this question, identified Al Gore as either a Ford Taurus, a
Chevy station wagon, or a Volvo: Safe, square and not very daring.
George W. was identified as a Maserati or a Mustang convertible. (No adjectives necessary.) The
New York Times headline over this story says it all: "Among Men, It's Bush the Maserati by a Mile.''
This coincides, metaphorically speaking, with an analysis by Susie Turnbull, chairman of the Women's
Caucus of the Democratic National Committee. George W., she says, would be "a great first date,''
but Al's the guy you want to take home to meet the folks as "the man you're going to marry.''
Hmmmmmm. Even if he's a Volvo?
Approximately 47 percent of women who are likely to vote say they prefer Al Gore in a recent
Times/CBS News poll, but that's still 7 points shy of Bill Clinton's female majority in 1996 and
troublesome for Al as long as George W. holds on to his leads of up to 20 points among men.
Radical feminists who argue with my view that men and women are wired differently have accused
me of being "male identified.'' I'm not quite sure what that means, but if it means that I'd rather drive
a Mustang convertible than a Volvo sedan, they've got me in their headlights. (Full disclosure: I've
never owned anything but a convertible, though never a Mustang.)
The car analogy may be a stretch, but concerns over masculine images in this campaign are not. Both
Al Gore and George W. try to dilute their testosterone levels -- or hide them -- with oh-so-sensitive
appeals to Oprah's audience of women, but what most of us male and female really want to measure
is how comfortable these men are in their own male skins.
The specifics of the vice president's famous exaggerations, for example, are less crucial than the fact
that he thinks he has to make them in the first place. The fibs and stretchers inevitably cast a certain
phoniness over Al's demeanor. Don Imus likens the vice president's much-remarked grunts and sighs
in the first debate to the noise of a moose in heat. This is not a guy who looks like he generally snorts;
he sounds like he's trying to be something he isn't.
Nor does the pumped-up steroid physique, with neck rising to ears, suit the nerd with figures at his
fingertips. He might do better with a lean and hungry look, like Cassius, with a slide rule in his back
pocket and pencils in a plastic shirt-pocket protector. He pushes against type, looking more like parody
Camille Paglia, a kind of female version of Don Imus, writes in Salon.com that Al overcompensates
for a "hothouse upbringing by dominating parents (which) probably produced his prissy, lisping Little
Lord Fauntleroy persona.'' That's why he has trouble with men.
White and blue-collar heterosexual men, we're told (but usually not by heterosexual men), are
undergoing an identity crisis. The evidence is inexact and ranges from an attack on boy behavior from
kindergarten through college to the rise of an aggressive female work force.
The old rules no longer apply. Chivalry is dead. Man as breadwinner is gone with the wind, or at least
gone with Ozzie Nelson. Bachelor, husband or father is no longer the protector of women but the
competitor with women -- at home, office, on the jog and in the gym. A survey of popular titles in
bookstores arranged under "Men's Studies'' include "The War Against Boys,'' "The Myth of Male
Power,'' "The Decline of Males,'' "On Men: Masculinity in Crisis.''
In fact, many single women probably favor Al Gore because they think he would pump up big
government again, to take over what was formerly the role of the male protector. This doesn't appeal
to most married women. They have other concerns. George W. appeals to the independent-minded
boomer women who earn their own money and want to decide for themselves how to spend it, and on
whom, and when. George W.'s promise to repeal the so-called "death tax,'' to enable boomer parents
to leave their savings to their children, is naturally popular with these women.
Anyone who watches George W. work a room sees a man in tune with his masculinity, but more
important, his promises require neither patronizing tone nor pedantic lecture. This makes him the
antithesis of Al. Maybe those focused Californians know what they're talking about. What we've got
is a race between a Volvo and a Maserati after
10/10/00: We weep for Rami for he is dead
10/05/00: Looking at Lieberman from inside the 'ghetto'
10/02/00: Campaigns, candidates, and kissy-face
09/28/00: Laughing and crying over Joe Lieberman
09/21/00: Targeting teenagers for money
09/21/00: Sexual politics in New York
09/18/00: Surviving the stereotypes and debates
09/14/00: Gloria Steinem runs cheerfully into captivity
09/12/00: Sex in the eye of the partisan
09/07/00: 'Sex and death' on the college campus
09/05/00: Joe Lieberman as a 'Menorah Man'
08/31/00: Rising suns of the conventions
08/17/00: Changing icons: From Loretta Young to Hillary Clinton
08/14/00: The Creator returns to the public square
08/10/00: Bursting with pride, but caution too
08/07/00: Brains, beauty and beastly politics
08/03/00: A candidate with a superego
07/31/00: The sizzling Lynne Cheney
07/27/00: The party of the aging Playboys
07/24/00 Hillary drives the Jewish wagon into a ditch
07/20/00 Conservatives gone fishin'
07/17/00: Snoop Doggy Dogg was a founding father, wasn't he?
07/13/00: When a teenager doesn't need a prime minister
07/10/00: Abortion as cruel and unusual punishment
07/06/00: Surviving 'survivor' TV
07/03/00: Independence Day with Norman Rockwell
06/29/00: Here comes 'something old'
06/26/00: Waiting too long for the baby
06/22/00: Good teachers, curious students and oxymorons
06/19/00: Wanted: Some ants for Gore's pants
06/15/00: Like father, like daughter
06/12/00: Culture wars and conservative warriors
06/08/00: Return of the housewife
06/05/00: Hillary and Al -- playing against type
05/31/00: The sexual revolution confronts the SUV
05/25/00: Waiting for the movie
05/22/00: Pistol packin' mamas
05/18/00: Journalists and the 'new time' religion
05/15/00: There's nothing like a (military) dame
05/11/00: 'The Human Stain' on campus
05/09/00: We've come a long way, Betty Friedan
05/04/00: From George Washington to Mansa Masu
05/01/00: Gore's ruthless doublespeak
04/28/00: Doing it Castro's way
04/24/00: Women's studies beget narrow minds
04/17/00: The slippery slope of anti-Semitism
04/13/00: A villain larger than life
04/10/00: When mourning becomes an economic tragedy
04/03/00: The last permissible bigotry
03/30/00: Seeking the political Oscar
03/23/00: The gaying of America
03/20/00: Pointy-eared quadrupeds on campus
03/16/00: The shocking art of the establishment
03/13/00: Sawdust on the campaign trail
03/10/00: Campaign rhetoric of manhood
03/06/00: The Amphetamine of the People
03/02/00: Elegy for Amadou
02/29/00: With only a million, what's a poor girl to do?
02/24/00: The changing politics of change
02/16/00: Tip from Hillary: 'Let 'em eat eggs'
02/10/00: No seances with Eleanor
02/07/00: Campaigning like our founding fathers
02/03/00: When neo-Nazis have short memories
01/31/00: George W. -- 'Ladies man' and 'man's man'
01/27/00: Dead white males and live white politicians
01/25/00: Smarting over presidential smarts
01/21/00: A post-modern song for `The Sopranos'
01/19/00: When personality is a long-distance plus
01/13/00: French lessons in amour --- and marriage
01/10/00: Reaching for the Big Golden Apple
01/07/00: Liddy Dole as the face of feminism
01/04/00: Hillary: From victim to victor
12/30/99: 'Dream catchers' for the millennium
12/27/99: In search of a candidate with strength and eloquence
12/21/99: The president as First Lady
12/16/99: Columbine with blurred hindsight
12/09/99: Homeless deserve discriminating attention
12/07/99: Casual censors and deadly know-nothings
12/02/99: Why mom didn't make general: A reality tale
11/30/99: Potholes on the road to the Promised Land
11/25/99: A feast for the spirit and the stomach
11/23/99: Fathers need to say 'I (can) do'
11/18/99: Adventures of a conservative pundit
11/15/99: Traveling with Jefferson on the information highway
11/11/99: Wanted: 'Foliage of forbiddinness' for the oval office
11/09/99: Eggs, art and rotten commerce
11/05/99: Al Gore, 'Alpha Male'. Bow wow.
11/01/99: Gay love
10/28/99: Lose one Dole, lose two
10/26/99: Rebels with a violent cause
10/21/99: Reforming parents, reforming schools
10/19/99: The male mystique -- he shops
10/13/99:The campaign of the Teletubbies
10/08/99: Money is in the eye of the art dealer
10/01/99: Lincoln's 'Almost Chosen People'
09/29/99: Introducing Bill and Hillary Bickerson
09/27/99: Must we wait for the next massacre?
09/24/99: Miss America meets Miss'd America
09/21/99: Princeton's 'professor death'
09/16/99: The Cisneros lesson
09/13/99: No clemency for personal politics
09/08/99: M-M-M is for manhood
08/30/99: Blocking the schoolhouse door
08/27/99: No kick from cocaine
08/23/99: Movies don't kill people
08/19/99: A rude awakening
08/16/99: Dubyah and that 'language' thing
08/09/99: Chauvinist sows -- oink oink
©1999, Suzanne Fields. Distributed by Los Angeles Times Syndicate