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The Battle Over Conservative Masculinity, From Bush I To Trump



According to David French, one of the most puzzling aspects of modern Republican discourse is masculinity. President Trump’s aggression via manliness, French wrote, is notable. Men who criticize the president don’t receive tactical rebuttals but insults aimed at their masculinity. By comparison, Bush wrote in his memoir he was too nice during his political career. “It’€™s a sign of our fallen world that all too many people misinterpret the presence of manners as a lack of manliness,” French wrote.


  • Do people in politics undervalue manners?
  • Is masculinity a problem in our culture?


Vice President George H.W. Bush delivers his acceptance speech in New Orleans, Louisiana, 18 August 1988 at the Republican National Convention (George Bush Presidential Library and Museum/REUTERS).

Significant moments often bring to mind that history did not begin yesterday, that today’s raging debates are echoes of past debates, and that the struggle to preserve virtue never ends.

The equation of Donald Trump’s aggression with manliness and the slander of his (male) critics as feminine is one of the most puzzling aspects of modern Republican discourse. As close as I can tell, the basis of the argument is essentially stylistic and tactical.

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