Vote for Romney; join a harem

A National Review columnist sets a new low in political writing, but in doing so points out the fundamental difference between the extreme right and the rest of us.

You’ll be able to read far and wide this year without finding a sicker piece of political writing than Kevin Williamson’s paean to the awesomeness of Mitt Romney’s alpha-maleness, now up on National Review Online.

Williamson’s central argument is that the wives of Romney and his sons have huge litters, consisting mostly of males, while Obama has only two daughters. That proves that Romney, who’s basically a “tribal chieftain,” is manlier than Obama, whose two daughters mean that he practically has “fallopian tubes.” (No, seriously. I’m quoting, accurately and in context.)

Moreover, Romney is really, really rich, and since all women, deep in their 23rd chromosome pair, really want to be part of some sheikh’s harem, “Mitt Romney ought to get 100% of the female vote.”

Now, if I were like Kevin Williamson, I’d point out that admiring alpha males is purely a female trait; the other males mostly want to kill them, or at least replace them. And then I’d draw the natural conclusion about Williamson’s masculinity, perhaps with Romney’s own signature “Attagirl!”

But I’m not at all like that, so instead let me remark that Williamson’s post defines precisely the difference between the extreme right and normal people. Monogamy, which redistributes reproductive opportunities from high-status males to the rest of us, is a fundamentally egalitarian idea. Polygamy is the Randian alternative: equality of opportunity, not equality of result. Just as Romney says children ought to get “as much education as they can afford,” on Williamson’s account every man ought to have as many wives and children as he can afford.

If you are a woman who longs to share a disgustingly rich husband with a dozen or so co-wives, or a man rich enough to afford to keep a harem, or, like Williamson, a pathetic lickspittle of such rich men – someone who would sacrifice his manhood to be a harem guard if the pay were good enough – you should definitely vote Republican.

Else, not.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

43 thoughts on “Vote for Romney; join a harem”

  1. I’m not going to look up whether Williamson also swooned over GWB — father of two daughters — or ask what he thinks of George Washington. Such people will say any fool thing that comes into their heads.

    1. I was blissfully unaware of the existence of Kevin Williamson until I read this repugnant piece. Now I shall follow Prof. Kleiman’s link to see if, in fact, he has actually managed to outdo himself.

    2. Getting yourself elected President of the United States of America should count as alpha-malish if anything does, right? The last 12 of those, starting with Truman, all have had at least one daughter, but six have had no sons. Just sayin’.

      1. And 3 of the 4 children of the Democratic president whom the Goopers think most manly, JE Carter, were male.

        This rant is up there with the swooning for the presentation of Dubya’s package when he strutted on the Mission Accomplished aircraft carrier.

  2. I wonder how the fact that three of Romney’s sons had children conceived via in vitro fertilization, and one son gave him two grandsons conceived via IVF and carried to term by a surrogate mother. How does the need for assisted reproduction factor into Romney’s manly awesomeness at having sired a male-filled clan (let alone how it plays with the “personhood” crowd, since embryos are destroyed in the process)? Not to mention the fact that Obama’s children have not yet reached their reproductive years…it all sounds like the ramblings of a caveman.

  3. Bad computer. I was still editing and not ready to post but it went out anyway. Post should read:

    I wonder how Williamson views the fact* that three of Romney’s sons had children conceived via in vitro fertilization, and one son gave him two grandsons conceived via IVF and carried to term by a surrogate mother.

    I also wonder if during all that IVF any sex-selection was performed on the embryos chosen to be implanted.

    How does the need for assisted reproduction factor into Romney’s manly awesomeness at having sired a male-filled clan (let alone how it plays with the “personhood” crowd, since embryos are destroyed in the process)?

    Furthermore, Obama is a lot younger and his children have not even reached their reproductive years yet…no matter; it all sounds like the ramblings of a caveman.

  4. Mark, I don’t understand why you even buy into this definition of “high-status male.”

    There are, you know, cultures in which being a yeshiva bocher is very sexy.

  5. I get the impression that Kevin Williamson’s female acquaintances have all politely said ‘Let’s just be friends” to him throughout his life.

    1. You forgot the very important words they said after “Let’s just be friends.” I believe they were: “Don’t call me, I’ll call you.”

  6. All Republicanism is:

    1. Authoritarianism and
    2. Misdirection about the fact that all Republicanism is authoritarianism.

    Williamson has let the mask slip much more than usual.

  7. O. M. G. Why didn’t he just write “do me, Mitt” and save us all that dreck? Bet he wishes he had been in Hellenstic Greece, when really successful alpha males took young catamites like him under their wing and showed them all about power and influence.

  8. This pitch-perfect takedown will kick off a deep, restful sleep for me. “Pathetic lickspittle” is such elegant precision. As elegant as is called for, to be sure.

    1. You should also look at Scott Erik Kaufman’s “beyond-parody parody” at lawyersgunsandmoney.

  9. Who do you vote for if you are a man who longs to share a disgustingly rich wife with a dozen or so co-husbands, or a woman rich enough to afford to keep a harem?

  10. Epic (as I believe the young people say, or least used to say when I was not quite so old)! I mean, you’re spot on as far as the substance, but that’s not unusual. But you’ve also achieved precisely the tone of dismissive contempt that the Williamson piece deserves, and brought teh funny into the bargain. It’s like you’re channeling Roy Edroso or something.

    And, oh yeah, by all means do check out that SEK take-down.)

  11. No doubt he was typing frantically with one hand. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
    I just couldn’t get past the first steamy, sticky page.

  12. Prof. Kleiman,

    That is a brilliant and scalding piece of writing. But, your piece and Linda Greenhouse’s article today in the NYT on the Eighth Circuit and the First Amendment has me seriously worried that we are on the verge of new Dark Age. Reason, science and critical thinking are apparently anathema in the Republican Party, replaced with faith-based ideology. Obama needs to rethink his strategy, because apparently Republicans can just make stuff up.

  13. Yes, this was just about the perfect response. What is truly pathetic about Williamson, et al. is that so ingrained is his anti-woman view of the world that he probably doesn’t even realize that he basically just declared that female children don’t count for anything when racking up a man’s accomplishments. Aside from being a rather dour reflection on the manliness of one George W. Bush (not to mention Thomas Jefferson or Harry Truman) he also dosen’t seem to realize that such a sentiment might explain why women are not predisposed to vote for such an evident alpha male. Most women are sentient enough to understand the difference between marrying a man and voting for him and might not be too keen to vote for someone who represents a political party that gives their existence a value of zero.

  14. Mark, I can only surmise that as you wrote this post, your tongue was planted firmly in your cheek, as was Mr. Williamson’s when he wrote his article. Nevertheless, in a long line of idiotic, partisan posts, this drivel ranks right up there with the dopiest. I smell panic in the air among the D’s. And we haven’t even had the conventions yet!

    1. And we haven’t even had the conventions yet!

      Same old. Same old.
      Another Republican convention….
      Another “her”icane threatening to blow it away…

    2. Redwave, you need to change your handle to red mist, because something’s in your eyes if you think anyone’s panicking over Paul “Plan? What plan? Ryan and Mitt “Tax returns? What tax returns?” Romney.

    3. Ahh, the old Limbaugh line: “Just kidding!” Go ahead, Redwave: delude yourself about the people you’re trying to put in power. But don’t expect the rest of us to share your delusions.

      Here’s a challenge: Find a single Red Team website that points to this as a joke.

      1. When I first saw it I assumed it was a jokey piece, perhaps the National Review editors let it in the online version (only), which doesn’t cost them much and might get them some page views. Then I saw that it was actually in the print copy, so I figured it must have been tucked into the the back, where magazine editors put the humor pieces. But take a look again – it’s the cover article of the print magazine! And there you have it. Not a joke. At least, not an intentional one.

  15. I think that it’s possible that Williamson had tongue in cheek and was also trying to be in close-to-dead-serious, but does not quite understand the reasonable interpetation (that is, the interpretation any sane, reasoning person might make) of his screed. But he lost me with the family photo–that recurring blue-check element reminded me of seeing the regionally-famous Duggar clan, all dressed in shirts or dresses cut from the same bolt of cotton/poly-blend gingham.

  16. Okay, I went to the NR site and read the piece. Not a bit of irony in it.

    I did find this interesting comment there:

    ” Clareita
    08/23/12 09:39

    As I was reading this story, I kept waiting for the punch line, but like a bad SNL sketch, it never came. Having sons instead of daughters makes you more of a man?? Mabe in Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Yemen (countries people at the NR tend not to be fans of) but not 21st century America.

    I’m trying to figure out piece likes this comes to fruition. First, you have the thought that manly men have sons and girly men have daughters. Second, you need to head over to the computer to flesh out that winner of an idea. Third, you review it still looks good. Fourth, you hit send and put it out there for everyone to read. It is hard to believe that at no point in the this process Kevin Williamson didn’t think, “Hmm… maybe this isn’t quite the brilliant idea I thought it was.”

    Excellent timing on the part of the NR to publish a piece that celebrates the birth of boys over girls at time when the top Republican newsmaker is a guy who believes that rape victims shouldn’t have access to emergency contraception that will prevent them from facing the added trauma of pregnancy. Way to close that gender gap.

    1. I have no intention of reading this article.

      But you’re right – the really interesting question is, how can the National Review publish something like that? I knew it was a worthless publication from years ago, as it was very badly reasoned and written.

      But that even a marginally respectable mag would publish the idea that girls are worth less is, I must admit, mildly surprising to me. And I already knew the US had a sexism problem. That is to say, yes, women and girls *are* worth less in America. We are treated as such, and it is a fact.

      But no one in the right mind thinks this is a good thing. I am a little shocked. Didn’t see that coming.

      1. Seems there’s been a bit of a bigotry coming-out party this election season.

        What’s next — Prejudice Pride parades?

      2. How do you hypothesize that the inequality gets so effectively perpetuated if not that a lot of people who are nominally in their right minds believe it’s a good thing?

        I’ve concluded that it’s a part of human nature that even sane people can believe completely insane things.

    1. I am dying to know how those super-manly Y sperm kill, diminish, or dominate their X brethren… it’s sure to be a howler.

  17. I think that you’ve made a serious error here. It is obvious from reading the NRO piece that the NRO-online has surreptitiously been taken over by The Onion.

  18. My money is on Malia and Sasha against any of the Mittster’s male grandchildren of comparable age.

  19. I want to offer an uninformed opinion (I have not read the article): that along with veneration of authority and bedrock belief in natural hierarchical order, conservatives (not just fundie christianists) truly believe the nut of Williamson’s piece. More: that it has come to the point where American conservatism, in service to capital, is ready to functionally assert this belief on the body politic. This goes right to the heart of American liberalism, a classic Rovian move. At first just a ‘ridiculous’ piece in the National Review; but along with the assault on reproductive rights and institutional implementation of christianist values… this may be less a joke than a whiff of the future. Who’s to say? Maybe just a propaganda fart by the Repubes. But these folks are becoming less and less reticent in asserting their deepest, darkest desires.

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