Caitlyn Jenner: The Personal Isn’t Political

 

bruce-caitlyn-splitBruce Jenner’s decision to transform himself into Caitlyn means the end of the Republican Party. So implies the Washington Post in an article tut-tutting social conservatives who don’t think an old guy dressing as a lady is the single most heroic moment in human history.

Robert Costa, who seems desperate to run from his past as a National Review reporter, speaks of the recent Vanity Fair cover as a GOP apocalypse:

In the four days since Bruce Jenner came out as a woman named Caitlyn, many Americans have celebrated her transformation as a courageous and even heroic act.

But among the social conservatives who are a powerful force within the Republican Party, there is a far darker view. To them, the widespread acceptance of Jenner’s evolution from an Olympic gold medalist whose masculinity was enshrined on a Wheaties box to a shapely woman posing suggestively on the cover of Vanity Fair was a reminder that they are losing the culture wars.

Across social media, blogs and talk radio this week, conservatives painted an apocalyptic view of America. They said they felt frustrated and increasingly isolated by the country’s sudden recognition and even embrace of transgender people. They see it as immoral and foreign. They drew comparisons to two grimly futuristic novels, George Orwell’s “1984” and Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World.”

It’s hardly news that many cultural conservatives disagree with some trends in modern culture. They think college hook-up culture will lead to unhappiness, believe binge drinking is unhealthy, and are annoyed that you can’t watch a football game without shielding your kids’ eyes every commercial break. (Or is that just me?)

On the political front, many conservatives have sought to protect the millennia-old definition of marriage and the centuries-old religious freedom not to participate in activities contradictory to their beliefs. Those last two debates continue in the political arena and will ultimately produce changes to our laws and our government. But Jenner’s transformation has little to no impact on either.

Costa worries (for the Republicans’ own good, of course) that GOP presidential candidates can’t appeal to both SoCons and moderates on the greatest issue of our day: The fact that a cable reality star likes to look pretty.

The GOP’s struggle with the issue was evident by the fact that — although President Obama, Hillary Rodham Clinton and other Democrats uniformly praised Jenner’s bravery — no top-tier Republican candidate had anything to say about her this week. Even Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who has made a point of reaching out to people who are normally resistant to his party, declined to comment…

The Jenner episode is the latest national touchstone that has proved treacherous for the GOP, a party especially wary of being seen as intolerant or insensitive going into a big, national election.

“Treacherous?” Immigration policy is worthy of that description, not some magazine cover. Why is it newsworthy if a candidate doesn’t mention Jenner? I doubt they said anything about the latest Taylor Swift video, the sequel to Magic Mike, or the weather in Tallahassee either. That’s because these stories have nothing to do with being President of the United States.

Of course Democratic candidates felt the need to applaud themselves on how hip and with-it they are, unlike those L7 squares in flyover country. Journalists did the same, falling over themselves to praise Jenner’s Courage™ and Bravery™ in letting Annie Leibovitz take his photo to promote a new reality show. (They’ll also feign offense that I used “his” in the previous sentence.)

What Democrats and the media (but I repeat myself) don’t get is that every cultural story is not a political one. No conservative politicos are outlawing reassignment surgery or banning trans Americans from public office. There is no effort to toss Jenner in jail or force E! to drop their latest reality show (unlike similar leftist demands about “Duck Dynasty” and the Duggars’ program).

Serious presidential candidates don’t feel the need to write press releases about every blip on the pop culture radar. They would rather focus on those issues they can affect, such as taxes, health care policy, and national defense.

Nevertheless, it’s only a matter of time until reporters demand GOP candidates take a position on l’Affaire Jenner. My recommendation is to ignore them completely. However, if pressed, just say this:

“The Declaration of Independence talks of the pursuit of happiness. Caitlyn Jenner and every other American can pursue theirs in the way they see fit. Now, if you don’t mind, I’ll get back to talking about ISIS.”

Published in Culture, Politics
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  1. Guruforhire Inactive
    Guruforhire
    @Guruforhire

    He was never masculine.

    The entire formulation is tedious and stupid.

    • #31
  2. Z in MT Member
    Z in MT
    @ZinMT

    Jim Geraghty describe the cultural issues of the day as: The Republicans are just fighting to keep the freedom to NOT care. The progressive culture won’t let people just go on with their lives and not take stands on social issues.

    You can no longer get away with saying, “Eh? Jenner turning into a woman? I think it is weird, but whatever.”

    No, you must celebrate Jenner’s transformation as affirmation of all that is good with society, or else.

    In other words, “You will be made to care.”

    Or else…

    • #32
  3. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive
    Ball Diamond Ball
    @BallDiamondBall

    If our crotch-sniffing media were half as skewed right as they are left, the President would be peppered with hostile gotcha questions about this.

    • #33
  4. user_44643 Inactive
    user_44643
    @MikeLaRoche

    One cannot have fiscal conservatism without social conservatism. That is an incontrovertible fact.

    • #34
  5. user_199279 Coolidge
    user_199279
    @ChrisCampion

    Charlotte:Wait. There’s going to be a Magic Mike sequel?!

    This sums up my thread experience here nicely.

    • #35
  6. user_199279 Coolidge
    user_199279
    @ChrisCampion

    Z in MT:Jim Geraghty describe the cultural issues of the day as: The Republicans are just fighting to keep the freedom to NOT care. The progressive culture won’t let people just go on with their lives and not take stands on social issues.

    You can no longer get away with saying, “Eh? Jenner turning into a woman? I think it is weird, but whatever.”

    No, you must celebrate Jenner’s transformation as affirmation of all that is good with society, or else.

    In other words, “You will be made to care.”

    Or else…

    That’s the part of all of this that’s galling.  Not only am I forced to care, I’m forced to care in the correct manner as dictated by, what, an amalgam of opinions squeezed out through the cheesecloth of Facebook?

    It wasn’t enough to kill Winston Smith.  He had to be converted first, then killed.  Which is why politicians who don’t answer questions about Jenner with a short laugh, and then say “I don’t care, it’s none of my business, and didn’t ISIS behead a bunch of people last week?” to shut the insipid “reporter” up, well, they are just taking up space.

    In case anyone missed it, Congress still needs an enema.  That place needs to be emptied  out and bleached.

    • #36
  7. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @

    The roots of this problem are here:

    You have one life to live – live it as a blonde!

    You’ve come a long way baby!

    • #37
  8. user_473455 Inactive
    user_473455
    @BenjaminGlaser

    1) How did ignoring and sidelining the SoCons work out in 2008 and 2012?

    2) The GOP has always mockingly looked down upon the SoCons as “necessary evils” to win elections. What is the point of backing the GOP when they have never taken SoCons or their ideas seriously and are just mocked and derided by other cons?

    3) This is one of the reasons why I always call myself a Russell Kirk conservative. He rightly understood that a society which actively destroys the family is no society at all. Without the little platoons molding the barbarians born each day all the “political wins” will be pointless and empty.

    • #38
  9. user_477123 Inactive
    user_477123
    @Wolverine

    Can we get Weird Al to write a spoof song based on the old Neil Diamond song, Girl, You’ll be a Woman Soon” and change the title to “Bruce, You’ll be a Woman Soon”. Sorry, such poor taste on a Saturday night after a glass of wine.

    • #39
  10. Grendel Member
    Grendel
    @Grendel

    Z in MT
    Jim Geraghty describe the cultural issues of the day as: The Republicans are just fighting to keep the freedom to NOT care. The progressive culture won’t let people just go on with their lives and not take stands on social issues.

    You can no longer get away with saying, “Eh? Jenner turning into a woman? I think it is weird, but whatever.”

    No, you must celebrate Jenner’s transformation as affirmation of all that is good with society, or else.

    In other words, “You will be made to care.”

    Or else…
    =======
    Michelle O. told us that, back in 2008.
    “Barack will never allow yout to go back to your lIves as usual.”

    • #40
  11. tbeck Inactive
    tbeck
    @Dorothea

    EJHill:

    Robert Costa: In the four days since Bruce Jenner came out as a woman named Caitlyn, many Americans have celebrated her transformation as a courageous and even heroic act.

    Courage

    He’s a sick puppy. Would anyone wish to applaud and encourage the anorexic as they speed on their way towards their own personal destruction? Being tolerant of persons exhibiting mental illness does not exclude recognizing that someone is suffering from a condition for which they should seek treatment.

    • #41
  12. Jim Kearney Contributor
    Jim Kearney
    @JimKearney

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.:

    David Sussman:Sorry in advance as this won’t sit well for a some Ricochetti:

    As long as the Santorums and Huckabees run and win caucuses (ed. cauci?) as Republicans, the Left will gladly pervert their message to scare independents and squishes.

    Of course Conservatives have the right to not like cultural trends, but winning the Presidency will not reverse such trends (nor should a President want to focus on such). In fact, raising these issues in a political environment only hurts the cause. Our Rico bubble is far from representative of the general election voting block.

    The moment the GOP can get votes without pandering to the 700 Club is the moment they start winning national elections.

    I don’t view Santorum and Huckabee as good representatives of social conservativism today, nor to I think they have a chance in 2016. Ted Cruz is far more representative of the SoCon wing, IMHO. (Correct me if I’m wrong, Ricochetti, and I know you will.)

    I don’t want a candidate pandering to The 700 Club or anyone else, but I think any GOPer would be foolish not to work hard to win the votes of evangelicals, Catholics, LDS and every other American.

    Santorum, Huckabee, Carson, Cruz, Perry, and Walker are all targeting the SoCon niche. Maybe it’s time for a little counter-programming?

    What if the race for delegates is still competitive to the finish, like the last open Democrat campaign in 2008? A June California primary could wind up selecting the decisive delegation. And this ain’t Iowa!

    So far, not one Republican candidate has made an overture to the millions of voters who are put off by SoCon rhetoric. A word or two about respecting women’s reproductive choices and/or in support of loving same-sex partners would be a refreshing moment, good for the GOP brand, and a redeemable down payment on reaching out to the broader electorate.

    Yes, Jon, it is “foolish not to work hard to win the votes of … every other American” — including seculars, social libertarians, and moderate swing voters. Ultimately, it’s all about November 2016, not just Iowa.

    • #42
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