David Brooks Says President Obama Has a "Manhood Problem"

[Content Note: Gender essentialism; racism; misogyny.]

David Brooks continues to be the absolute worst:
New York Times columnist David Brooks on Sunday claimed that President Obama's foreign policy isn't "tough" and that he has a "manhood problem" in the Middle East.

Pivoting off Sen. Bob Corker's (R-TN) charge on NBC's Meet the Press that Russian President Vladimir Putin's actions in Ukraine have showed an "era of permissiveness" under Obama, later in the program, Brooks — while noting that he doesn't necessarily agree with the charge — said this issue extends to the Middle East:
BROOKS: Basically since Yalta we've had an assumption that borders are basically going to be borders and once that comes into question if in Ukraine or in Crimea or anywhere else, then all over the world all bets are off. And let's face it, Obama, whether deservedly or not, does have a — I'll say it crudely — but a manhood problem in the Middle East. Is he tough enough to stand up to somebody like Assad or somebody like Putin? I think a lot of the rap is unfair but certainly in the Middle East there is an assumption that he's not tough enough.
NBC's Chuck Todd agreed. "By the way, internally they fear this you know it's not just Corker saying it, questioning whether the president is being alpha-male," he said. "That's essentially saying 'he's not alpha-dog. His rhetoric isn't tough enough.'"
Leaving aside the evident issue that conservatives never think diplomacy and/or non-military interventions are "tough enough," because they favor an aggressive, militaristic foreign policy, this shit not only plays into gender essentialist narratives equating maleness with toughness, but also invokes a racist history of policing and questioning black male manhood, which has long written black men out of the stereotypical definitions of the "alpha male."

(I suspect if Brooks were obliged to address such criticism, there would be a whole lot of intent argumentation, but the point is not whether Brooks explicitly intended to invoke racist tropes. He did, and his intent is irrelevant.)

Meanwhile, I expect we will be hearing an increasing number of overt and thinly veiled gender essentialist attacks on the current president, as conservatives seek to preemptively discredit presumed candidate Hillary Clinton on the basis that she is not a man.

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