The subtext to Scott Brown’s election.
There’s lots of reason Scott Brown won Teddy Kennedy’s old Senate seat this week — health care reform, cap-and-trade, the deficit, exasperation with Democratic rule. But there’s one other that shouldn’t be missed — he ran as a guy and it’s OK to be a regular guy again.
A month ago in a column called “Put Men Back to Work” I wrote that taking up the cause of unemployed men should be a major campaign issue of the 2010 election. I also said I thought Sarah Palin was the only candidate who could handle the issue because it would seem too hard-edged coming from a man. I was wrong. Although Brown didn’t say it in so many words, the message came through loud and clear — ordinary guys have a place in this world outside beer commercials.
First there was the truck. Ah, the truck. Could anything have been more politically incorrect? It wasn’t some fuel-sipping Honda Civic or even a gas-electric hybrid. Brown didn’t spend time talking about gas mileage. It was just a work-a-day truck built to get you someplace and do the job.
And wasn’t it amazing how, when President Obama arrived in Massachusetts to try to save Martha Coakley’s neck, he couldn’t stop talking about that truck? “I’d be careful getting on that truck,” he said. “He parked his truck on Wall Street.” Obama mentioned it six times in his speech at Northeastern University.
Yet Brown had the perfect comeback. “I don’t mind when the President came in and criticized me,” he said the night of his celebration. “But when he starts criticizing my truck, that’s where I draw the line.”
In fact, the whole Brown campaign had a distinct beer-commercial flavor. A former juvenile delinquent, college basketball player, triathlete, and 20-year Army reservist, Brown didn’t mince words about sounding like something out of a Budweiser ad. “I can believe I’ve just won this election but I can’t believe I’m on the same stage with Doug Flutie,” he said on election night. Meanwhile, Martha Coakley continually embarrassed herself with her tone-deafness about guy things. Who is Curt Schilling? Why is it important to stand outside Fenway Park? Only a few months ago, she could have dismissed all this by arguing that Schilling and the truck and whole Red Sox Nation have a large carbon footprint. Not this time.
In truth, the comeback of men in this country is long overdue. Almost 75 percent of the job losses in the recession have been to men’s jobs. Women are about to pass men in the work force. All this can be interpreted as equality and progress on our forced march to a sexless society. Writing in Slate, Hanna Rosin called Brown’s victory “the angry man’s revenge against the rise of the working woman.” But that’s doesn’t even come close to understanding what’s going on. It’s time to take stock of exactly why so many men are unemployed.
Around New Year’s, the Huffington Post ran an article listing the “10 Industries That Will GAIN The Most Job Growth in Next Decade,” based on the latest forecast from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Here they are in order:
scientific and technical consulting services
2) Offices of physicians (i.e., looking up medical records)
3) Computer systems design and related services
4) General merchandise stores (Wal-Mart, etc.)
5) Employment services (i.e., unemployment offices)
6) Local government
7) Home health care services
8) Services for the elderly and persons with disabilities
9) Nursing care facilities
10) Full service restaurants
Does that sound like decline or what? At this rate we’ll soon have an entire economy based on pushing each other around in wheelchairs. (Note also that half these sectors get their entire income from the government.)
Even Huffington readers were appalled:
“The alarming things indicated by the growth of employment in these particular industries is that the USA seems to be winding down and the private sector will be decimated. Another matter is the obesity epidemic is very apparent and well represented.”
“Industries? What industries? Industries consist of PRODUCING, MANUFACTURING companies!”
“With all the minimum wage jobs leading the pack on growth industries, it is no wonder that winning the lotto is the number one way Americans feel they can get ahead in the future.”
“Hmmmm… they left out Debt counselor, Credit fixer, Poverty lifestyle expert, Shack builder, Electricity hookup improviser… Apple-seller.”
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?