Sexual Perversity in Philadelphia: How Michael Smerconish Frames the War on Terror

"I will screw him in the ass!"
George Bush telling Ariel Sharon what he would do once he caught Osama bin Laden

Bill Maher bitch-slapped the guy across the table without even realizing it. On HBO's Real Time, he said

"You know what George Bush's problem is? I figured this out a couple of weeks ago when Ann Coulter called John Edwards a faggot and I was like, 'What does that mean?' But it made me start thinking like they do, because John Edwards is not a gay man. But what she was saying was that democrats are pussies.

Bingo. With devastating accuracy, Maher nailed guest panelist Michael Smerconish on his shtick. "I often use the word 'sissification' or 'sissies,'' Smerconish once said. "What I'd really like to use is the 'P' word, but I'm not permitted to." But Maher kept on going:

"George Bush has seen too many prison movies. He thought - and this is what I mean about thinking like they do because I my thought was - why go into Iraq? That's not the country that attacked us. That doesn't make any sense.

"But see in the prison movie, you go into the prison, and you find the biggest baddest meanest son of a bitch and you beat him up. Except that we went in there and he beat us up and fucked us up the ass and now its a little hard for us to threaten Iran and Syria because we picked on the random guy and then we got our ass kicked."

For Smerconish, the prison movie mindset - which sexualizes the war on terror, and frames political debate as an "I'm-butch-and-you're-not" standoff - is not a problem. For this radio talk jock from Philadelphia, it is the solution. Which is why, for his "don't ask, don't tell" piece in HuffPost , he used the title, "Pace: A hard-on for Bin laden." You want to support the troops? Then support their prison movie, aka Abu Ghraib. Reacting to news of the torture and killing of two American soldiers in Baghdad, Smerconish said:

"It's a horrific story, and as I watch it unfold, I have to ask myself where are the people who worked themselves into a lather about the naked pyramid pictures at Abu Ghraib or those who wanted trials at The Hague because we played Christina Aguilera music a bit too loud for the detainees down at Gitmo."

He reacted the same way when Zacarias Moussaoui got life imprisonment instead of execution. "I can't buy into this logic of transcending hatred,' Smerconish argued. "This is the sissification of America." So maybe our troops aren't toughened up enough:

Caller: Hey Michael, I want to piggyback on what she said. Recruits now, they actually get issued what's called a stress card. And if -- it's amazing -- if the drill instructor is too harsh on them and they're being, quote, unquote "stressed out" -

Smerconish: Yeah.

Caller: -- they can pull their stress card out and put training on hold for 10 minutes.

Smerconish: Oh man, what -- what is it? Is it a pink card? Is it pink? Tell me.

Caller: I think it's pink. It might be pink or rainbow.

The bottom line, he argued on Bill O'Reilly's radio show, is that, "all this mamby-pamby, you know, limp-wristedness going on, on our domestic shores is compromising our ability to win the 'war on terror.'"

Yep, that's our problem with the war on terror. We are so much safer because our military violated the Geneva Conventions, and so much less safe because we didn't execute Moussaoui.

The more he talks the more Smerconish himself resembles his stereotypical "sissies" and "elites" who, like characters on Will & Grace, are too fussy, self involved and pretentious to cope with any real problems.

Here's a guy with a syndicated radio show and a column in a metropolitan newspaper. Yet he feels "muzzled" by some nonexistent PC police. As he told the Philadelphia Inquirer, his new book, Muzzled, is "a bit of a wake-up call. People have gotten too worked up over what used to be an irritant to our quality of life." Because "[v]iewed alone, you say, 'Big deal. There's a story and it was a wrong outcome, but who cares?'... That is the mind-set I'm trying to change."

Exactly. He want us to dwell on trivial attributes and imagined slights, because conservatives have no answers for the important stuff. Real men and women face up to real problems, instead limp wrists. Real men and women worry less about slamming sensitivity training and more about the Army's shortage of translators, armored vehicles, and leadership at the very top.

That's why commentators at Fox News dwelled on John Kerry's (non-existent) manicure and botox, while touting Bush as a strong leader. They distract us from the truth that Kerry is a genuine war hero and Bush went AWOL because his daddy pulled strings.

That's why Arnold Schwarzenegger called Democratic legislators "girly men" when he learned that governing California requires more than steroids and a bikini wax.

Or, as Bill Maher summed up, "what [Ann Coulter] was saying was that democrats are pussies." Except the reality is that John Edwards has a plan to tackle health care. Constructive ideas about real problems? Ann Coulter avoids them like a vampire facing a crucifix.

But don't get caught up in being offended by Smerconish's remarks. "And if you're offended by my use of that word [sissy], then you're exactly the person that I'm talking about..." You'd be playing into the hands of a scam artist.