The Alpha-Alpha Male Strategy

Burt Likko

Pseudonymous Portlander. Homebrewer. Atheist. Recovering Republican. Recovering Catholic. Recovering divorcé. Editor-in-Chief Emeritus of Ordinary Times. Relapsed Lawyer, admitted to practice law (under his real name) in California and Oregon. On Twitter, to his frequent regret, at @burtlikko. House Likko's Words: Scite Verum. Colite Iusticia. Vivere Con Gaudium.

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121 Responses

  1. What you see in that article is someone with an uncanny, nay superhuman understanding of female psychology.

    Maybe if they shot a few videos of Mitt doing shirtless pushups on a huge pile of money?Report

    • BlaiseP in reply to Russell Saunders says:

      Now if only Romney could make any inroads with Persons of Colour. I can see him going down and getting fitted for a Big Money Grille and a fat ol’ chain.

      I can see it now. Li’l Wayne, make way. It’s Big Willard in da house! Representin!Report

        • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Jaybird says:

          Poll question for single women: Would you prefer a Democratic president or a Republican husband?

          {In 2008, unmarried women, one of the nation’s fastest-growing demographic groups, were a key to Barack Obama’s presidential win.
          They broke for the Democratic senator from Illinois over Republican Sen. John McCain, 70 percent to 29 percent; married women preferred McCain, 50 percent to 47 percent.}

          • Anne in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

            Having just left the ranks of Singledom a democratic president and a Libertarian husbandReport

              • Jason Kuznicki in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                Which one?Report

              • Heh. If Bill Clinton were pro-life, he’d be positively Romney-esque. [The Current Occupant, not so much.]Report

              • North in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                Odd, Clinton was pretty pro-gay whereas Romney is toeing the hard anti-gay line. I hear that one of his minions participated in yanking even the idea of lukewarm support for civil unions out of the GOP platform a day or two ago. So much for the focus being on protecting the sanctity of marriage.
                Also Clinton raised taxes and lowered deficits, two things Romney hasn’t come close to endorsing (though Obama hasn’t either mind).Report

              • Tom Van Dyke in reply to North says:

                On the gay thing, Clinton did Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and signed the Defense of Marriage act. The GOP would be happy with that status quo ante about now.

                Clinton signed welfare reform. I’m not even going to litigate that one. The status quo ante will suit a Romney Administration fine.

                As for Clinton’s neo-liberalism, no, President Obama’s heart is not into neo-liberalism. Bill Clinton was a friend of business and had no hard-on against “the rich.”

                My point being—and I think it holds, Mr. North—is that aside from the pro-life angle, Mitt Romney is more in the Clinton zone that Barack Obama is.

                And if you recall any of my previous writings, I’m not saying this for effect or election 2012 points. I have spoken well of Bill Clinton’s “neo-liberal” presidency for years. Disagreed on this or that, but Bill Clinton would beat Romney or Obama one-on one or in a three-way race. That’s just the fact.

                [In a three-way race, Obama would come in last, needless to say.]Report

              • North in reply to North says:

                Oh come on Tom, that’s sophistry. Clinton settled for DADT because he set out to make open gay service in the military and it blew up in his face. DOMA I’ll give you but he did it because of political expediency, not because his policies or personal beliefs approved of it. He certainly didn’t advocate for it. I do believe you that the GOP would like the status quo, when you’re losing as badly as the GOP is on a subject wanting to lock things the way they are is a rational strategy.

                I think your point fails on multiple levels. Romney is hawkish and jingoish on foreign policy in a way Clinton never was (Clinton cuddled up to China for instance; Romney has promised to charge them with currency manipulation on day one AND invade Iran). Clinton never pursued the kind of ridiculous tax break based voodoo economics Romney has embraced (he raised taxes in case you forgot AND the world didn’t end). On social policies (all of them) Romney is pretty much Clinton’s opposite.

                Clinton is a singularly talented politician (a lot more talented than Obama admissibly*) but on policy he and Obama are much closer than he and Romney. I find it a little odd that you are trying to tie Romney’s clunker to a Democratic Party president’s record. Then again I suppose since tying Romney to the President he most resembles (the toxic Bush Minor) that makes some strategic sense.

                *I think Romney would come in last in a 3 way Obama Clinton Romney race if it were based on political talents. Obama doesn’t have the political skills of Clinton but he at least has principles. Romney has neither posessing as he does the Charisma of a run over cat and the principles of a weathervane.Report

              • Kimmi in reply to North says:

                try not to mistake Romney’s Keynesianism for actual foreign policy.Report

              • Tom Van Dyke in reply to North says:

                I’ll yield the DADT, Mr. North, but again, he quit on it quick. Clinton is quite the chameleon on plaid as well. I can easily see him being pro-life if the political weather required it.

                Economically, he’s neo-liberal like Romney is and Obama isn’t. As for Romney’s saber-rattling, Clinton did his share with Iraq as well.

                And implicit in the comparison was Romney’s flip-flops and political expediency as well, that he was pro-choice when the occasion called for it, and then of course there’s Romneycare.

                Like Clinton, he’s simply not as ideological as the Current Occupant.Report

              • Nob Akimoto in reply to North says:


                I still don’t understand Bill Clinton nostalgia. (Especially when people compare him favorably to Obama.)

                What exactly did he do that was so admirable? The man caved or otherwise sold out every valuable plank in the Democratic policy agenda, including failing to pass universal health care, signing DOMA and DADT into law, and making welfare perhaps more fiscally sound, but substantially less effective in curbing poverty.

                Add to it his foreign policy that needlessly antagonized Russia (and helped bring Putin to power), stood by idly while hundreds of thousands died in Rwanda and the Congo, more or less screwed the pooch during Yugoslavia’s disintegration and completely underestimated the threat of Al Qaeda and Bin Laden…

                …and well, I’m not seeing it.

                Other than just happening to be President during the dot com bubble’s hey-day, what was so great about William Jefferson Clinton?

                Folksy charm?Report

              • Kimmi in reply to North says:

                He’s white. Democratic, and did what any sane republican moderate would do.

                I GET why TVD is nostalgic for him. I don’t understand LIBERALS being terribly nostalgic for him.Report

              • North in reply to North says:

                Nob, I’d say a good part of it was that he was extremely good at what he did and he did it for us (us being liberals of course). I was only just coming of age politically but I was aware enough to get considerable amusement from watching how he’d execute his various political maneuvers and reduce his republican opponents to spittle frothing rage. The towering self righteous incredulity of the right at this time that they were somehow losing to the man repeatedly during this, their age of ascension, was also awfully gratifying.

                I can understand why you would not have liked Bill but as a centrist pretty much neoliberal I have deep policy fondness for him. Bill finally brought the Democratic Party into a more realistic position with regards to government finances. People to the left of me (you I suspect) would probably view this as regrettable but I think Clinton positioned the left in the role of adult in the room (though an argument could be made that by moving the Dems to the center Bill helped precipitate the Republicans plunge into right wing insanity). Personally I’m of the opinion that in the70’s and 80’s we started plumbing the practical edges of some left wing goals and Clinton was the one who brought the left back around into the viable practical middle. Keep in mind I’m a big fan of the Canadian Liberals who, under Cretchein, reigned in Canada’s leftward fiscally ruinous plunge and reformed the country into a more neoliberal economic dynamo (that’s also an awesome place to live). I think Obama is awfully close to Clinton on policy, he just lacks the political finesse to pull off being center left while convincing lefties that he’s one of them.

                Tom, we’ll have to agree to disagree on some of these. Perhaps Romney is just lying through his teeth on domestic policy but if he’s a weathervane like he seems to be then that means he’d defer to Congress on what happens if he’s elected (and with Ryan as Veep that seems especially likely) so based on that we can presume huge tax cuts, deep cuts to safety nets, no movement on social security or medicare and sky rocketing deficits and defense spending.
                I’d submit also that after the execrable terms of Bush the lesser that Republicans aren’t allowed to claim any benefit of a doubt when it comes to saber rattling. When you hear them kvetching about how Obama is finally extricating us from their morasses you get the distinct feeling that the right would love to plunge back into another middle ages backward country and spend billions chasing RPG and IED armed peasants around the rocks with helicopters and tanks.Report

              • James Hanley in reply to North says:

                more or less screwed the pooch during Yugoslavia’s disintegration

                I was under the impression that he stepped in and ended the civil war after our European allies had screwed the pooch. I’m not very sympathetic to his acting unilaterally in the face of congressional opposition, but the outcome in the Balkans was superior to the situation at the time he got engaged.

                I’m assuming you don’t have any particular preference for an intact Yugoslavia.Report

              • NewDealer in reply to North says:


                I think a lot of Clinton nostalgia comes from these reasons:

                1. The economy was very good during the Clinton years . I think a lot of people were economically anxious even during the height of the Bush II housing bubble.

                2. In hindisght, the culture wars seemed much calmer.

                3. Politics seemed less gridlocked and hyperpartisan despite the 1994 Congressional Elections, the government shutdown, and the Impeachment farce.

                Mainly I think it is nostalgia for the Clinton era economyReport

              • BobbyC in reply to North says:

                North – agreed on Romney being way more hawkish. He is nothing like Romney there. Economically they both have a clue, which is at least part of Tom’s point. As for Clinton being so singularly talented, I don’t buy it. He said he didn’t inhale, trotted out his wife doing health care reform, totally misread the Congress on DADT, and invited Republicans / Newt to treat him like a wimp in his first term. And let’s note that he failed to win 50% of the electorate in both presidential campaigns, which is the only way that he is “singular” as a President.

                Nob – the good thing about Clinton (and I was no particular fan and still do not respect him as a man) was that he had good economic policy. He had Summers and Rubin, who knew what they were doing and convinced him to pursue fiscal prudence to bring down interest rates. Summers is still the smartest guy in the room most days of his life at Harvard no less. Rubin understood Wall St and the bond market. I don’t think he got much done on domestic policy (maybe welfare reform), but his economic policy worked. Even the tax increases were distinctly post-Reagan moves. He had the wind at his back for sure, but he didn’t screw it up and probably helped. If people think they can say the same about Obama’s policy, then they will be confused, but witness the ex-Obama supporters who know better: Jamie Dimon and now Mort Zuckerman. Businesses people know that govt regulatory and fiscal policy is stifling growth.Report

          • Kimmi in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

            Well, I’m married, but my answer hasn’t changed, and wont’ change. Democratic President.Report

        • Matty in reply to Jaybird says:

          Oh dear Lord, why? I didn’t think it was possible for that line to be more cringe inducing.Report

  2. Stillwater says:

    They can’t help themselves, can they? Over-zealous conservatives, I mean. If it wasn’t so toxic around these parts, I’d remind certain readers of Corey Robin’s thesis about the role SWM privilege plays in shaping conservative’s social and political views. But I won’t.Report

  3. Jaybird says:

    This reads like someone attempting satire. I mean, sure, it also contains a handful of earnestly thought (or felt, anyway) positions (but satire does).

    The weirdness, for me, is how it reads like satire that someone from the other side would make.Report

    • Kimmi in reply to Jaybird says:

      I wouldn’t put it past certain factions to troll.
      But it’s one thing to put out McCain girls, and KNOW that they’ll get publicity because of “fair and balanced”.
      Getting the national review to publish something? Dat’s a bit tougher.Report

    • Ryan Noonan in reply to Jaybird says:

      I think this is exactly right. To paraphrase some of your comments in the past, now when someone says a conservative has never argued this, we can point out that a conservative has argued this.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Ryan Noonan says:

        Well, to point out that Swift argued for baby food is to misunderstand Swift’s proposal. That said, I don’t have much of an idea what this person is *REALLY* arguing underneath the snark.

        I mean, you read “Modest Proposal” and you come away wanting to argue English/Irish policy.

        This? You read this and you think “no wonder Romney is behind in the double digits”… and then you look and say “yep, NRO” and you’re left merely thinking “what the aitch-iee-double-toothpicks?”Report

        • James Hanley in reply to Jaybird says:

          Are you sure he’s not arguing just what it appears on the surface that he’s arguing?Report

          • Jaybird in reply to James Hanley says:

            Then, truly, we are in crazytown.Report

            • James Hanley in reply to Jaybird says:

              Truly, because as far as I can make out, that is actually the most plausible reading of the article. That is, I can’t figure out what else he would really be trying to say, since it doesn’t have the feel of tongue-in-cheek.

              And for whatever reason, I just went to re-read it and the pages suddenly went off-line as I was reading it, mere seconds ago.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to James Hanley says:

                it doesn’t have the feel of tongue-in-cheek

                Really? I could see the exact same article, word-for-word, showing up on (insert democratic partisan lefty site here) tagged as “humor”.Report

              • Ryan Noonan in reply to Jaybird says:

                That’s the problem, right? It sounds like a joke a liberal would make about a conservative… So, it’s a conservative joking about what liberals think about conservatives? I’m not sure what that represents.Report

              • Burt Likko in reply to Ryan Noonan says:

                If it were (had been?) that, don’t you think there would have been a signal to that effect, like “Mother Jones Magazine’s Advice To Mitt Romney”?Report

              • Ryan Noonan in reply to Burt Likko says:

                I do, which is why I don’t think it’s a joke. At least not a satirical joke. More like an “Isn’t it funny how…?” joke.Report

              • LauraNo in reply to Burt Likko says:

                The commenters are taking it at face value, they seem to be familiar with the author. For whatever *that’s* worth.Report

              • MFarmer in reply to Burt Likko says:

                Could it be that socialists don’t get conservative humor?Report

              • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Burt Likko says:

                So you’re saying the NRO is now

                I’ll take them that seriously, then.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Burt Likko says:

                Oh, come on! Don’t insult Cracked like that! It’s the only reason I posted 500 times a day this summer… instead of the 1000 that my free time would have otherwise allowed me to.Report

              • James Hanley in reply to Jaybird says:

                Yes, on a lefty site, mocking conservatives. But that’s not where it is. It’s on a conservative site, and it’s awfully heavy-handed for self-mockery.

                I’ll backpedal a bit, though. I think it sounds like one of those things that is perhaps intended to be kinda-sorta tongue-in-cheek while being serious about the underlying point. A case where the writer thinks they’re being clever because he and his buds were totally laughing as they joked about this last night. And only later comes to realize was probably way too much of an in-joke to put out in public. But still deep down believes the essential gist of it is true.

                As for me, the only part I found myself agreeing with was: “It’s a good thing Mitt Romney doesn’t hang out in college bars.”

                I think we can all agree that is, indeed, a good thing.Report

              • If Mitt Romney were to say…

                Some people want to score political points on me by saying I’m rich and out of touch. I say, let ’em. Here, I’ll help you: I’ve done quite well in my private career. Yes, I had a better start in life than a lot of other people get. I’ve made a lot of money. I can enjoy a very comfortable lifestyle, and I can provide a very comfortable lifestyle for my family because of it. I’m not going to apologize for any of that. That’s what America is about — working hard, getting ahead, passing it on to your kids so they can have an even better life than you did. That’s what I want for every single American family out there, and that’s why I’m running for President.

                …that would defuse the awkwardness of readily-mocked video of the Brahmin candidate carrying a pail of “hardware stuff”
                with an awkward smile indicating that, in fact, the man had quite clearly never before in his life been in a hardware store.

                And the GOP wouldn’t have to make an appeal to undecided women voters’ loins that looks like it was written by Roissy in D.C., a blogger whose departure from the Intertubes has elicited exactly zero tears.Report

              • trizzlor in reply to Burt Likko says:

                Jesus, nothing says “ordinary joe” like lugging your hardware stuff into the backseat of your chauffeured Escalade, at least Scott Brown drove a pickup to his photo ops.Report

              • dexter in reply to Jaybird says:

                I gotta agree with Jaybird on this one. I had to look twice to make sure I hadn’t been sent to the Onion. But, when I remember how hot Ryan is I start to think that the piece is serious and go whoa.Report

  4. Sam says:

    Shorter: “Fap, fap, fap, fap, FAP!”Report

  5. Kyle Cupp says:

    You all have no respect for evolution. Adoration of the the top dog Patriarch is EVOLUTION people!Report

  6. James Hanley says:

    I just threw up a little in my mouth.Report

  7. Kazzy says:

    This manages to offend on so many levels.Report

  8. Chris says:

    National Review appears to have removed whatever it was that inspired this post. Apparently they realized that it wasn’t going to help their case, too.Report

  9. b-psycho says:

    It’s not like we’re going to forget it. C’mon, NRO coating patriarchy & elitism in a pseudo- (that is, what people who obviously don’t listen to any rap music think of when someone mentions it) hiphop culture* shell and actually thinking it’s an argument rather than a joke?

    (* – not that there isn’t plenty of wealth and sexual prowess worship in it: there is. But there’s a contextual difference between a held down on average groups cartoon-ish mimic of the ruling class & members and spokespersons of that class saying “yeah, we’re like that, yo!”. )Report

    • MFarmer in reply to b-psycho says:

      “(* – not that there isn’t plenty of wealth and sexual prowess worship in it: there is. But there’s a contextual difference between a held down on average groups cartoon-ish mimic of the ruling class & members and spokespersons of that class saying “yeah, we’re like that, yo!”. )”

      What language is this?Report

  10. joey jo jo says:

    better “satire”: the Williamson piece or this by Pareene:

  11. Kyle Cupp says:

    They took it down? I can still access it. And its the COVER article of the print mag!Report

  12. trizzlor says:

    I don’t believe NR has taken this article down, as it is their cover piece for the digital issue (I think their site is just experiencing unrelated down-time).

    Side note: I think Williamson generally writes interesting articles and is intellectually honest, though this could just be because he’s not a nut on culture like most of the NRO. But he has professed to writing a book for which the basic premise is “Profits are not deductions from the sum of the public good, but the real measure of the social value a firm creates. Those who talk about the horror of putting profits over people make no sense at all. The phrase is without intellectual content.“. Which is about as concise a definition of “glibertarian” as you can get.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to trizzlor says:

      You know who else used articles completely unrelated to libertarian thought as an opportunity to take shots at libertarians…Report

    • MFarmer in reply to trizzlor says:

      “But he has professed to writing a book for which the basic premise is “Profits are not deductions from the sum of the public good, but the real measure of the social value a firm creates. Those who talk about the horror of putting profits over people make no sense at all. The phrase is without intellectual content.“. Which is about as concise a definition of “glibertarian” as you can get.”

      How so?Report

      • BlaiseP in reply to MFarmer says:

        Three views of a corporation:

        1. The view held by stockholders.
        2. The view held by the workers.
        3. The view held by the customers.

        In a perfect world, 1 and 2 are closely aligned, making 3 happy by producing goods and services. But in R-Money’s world, 1 is the only viewpoint worth considering.

        It’s not Profits over People. That’s a silly, hurtful phrase. And it’s wrong, too, for the Glibertarian does care about people. The people who matter are the stockholders, but the Glibertarian really is a dense, short-sighted thing. You see, if we listen to the Glibertarian, we will be told 2 and 3 don’t matter and anyone who thinks they do is a Goddamn Socialist.

        Now in the real world, that is to say, the one where money’s actually made by convincing customers to fork over money to be delighted by excellent products and not by shitty stock manipulation or fucking the customers with melamine in the milk, 3 is the most important viewpoint.

        So now you know. When folks say Profits over People, conservo-libertarians, tell ’em an old Liberal taught you how to fight back that weepy ol’ shibboleth. Glibertarians do care about people. Just not workers. Or customers.Report

      • trizzlor in reply to MFarmer says:

        Blaise pretty much nailed it, though I’m not as convinced about the necessary distinction between “profits over people” and “stockholders over everyone else”. The fact that Williamson cannot even conceive of an instance where a profit-driven firm has negative social value is astounding, and it explains why he genuinely thinks flaunting wealth in such a cartoonish way could ever be an admirable trait.Report

  13. Jeff says:

    I think we’ve been “Poe”d.Report

  14. Kolohe says:

    My god, it’s full of plaid.Report

  15. That article made me embarrassed to be a man. Then I remembered that I’m gay, and suddenly everything was okay again.Report

  16. Mike Schilling says:

    Williamson would have been better off going the Domenech route and just stealing a PJ O’Rourke piece instead of trying to write one himself. It’s like when R. Emmett Tyrell tries to channel H. L. Mencken, and you realize that a random Neanderthal Man would be better at it.Report

  17. Nob Akimoto says:

    Well, NRO still has more female writers than we do…so they must be doing SOMETHING right with this alpha male stuff.Report

  18. NewDealer says:

    Dear People,

    The Onion is not a user’s manual to life.

    That is all.