Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama — the right denounced all of them as wimps at one time or another. While none of them ended up with the blood of 58,000 soldiers on his hands in an effort to prove it wasn’t true, I do wonder whether Obama’s pointless first-term Afghanistan troop “surge” was motivated to a significant extent by fear of being tarred as a dove in the run-up to re-election.
Would the GOP be less inclined to accuse a female president of weakness? I suppose it’s possible, if the Democrats manage to persuade the media (and its donor base) to view “the Hillary wimp factor” as yet another front in the Republicans’ ongoing “war on women.”
But it’s also possible that the sexist stereotypes that continue to linger in our culture will do the work for the GOP without anyone in the party having to say a thing — especially if the first female president bobbles a foreign policy crisis in her first term.
Would the urge to disprove the sexists inspire this president into a Johnson-like act of overcompensation? Of course it’s impossible to say — both because we can’t know the circumstances ahead of time and because there are always multiple motives in any such executive decision.