How to characterize this new form of masculinity? In a word: ornamental.
Contemporary manliness is increasingly defined by display — in Mr. Trump’s case, a pantomime of aggrieved aggression: the curled lip, the exaggerated snarl. Display permeates his ratings-obsessed presidency. It’s why he chose his vice president (he “looks very good”) and his former defense secretary (“If I’m doing a movie, I’d pick you, general”). The chief executive of Newsmax, Chris Ruddy, noted of his friend Mr. Trump’s inclinations, “It’s more about the look and the demeanor and the swagger.”
Ornamental manhood is the machismo equivalent of “I’m not a doctor but I play one on TV.” Or, in the boogaloo movement’s version, “I’m not actually a soldier but I wear camo and walk around downtown with my big gun.” (In Mr. Trump’s case, it’s “I’m not a successful builder but I played one on ‘The Apprentice.’”)
The great shame is not that Mr. Trump brought an anachronistic masculinity into the Oval Office, but that he used the Oval Office to market a very modern brand of compensatory manhood — with a twist.