Alex Massie

Department of Trying Too Hard

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Travis Daub at Foreign Policy:

A couple weeks back, we pointed out that John McCain likes to refer to America as "She," a habit that I assume builds some linguistic distance between himself and Hillary Clinton. Hillary could never refer to America as "She," so McCain subtly infers that a president Clinton could never protect the country in the same way that a masculine figure could.

David Corn over at Mother Jones took the analysis a step further:

Could the implication be that Barack Obama is not quite American and that he is not interested in protecting our country, which the ad describes with the feminine pronoun. In other words, the half-black dude with a funny name--who might be a secret Muslim--can't protect her. Has Lee Atwater been resurrected? This smacks of the George H.W. Bush smear-tossing campaign against Michael Dukakis in 1988--but also of Hillary Clinton's claims that Obama is not yet ready to be commander in chief.

Yeah, or maybe it's simpler than that and people tend to refer to their countries as "she" rather than "he" all the time. Think Britannia, think Marianne, think of the Soviet "motherland". Think too, if you like, of the old Punch cartoons that portrayed a weeping, mournful Hibernia.

Indeed, the striking exception to this general rule is, hmm, Hitler's Germany with its rallying calls to protect the Fatherland.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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