Days after the 2008 announcement that Sarah Palin would be the Republican Vice Presidential candidate, Rush Limbaugh said of it: “We’re the ones with the babe on the ticket”. In this seemingly lighthearted quip, the puppet master of the Right made certain that women would remember their place in conservative politics – a place where they are to, at best, remain loyal witnesses aside their men at the podium, and at worst, be flaunted and totally objectified. The fact that this comment was tolerated without the slightest challenge only confirmed this status.
In The Propheteer, women, with the exception of Condi, “the Truth-bender,” receive little direct attention. This unfortunately parallels the place of women in conservative politics, where they represent fewer than 10 percent of the Republican House and Senate presence. This unspoken but glaring abuse of women is examined as both a male mindset and by several of the book’s characters’ direct actions toward the women in their lives.
Chapter II, “On Love”, designates “self-love” as the pinnacle of male adoration, as in, “Love gives not of itself, but takes what it pleases.” This is taken from a similar line in The Prophet, “Love gives naught but itself and takes naught but from itself.” Though it is contorted into the “insulated narcissism” that was the standard of the Bush Administration, love appears therein to justify one’s selfish desires.
This is played out in the very next chapter, “On Marriage”, as George advises Rudy Giuliani, the thrice-married good Catholic, as to how to best transition through marriages and disguise his affairs. Most details of George’s advice, whether it be charging your affair “upon the taxpayers” or incurring the hatred of your children, are taken from Giuliani’s real transgressions. The worst of which, in my opinion, was his announcement before media that he was separating from his second wife before he had bothered to inform her. George turns this shame into salient advice: “Burden her not with a face-to-face explanation, as of a man.”
Finally, in what is personally my favorite chapter, we find Mark Sanford in his quest for “Booty.” Ironically, this chapter began as an adaptation of the chapter “On Beauty” in The Prophet, but I just could not sustain any inspiration for George to speak on beauty. Mark Sanford’s absurd disappearance to meet his mistress in Buenos Aires made a poignant refitting. The unrepentant globetrotting adulterer, in his smug oblivion, carried on, as if no transgression had occurred, and only when faced with insurmountable evidence did he finally admit to the full landslide of his sins. What I simply loved about his eventual concessions was that he had also attached to women about nine other times during his married life, but he insisted that he had never been physically intimate, just “kissing” (as if he’s some middle-schooler on the prowl). Was there a better example of self-love as “the holy spirit of man?”