Dude, the president gave in to a girl!

Right-winger condemns Barack Obama for listening to the advice of women on Libya.

The decision to intervene in Libya was reportedly pushed by the "foreign policy Valkyries" of Obama's administration – Hillary Clinton, Samantha Power and Susan Rice. The Valkyries called on President Obama to ignore his doubts, and ignore the advice of the cautious Robert Gates. Careful readers may have noted something about this new breed of liberal hawk: none of them has a penis.

This has caused some consternation among commentators in the US. Writing in the National Review, an enjoyably right-wing magazine in the US, Mark Krikorian spelled out why the intervention had upset him.

Do you think Putin and A-jad and Chavez and the ChiComs are more afraid of Obama now? It was obvious to most of us that Hillary has more, uh, stones than Obama, but to have it confirmed so publicly for less attentive foreign goons means they're that much more likely to try to push us and see how The One responds.

Obama has no balls! But Clinton has. Perhaps that's why Bill played away from home! Hur, hur, hur. Krikorian then launches into the "I'm not sexist but . . ." part of his argument:

Before you send me any burning bras, the problem is not with women leaders – the enemies of the Virgin Queen and the Iron Lady can attest to that. The problem is not even with the president having strong female subordinates. Rather, Obama's pusillanimity has been hugely magnified by the contrast with the women directing his foreign policy and the fact that they nagged him to attack Libya until he gave in.

OK, so Krikorian is fine with women having positions of authority. The problem lies with Obama's spinelessness. Right? Wrong.

Maybe it's unfair and there shouldn't be any difference from having a male secretary of state do the same thing, but there is.

Essentially, his argument is: "Dude, the president gave in . . . to a girl."

According to Krikorian's logic, then, if Obama can be rolled over by a woman, he can be rolled over by anybody. At the next meeting of the G20, Putin will probably give the president a wedgie while Wen Jiabao runs away with his lunch money. So, remember: women, know your limits.

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David Cameron’s starter homes: poor policy, but good politics

David Cameron's electoral coalition of buy-to-let retirees and dual-earner couples remains intact: for now.

The only working age demographic to do better under the Coalition was dual-earner couples – without children. They were the main beneficiaries of the threshold raise – which may “take the poorest out of tax” in theory but in practice hands a sizeable tax cut to peope earning above average. They will reap the fruits of the government’s Help to Buy ISAs. And, not having children, they were insulated from cuts to child tax credits, reductions in public services, and the rising cost of childcare. (Childcare costs now mean a couple on average income, working full-time, find that the extra earnings from both remaining in work are wiped out by the costs of care)

And they were a vital part of the Conservatives’ electoral coalition. Voters who lived in new housing estates on the edges of seats like Amber Valley and throughout the Midlands overwhelmingly backed the Conservatives.

That’s the political backdrop to David Cameron’s announcement later today to change planning to unlock new housing units – what the government dubs “Starter Homes”. The government will redefine “affordable housing”  to up to £250,000 outside of London and £450,000 and under within it, while reducing the ability of councils to insist on certain types of buildings. He’ll describe it as part of the drive to make the next ten years “the turnaround decade”: years in which people will feel more in control of their lives, more affluent, and more successful.

The end result: a proliferation of one and two bedroom flats and homes, available to the highly-paid: and to that vital component of Cameron’s coalition: the dual-earner, childless couple, particularly in the Midlands, where the housing market is not yet in a state of crisis. (And it's not bad for that other pillar of the Conservative majority: well-heeled pensioners using buy-to-let as a pension plan.)

The policy may well be junk-rated but the politics has a triple A rating: along with affluent retirees, if the Conservatives can keep those dual-earner couples in the Tory column, they will remain in office for the forseeable future.

Just one problem, really: what happens if they decide they want room for kids? Cameron’s “turnaround decade” might end up in entirely the wrong sort of turnaround for Conservative prospects.

Stephen Bush is editor of the Staggers, the New Statesman’s political blog.