The Senate race is all about sex. It is Supportive Mommy against Stern Daddy.
And the debate may make me amend my rule about how the most comfortable, confident and commanding person in the room always wins: Except when it’s a man against a woman and his “commanding” slips over into “condescending.”
Thom Tillis stood for the over-50 white male view of the world: It’s a tough place. I made it and so can you. Put on your big boy pants, get to work and don’t expect any damn handouts.
Kay Hagan replied: It is a tough world, big boy, but it’s a lot tougher than when you came up. And sometimes people need a hand.
He said: Business will do the right thing and solve our problems if government gets out of the way.
She said: Business is great, but it won’t always do the right thing, and that’s why we need government.
But what they said wasn’t the story. That was canned, rehearsed and predictable, as all the recaps noted. The story was how Tillis said it, calling her “Kay,” as in, “Kay’s math just doesn’t add up” and “she obviously didn’t read the budget.”
How many women thought: “It hate it when men talk to me that way”?
These psychological undertones make it hard for the media and pundits to deliver an instant analysis of a debate’s impact. People writing and talking on deadline focus on facts, substance and talking points. It’s hard – and it’s tricky – to gauge emotional reactions. Those take days to take hold in a campaign.
You can’t analyze the debate – or the race – without looking through the lens of the fundamental social, cultural and political divide in America today. Republicans target of old white men who are angry about the way things are going. Democrats target women and young men who are angry at the old white men.
The old white men took over in 2010. Now there’s a reaction building. The old white men are outnumbered, and their days are numbered.