Cool. Resolute. Polished.

    Watching John Boehner well up, I wonder what father would’ve thought of such displays. While it’s good the Speaker of the House is comfortable enough in himself to let tears roll at the drop of a charged moment, isn’t there something unnerving about the leader’s, uh, expressiveness?

    Or maybe it’s me. I reached manhood a generation before American society began deeming it swell for straight men to freely emote. In that respect I most resemble father, though nowhere near his stoicism. Nor that of his buddies with whom he’d shared similar experiences.

    After all, the man spent World War II disarming mines. Or as I’ve come to believe perfect training for raising a teen-age male.

    Aghast at the economic and budgetary contretemps wringing our nation in 2013, I don’t see the problem as necessary revenue versus determining vital expenditures and cutting accordingly. As long as there’s been a Republic that particular tension has existed. Rather, isn’t the boggle today’s actors?

    Instead of statesmen, past tribunes who for the greater part actually did put country first, Americans are now purposely confused and misled by the petulant, strident, immature and ideologically straitened. They hope to channel Aldo Ray but present themselves as Clifton Webb instead. These people are so rigid they’ve excised “compromise” and “accommodation” from their narrow vocabularies.

    Two useful concepts in a representative democracy such as ours purports being. Both of which the Disputatious Elements Wing of the Republican Party has dismissed.

    The fiscal arguments this rabble spews aren’t a phenomenon of our age. But the strength of the poison is. The vast majority allied with the GOP’s Disputatious Elements Wing have never been tested. An earlier gimlet-eyed citizenry would’ve regarded them facile at best, disreputable at worst. Few could’ve passed muster for positions of responsibility in an uncomplicated America. To then less informed, though more instinctively astute constituents, most candidates never could’ve been elected.

    A quarterly magazine clarifies this contrast. Sorry. Not one of those prestige journals short on photographs and long on thick tiny print. Nor a title whose highly visible, casual placement is meant to impress.

    Bachelor Pad Magazine. The humorless and frigid among us might skim the title, the quarterly’s pages, then conclude the contents glorify female objectification and harkens back to an ideal of male imperative above all else. That’s surface.

    But given so many marginal characters now explicitly exhibit themselves in order to snatch some chunk of brief attention and enlarge the ever bulging ranks of meaningless, short-lived celebrities, their “fame” from notoriety, not through appreciable talent, being objectified has lost its sting, hasn’t it? Much to the chagrin of feminism, objectification has become a worthwhile attribute. Done right, damn-skippy lucrative too! But veering from the well-trod path of prior sugary dreams like Faith Domergue, current next hot things dissolve into disposable vulgarity rather than create any whiff of lingering elegance.

    Yes, Bachelor Pad Magazine is an acquired taste. Under the pulchritude, wheezes and gags, hyper veneers, though, is an admirable self-confidence. Groomed to within an inch guys and insecure Lena Dunham types won’t populate these pages. Too much self-reflection for the first while insufficient self-esteem burdens the second.

    Four times a year the periodical pays homage to a surer, cooler, sharper America. After Korea, before the Sixties became a nightmare parade. Less advanced, nowhere near as inclusive, as well as prone to chauvinistic declarations yet a country where hindrance and selfishness weren’t lauded virtues. Like now.

    During extreme occasions, one almost yearns for returns to that truly modest place. Not Mayberry. Surprisingly more sophisticated precincts than we give credit to those who inhabited them. Looking back, the gray spectrum was certainly thinner because national certainty, our purpose, was less questioned. Relativism was rare, revisionism unknown.

    Of course those people behaved in that manner for good reason. They’d either defeated fascism or contained communism. The future was eagerly pursued rather than viewed with our anxiety. Sacrificing and investing in improved tomorrows weren’t debated as questionable outlays. Optimistic and thankful to have survived and thrived after humanity’s worst epoch, that bunch preferred to exalt than merely take stock, be grateful, and leave well enough alone.

    The sleek styles of their glad rags and conveyances emphasized that.

    They practiced a zest nearly alien in our querulous age. They’d earned it. Without a wink Bachelor Pad Magazine references the prior exuberance. Not nostalgically but with a sense of “Damn! See what we missed?”

    Which should make us regret this muddle of our own invention.