Thursday, January 24, 2008

Man of the House

I'm back from the black hole, and so maybe this year, my opinions will flow more frequently.

Each Thursday morning before dawn I try to meet up with a group of guys -- our men's fraternity -- to talk about manly topics. It affords us the time to encourage each other, to talk about what man-life is like in this modern world, where a woman is running for President of The United States.

Today, we spoke about the role of a man as a leader, and specifically being the leader in his home. This implies, naturally, that leadership is assigned primarily to one individual: the husband. The role of the wife, according to our model, is that of helper. Now, before you delete this post, hear me out a bit longer. Both parties are created equal, but for the health of the marriage and relationship, our premise is that one has to be the leader and one the helper.

As guys, our biggest struggle with being leaders in our own homes was with our wives. This was a unanimous position by the small group of men huddled around coffee and cinnamon danish. Each of us put our wife in the category of A-type personality. We all felt that in theory -- at least in heart -- our wives wanted us to take the leadership role in the home and the relationship. However, if we somewhere along the line, through our own passivity, gave it up, how can we get it back? More coffee, please. This is a challenging question.

Nationally, it appears that we have a compadre in former President Bill Clinton. Once the leader of our country, he publicly failed as a role model family leader. Now we see how his very A-type, intelligent wife, Senator Hillary Clinton, has managed to take that leadership position and run with the ball. Her end zone: The White House. For her it's the game of the century; a brass ring or nothing. No more second chances.

Unfortunately, for him, he's destined for second place, now during her campaign, and in the White House, if she wins. When a man gives up the lead role in a marriage, how does he gain it back with grace and authority, especially when its so very public?

It seems for Bill Clinton, you do it by aggressively attacking anyone who might put your wife's potential [Presidential] leadership at risk. Lately, it is confusing whether Mr. Clinton is supporting his wife, or supporting his own delusion that he is a leader. Poor Barack Obama. He does not know if he should position himself as a leader man-to-man or man-to-woman.

Is this leadership play by Mr. Clinton going to work for him, or be a disaster for both he and the Mrs. in their already dubious relationship? I won't even bother to guess what Hillary's campaign strategists are saying, but it seems to me that leadership, influence and authority might best be reintroduced through more subtle channels. And, our former president might do himself and all men a favor if he would deeply ponder how this situation came about.

As America had to live through the marital struggles of Bill and Hillary while they were in the White House, we may have to live through it again during their attempt to return home. Who is driving the car on this hopeful trip to Washington, anyway? It's a human script perfect for newspapers, news radio and television, without any help from striking writers.

My little men's fraternity is investing more into prayer than political posturing as we address this topic of being a man and a leader. I for one wonder if Bill Clinton, or any other man, can last long in the role as helper to a wife who is leader. What would Adam and Eve say?

Have we come a long way, or have we strayed a long way off?