Paglia on the campaign
copied below the must-read first page of Camille Paglia’s four-webpage-long article
about the startling reversal in the campaign due to the advent of Sarah Palin. While deeply unsound intellectually, Paglia is gifted at describing personalities—particularly, in this instance, McCain. After the first page, the article becomes diffuse and less compelling.
Rip tide! Is the Obama campaign shooting out to sea like a paper boat?
- end of initial entry -
It’s heavy weather for Obama fans, as momentum has suddenly shifted to John McCain—that hoary, barnacle-encrusted tub that many Democrats like me had thought was full of holes and swirling to its doom in the inky depths of Republican incoherence and fratricide. Gee whilikers, the McCain vampire just won’t die! Hit him with a hammer, and he explodes like a jellyfish into a hundred hungry pieces.
Oh, the sadomasochistic tedium of McCain’s imprisonment in Hanoi being told over and over and over again at the Republican convention. Do McCain’s credentials for the White House really consist only of that horrific ordeal? Americans owe every heroic, wounded veteran an incalculable debt of gratitude, but how do McCain’s sufferings in a tiny, squalid cell 40 years ago logically translate into presidential aptitude in the 21st century? Cast him a statue or slap his name on a ship, and let’s turn the damned page.
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We need a new generation of leadership with fresh ideas and an expansive, cosmopolitan vision—which is why I support Barack Obama and have contributed to his campaign. My baby-boom generation—typified by the narcissistic Clintons—peaked in the 1960s and is seriously past it. But McCain, born before Pearl Harbor, is even older than we are! Why would anyone believe that he holds the key to the future? And why would anyone swallow that preening passel of high-flown rhetoric about “country above all” coming from a seething, short-fused character whose rampant egotism, zigzagging principles, and currying of the gullible press were the distinguishing marks of his senatorial career?
Having said that, I must admit that McCain is currently eating Obama’s lunch. McCain’s weirdly disconnected persona (beady glowers flashing to frozen grins and back again) has started to look more testosterone-rich than Obama’s easy, lanky, reflective candor. What in the world possessed the Obama campaign to let their guy wander like a dazed lamb into a snake pit of religious inquisition like Rick Warren’s public forum last month at his Saddleback Church in California? That shambles of a performance—where a surprisingly unprepared Obama met the inevitable question about abortion with shockingly curt glibness—began his alarming slide.
As I said in my last column, I have become increasingly uneasy about Obama’s efforts to sound folksy and approachable by reflexively using inner-city African-American tones and locutions, which as a native of Hawaii he acquired relatively late in his development and which are painfully wrong for the target audience of rural working-class whites that he has been trying to reach. Obama on the road and even in major interviews has been droppin’ his g’s like there’s no tomorrow. It’s analogous to the way stodgy, portly Al Gore (evidently misadvised by the women in his family and their feminist pals) tried to zap himself up on the campaign trail into the happening buff dude that he was not. Both Gore and Obama would have been better advised to pursue a calm, steady, authoritative persona. Forget the jokes—be boring! That, alas, is what reads as masculine in the U.S.
The over-the-top publicity stunt of a mega-stadium for Obama’s acceptance speech at the Democratic convention two weeks ago was a huge risk that worried me sick—there were too many things that could go wrong, from bad weather to crowd control to technical glitches on the overblown set. But everything went swimmingly. Obama delivered the speech nearly flawlessly—though I was shocked and disappointed by how little there was about foreign policy, a major area where wavering voters have grave doubts about him. Nevertheless, it was an extraordinary event with an overlong but strangely contemplative and spiritually uplifting finale. The music, amid the needlessly extravagant fireworks, morphed into “Star Wars”—a New Age hymn to cosmic reconciliation and peace.
After that extravaganza, marking the 40th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s epochal civil rights speech on the Washington Mall, I felt calmly confident that the Obama campaign was going to roll like a gorgeous juggernaut right over the puny, fossilized McCain. The next morning, it was as if the election were already over. No need to fret about American politics anymore this year. I had already turned with relief to other matters.
Pow! Wham! The Republicans unleashed a doozy—one of the most stunning surprises that I have ever witnessed in my adult life. By lunchtime, Obama’s triumph of the night before had been wiped right off the national radar screen. In a bold move I would never have thought him capable of, McCain introduced Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska as his pick for vice president. I had heard vaguely about Palin but had never heard her speak. I nearly fell out of my chair. It was like watching a boxing match or a quarter of hard-hitting football—or one of the great light-saber duels in “Star Wars.” (Here are the two Jedi, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Qui-Gon Jinn, going at it with Darth Maul in “The Phantom Menace.”) This woman turned out to be a tough, scrappy fighter with a mischievous sense of humor. (cont.)
Posted by Lawrence Auster at September 10, 2008 11:30 AM | Send
“While deeply unsound intellectually, Paglia is gifted at describing personalities—particularly, in this instance, McCain. After the first page, the article becomes diffuse and less compelling.”
The rest of the article is compelling despite its diffuseness, because Paglia lays out her feminist credentials, her total commitment to feminism, and how excited she is as a feminist for Palin. Paglia is excited for what Palin is doing for feminism, to advance feminism:
Conservative though she may be, I felt that Palin represented an explosion of a brand new style of muscular American feminism. At her startling debut on that day, she was combining male and female qualities in ways that I have never seen before. And she was somehow able to seem simultaneously reassuringly traditional and gung-ho futurist. In terms of redefining the persona for female authority and leadership, Palin has made the biggest step forward in feminism since Madonna channeled the dominatrix persona of high-glam Marlene Dietrich and rammed pro-sex, pro-beauty feminism down the throats of the prissy, victim-mongering, philistine feminist establishment.