Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Camille Paglia: A Fair & Balanced Critique of Sarah Palin

After the absolute train wreck that was Heather Mallick's embarrassing hate piece on the CBC website, it was a refreshing change to read this interesting column by Camille Paglia. Ms. Paglia is an unabashed Obama supporter and an ardent feminist. Unlike the aforementioned CBC hack, Paglia can think outside of the painted lines of her general political doctrine and has taken the time to do so. Among other important issues, she has carefully thought about the morality arguments on both sides of the abortion debate.

Here are some key segments from her column that will stick with me for a long time:

My baby-boom generation -- typified by the narcissistic Clintons -- peaked in the 1960s and is seriously past it. . . . 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. . . . Having said that, I must admit that McCain is currently eating Obama's lunch. . . . [The Saddleback Church] performance -- where a surprisingly unprepared Obama met the inevitable question about abortion with shockingly curt glibness -- began his alarming slide.

Conservative though she may be, I felt that [Sarah] Palin [represents] an explosion of a brand new style of muscular American feminism. . . . a woman candidate for president of the U.S. must show a potential capacity for military affairs and decision-making. . . . As a dissident feminist, I have been arguing since my arrival on the scene nearly 20 years ago that young American women aspiring to political power should be studying military history rather than taking women's studies courses, with their rote agenda of never-ending grievances.

Over the Labor Day weekend, with most of the big enchiladas of the major media on vacation, the vacuum was filled with a hallucinatory hurricane in the leftist blogosphere, which unleashed a grotesquely lurid series of allegations, fantasies, half-truths and outright lies about Palin. What a tacky low in American politics -- which has already caused a backlash that could damage Obama's campaign. When liberals come off as childish, raving loonies, the right wing gains.

It is certainly premature to predict how the Palin saga will go. I may not agree a jot with her about basic principles, but I have immensely enjoyed Palin's boffo performances at her debut and at the Republican convention, where she astonishingly dealt with multiple technical malfunctions without missing a beat. A feminism that cannot admire the bravura under high pressure of the first woman governor of a frontier state isn't worth a warm bucket of spit.

[Sarah Palin's brand of feminism is] a world away from the whining, sniping, wearily ironic mode of the establishment feminism represented by Gloria Steinem . . . Feminism, which should be about equal rights and equal opportunity, should not be a closed club requiring an ideological litmus test for membership. . . . Frontier women were far bolder and hardier than today's pampered, petulant bourgeois feminists, always looking to blame their complaints about life on someone else.

To automatically assume that she is a religious fanatic who has embraced the most extreme ideas of her local church is exactly the kind of careless reasoning that has been unjustly applied to Barack Obama, whom the right wing is still trying to tar . . . The witch-trial hysteria of the past two incendiary weeks unfortunately reveals a disturbing trend in the Democratic Party, which has worsened over the past decade. Democrats are quick to attack the religiosity of Republicans, but Democratic ideology itself seems to have become a secular substitute religion. Since when did Democrats become so judgmental and intolerant? Conservatives are demonized, with the universe polarized into a Manichaean battle of us versus them, good versus evil. Democrats are clinging to pat group opinions as if they were inflexible moral absolutes. The party is in peril if it cannot observe and listen and adapt to changing social circumstances.

Paglia's column is a long read but well worth it!

No comments: