Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Paglia on Al Gore as The Mamma's Boy From Hell?

As one of the few thoughtful Democrats remaining with some centrist credibility, Camille Paglia raps Democratic knuckles in a new Salon article up called "Don't Run, Al, Don't." Paglia packs zingers for just about every Dem presidential candidate, not excluding Hillary.

But she reserves her most scathingly probing commentary for Al Gore:
"Nevertheless, Hillary's abundant negatives don't make a Gore candidacy any more attractive. Sure, all the ├╝ber-journalists who've mixed with Gore are dazzled by him. Big deal! Personal charm and a silver tongue in private don't make a president, who must be a public performer on the world stage. Whatever his high ideals, Gore is a mass of frustrated yearnings and self-defeating vacillation. Raised in a bubble of wealth and privilege, he has never fully emerged from his senator father's judgmental shadow. Women (wife, daughters, wifty hired hands) have to buck him up and prod him in this direction or that.

"What exactly were Gore's achievements in his eight years as vice president? What steps did he take at the time to shape public policy on global warming? What did the Clinton administration do to win U.S. adoption of the Kyoto accords? (Answer: next to nothing.) What political role did Gore play in the world after leaving office? There are some mighty big blanks in Gore's record.

"As a global warming agnostic, I dislike the way that Gore's preachy, apocalyptic fundamentalism has fomented an atmosphere of hysteria around this issue and potentially compromised the long-term credibility of environmentalism. Democrats who long for his return as the anti-Hillary may not realize how Gore has become a risible cartoon character for much of the country at large. Anyone who listens to talk radio has been repeatedly regaled by clips of Gore bizarrely going off the deep end at one speech or another. And Gore, far worse than Hillary, is the Phantom of a Thousand Accents -- telegraphing his supercilious condescension to whatever audience he's trying to manipulate.

But Hillary still came in for a drubbing by the relentlessly perceptive Camille:
...TV pundits who rushed to proclaim Hillary the winner of the second debate were off by a mile. Hillary excelled in the first half by the greater specificity of her responses, but her gains were nearly wiped out at one point by her bone-chilling mirthless chuckling (like a sound effect for the Blood Countess in a horror film).

In the second half, when everyone was seated, she overplayed her hand and began to intrude and domineer. The men sank into passive torpor. What was surfacing in Hillary was the old family psychodrama of the bright, brittle, high-achieving daughter contemptuously outflanking her befuddled, resentful, mediocre brothers at the dinner table. It wasn't a pleasant sight -- and all too reminiscent of the bullying Rosie O'Donnell compulsively hogging the spotlight on "The View."

When Joe Biden tried to break out of captivity by boldly addressing the live audience with a foot-stomping crescendo (nearly a Howard Dean moment in the crazily strident way it played on TV), Hillary unwisely tried to match him by instantly raising her voice and keeping it at that abrasive level for the rest of the debate -- thus losing the capital she'd gained in the first half.

Paglia thinks the Republicans sparkled in comparison:
The second Republican debate, in contrast, overflowed with spontaneous energy. Yes, the contenders are all middle-aged white men, but they sure know how to give and take a punch! There was drama, humor and electricity (literally, when a bolt of lightning cut out Giuliani's mike). I continue to be alarmed at what I perceive as Republican momentum toward next year's national election. The confident Republican foregrounding of military and security issues is going to present a very high hurdle to the Democratic nominee. Democrats are already acquiring a dismaying reputation for underestimating the threat of global terrorism.

But might Hillary be the inevitable Democratic candidate anyway?
Despite her problems with projecting a consistent or even human character, Hillary has certainly proved thus far that a woman can play in the big league in American electoral politics. She's resoundingly surpassed the first serious woman candidate for president, Elizabeth Dole, who took to wandering like an officious inspirational speaker through the audience, a bold tactic that quickly became cloying. In the two major debates thus far, Hillary has projected mental alertness and speed, as well as a wide-ranging knowledge of public policy.

For many Democrats like me, however, Hillary's history of prevarication, rigidity and quasi-divine sense of election is profoundly unsettling. And who exactly would be running the government -- that indefatigable buttinski, Bill Clinton? Spare us! But Hillary's intricate experience with the Washington bureaucracy makes Edwards (toward whom I've been leaning) and Obama (whom I may shift to) look like shaky tyros. After eight years of managerial ineptitude under Bush, will the general electorate realistically choose a work-in-progress like Edwards or Obama who needs so steep a learning curve?

Paglia finishes her observations on Hillary, Gore, and the Democrats with a fresh perspective on the Anthropogenic Global Warming indoctrination campaign, reminding us that there is depth-of-field in her optic on this quasi-religious cavalcade of hysterical inaccuracies:
Toronto's National Post has been running a fascinating series by Lawrence Solomon [free subscription] on global warming dissidents, who don't get much press in the U.S. My own philosophy about earth's titanic, humanity-dwarfing operations is contained in a curious video I recently found on YouTube.com. Clips of volcanic eruptions and magma flows are set to the abstract "psychedelic" music of a California rock group, the Danbury Shakes. This eerie fusion of lurid natural images with a distorted, clashing soundscape is richly evocative of a 1960s vision that has been lost. The '60s revolution, as I've argued elsewhere, was about much more than politics. Fanaticism about global warming reduces the eternal terrors of nature to a banal political melodrama.

Paglia is always controversial and seldom disappoints when displaying her quirky eclectic views on politics and the fads of the moment. But her trenchant takes on Al Gore and Hillary Clinton have a special bite, as she remains a practicing Democrat who is constantly dismayed by her party of choice.

1 comment :

Sean said...

Great article. I enjoyed reading it.

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