Monday, March 17, 2008

Camille Paglia Puts Hillary into Postfeminist Perspective

[In Pennsylvania] I saw the first Hillary signs going up this week: a thin, white-haired, but very determined elderly lady was trying to wrestle one into the ground near zipping traffic on a county highway. I thought, "Hmm ... Hillary's demographic?" Obama is certainly a darling of youth, the wave of the future. If he has failed thus far to reach working-class whites, it's because he's a dewy and somewhat reserved newcomer on the national stage. Ruggedly stumping Hillary, warts and all, is a known commodity. Obama's effect has been heaviest on the information class -- journalists, academics and white-collar professionals chained to computers and surfing the Web all day. He's been a flickering media phenomenon for everyone except attendees at his electrifying mass rallies. What's militated against Obama is simply time. The more he is known, the bigger his gains.

Obama (for whom I intend to vote) has the patrician elegance of John F. Kennedy, but JFK also campaigned with the raucous bravura and taunting raillery of a Boston Irishman. (His grandfather, "Honey Fitz" Fitzgerald, had been mayor of Boston.) Obama has seemed tentative in countering the Clintons' trademark mudslinging, but perhaps coolness and poise are what the nation needs after eight years of George W. Bush's lurching braggadocio. Obama hasn't figured out how to stay classy while delivering wicked stiletto thrusts -- a talent mastered in spades by British politicians produced by the Oxbridge debate culture.

Hundreds of years of parliamentary back-and-forth jeering [as I noted Sunday nite on C-Span as Gordon Brown fended off Liberal Democrats in heat and Conservatives in high dudgeon.] have given the Brits an ineffably literate [oxymoron alert] political culture which long hours spent perusing Hansard's serves to illuminate. Obama's understated charm has thus far offset the overbearing trash-talk that Bubba J. Philanderer and his spouse have thrown in BHO's direction. Camille notes:
Hillary, her shrill voice much improved and lowered through brutal overstrain, has certainly gained confidence and performance skill on the campaign trail, but I still don't trust her. The arrogant, self-absorbed Clintons have shown their unscrupulous hand to all who have eyes to see. Yes, Hillary may know the labyrinthine flow chart of the Washington bureaucracy, but her peripheral experiences as a gallivanting first lady scarcely qualify her to be commander in chief. On the contrary, her constant resort to schmaltzy videos and cheap entertainment riffs ("The Sopranos," "Saturday Night Live") has been depressingly unpresidential. Is this how she would govern? All that canned "softening" of Hillary's image would have been unnecessary had she had greater personal resources to begin with. Her cutesy campaign has set a bad precedent for future women candidates, who should stand on their own as proponents of public policy.

SNL is trying to humanize the android aspects of this machine-inside-a-biyotch, but:
Would I want Hillary answering the red phone in the middle of the night? No, bloody not. The White House first responder should be a person of steady, consistent character and mood -- which describes Obama more than Hillary. And that scare ad was produced with amazing ineptitude. If it's 3 a.m., why is the male-seeming mother fully dressed as she comes in to check on her sleeping children? Is she a bar crawler or insomniac? An obsessive-compulsive housecleaner, like Joan Crawford in "Mommie Dearest"? And why is Hillary sitting at her desk in full drag and jewelry at that ungodly hour? A president should not be a monomaniac incapable of rest and perched on guard all night like Poe's baleful raven. People at the top need a relaxed perspective, which gives judgment and balance. Workaholism is an introspection-killing disease, the anxious disability of tunnel-vision middle managers.

So much truth, so little time! Finally, there's that hilarious VP canard that the Bubba-child threw out to the scorn of all:
As for the Dems' hybrid "dream ticket" of Hillary and Obama, which Bill Clinton bumptiously declared "unstoppable," are they kidding? Sure, it might resolve a sticky wicket inside the party, but a ticket must be carefully crafted for maximum appeal in the general election. Whoever wins the nomination will need a vice-president who can shore up the leader's perceived weakness on military and national security issues. And besides, neither Hillary nor Obama, who are major divas, should ever be stashed in the V.P. micro-slot, which would humiliatingly limit their political mobility over future years. A V.P. should be deferential and lower wattage and never upstage the head of the ticket. Only a masochist or castrate would want to be Hillary's V.P. anyhow, since Bill would sit on him like a beanbag.

Lots of eunuchs in DC would rush to be Hillary's VP. Bayh comes to mind, but there's a lot of Bob Foreheads in the wings ready to offer their huevos for the cause.

On a serious note, McCain's cranky charm is a good fit versus Obama's soft athletic persona [reminds me a bit of Keith Wilkes on the old LA Lakers] would be a cage-match worthy of attention.

McCain & Hillary are too much inside-the-beltway to make an interesting election.

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