Sunday, April 20, 2008

Camille on Hillary: A Busted Flush or One Brick Short of a Load?

Camille Paglia is a kinder gentler feminine version of Christopher Hitchens, full of biting sarcasm larded with startling apercus that make her articles a joy to read from beginning to end.

The link above to the Daily Telegraph is the best description in a dozen paragraphs or so of what makes Hillary tick, and why she is never quite in synch with her times:
Hillary's voter base consists of middle-aged to elderly white women who identify with her caustic, stubborn, bulldog resilience. Humiliated and upstaged by her philandering husband, Hillary is the champion of an army of women who were stymied, betrayed or outmanoeuvred by men. Over the past year, whenever her cowed male opponents mildly rebutted Hillary in debate, her campaign jumped into ├╝ber-feminist mode: male bullies, they screeched, "ganging up" on a helpless damsel.

Losing ground with other core groups - notably her own cohort of upper-middle-class, baby-boom career woman - Hillary played the gender card to the max. When polling showed she had seemed too harsh to the caucus-goers of Iowa, she rolled out teary eyes for New Hampshire, which handed her a primary victory. Hillary will scratch, claw, and morph through every gender trick if it rakes in votes.

This symbol of raw female ambition has never comfortably fitted into a conventional sex role. As the first child of a hard-working and authoritarian father, Hillary absorbed his willfulness, competitive drive and suspicion. Excelling academically, Hillary felt ill at ease with the feminine persona so deftly deployed by pretty, popular girls in that era. Frumpy, stumpy and myopic, she identified with the new idolatry of shiny careerism promulgated by the second-wave feminism of the late 1960s, when she emerged from posh Wellesley College.

She hooked her wagon to a star, a luminescent Supernova who quickly morphed into a black dwarf, "our first black president" in a silly encomium by a black author. All the way up the ladder, she cut corners on special "deals" such as the cattle futures lottery fix and other backstairs politicking in a corrupt little backwater state where her hubby was Duke of Hearts.
Whatever her official feminist credo, Hillary's public career has glaringly been a subset to her husband's success. Despite her reputation for brilliance, she failed the Washington, DC bar exam. Thus her migration to Little Rock was not simply a selfless drama for love; she was fleeing the capital where she had hoped to make her mark.

In Little Rock, every role that Hillary played was obtained via her husband's influence - from her position at the Rose Law Firm to her seat on the board of Wal-Mart to her advocacy for public education reform. In a pattern that would continue after Bill became president, Hillary would draw attention by expressing public "concern" for a problem, without ever being able to organise a programme for reform.

Hillary has always been a policy wonk, a functionary attuned to bureaucratic process, but she has never shown executive ability, which makes her quest for the presidency problematic. Hillary's disastrous botching of national healthcare reform in 1993 (a project to which her husband rashly appointed her) will live in infamy. Obama may also have limited executive experience, but he has no comparable stain on his record.

So actually, on the executive side, it is Obama zero, Hillary minus-one! More in sadness than in anger Camille proceeds to defenestrate the Former First Lady:
The argument, therefore, that Hillary's candidacy marks the zenith of modern feminism is specious. Feminism is not well served by her surrogates' constant tactic of attributing all opposition to her as a function of entrenched sexism. Well into her second term as a US Senator, Hillary lacks a single example of major legislative achievement. Her career has consisted of fundraising, meet-and-greets and speeches around the world expressing support for women's rights.



Hillary Clinton is aiming to become the first female president of the United States

What feminist supporters have recently denounced as troglodytic misogyny in media portrayals of Hillary has in fact been a function of her own strange sexual accommodations and ambiguities. Yes, she may surround herself with luscious, multicultural babes (such as her minder, Huma Abedin, or her now sacked aide, Patty Solis Doyle), but Hillary, despite the rumours, is no lesbian. She's a crucifix-wearing, Methodist do-gooder who confidently thinks she's God's agent. There's no room for random eroticism in her calendar.

Rumors in Chicago that I have heard, but only from a socialite with access to Hillary's outer circle, have her in a "relationship" with a female NYC MD. But that aside, I believe Camille because the Park Ridge ethos of Hillary's generation is pre-Sapphic & Hillary should be hanged more as a fool/knave on her ridiculous performance {Brad Delong was privy to her authoritarian incompetence in that fiasco] than any personal dalliance. She may be too cold to the touch. Friends of ours in DC with kids in Sidwell Friends had Chelsea telling Daphne that she was sick so often because the White House Staff was completely unsupervised and failed to buy fresh milk for the fridge!!! I'm not making this up. Chelsea was ill from tainted food, a sort of vengeance as a dish grown cold engineered by a White House staff treated like dirt.
Genuinely disturbing are the caricatures of Hillary (called "Hitlery" or "the Hildebeast" on the web) that rarely accrue to male candidates: she's portrayed as a hectoring nag, a witch on a broomstick, or a castrating bitch. But if such images were truly generated by simple fear of female power, we would expect to find them around other women politicians too, such as the current female Speaker of the House.

No, Hillary was demonised by the American electorate long before she sought elective office. It is Bill Clinton who is responsible for the tainted sexual aura around his wife.

Furthermore, Hillary's mythomania and her chameleon-like daily alterations of persona and voice are unsettling. (Even Hillary's eye colour is fake: she wears blue contact lenses.) No male candidate enjoys Hillary's options as a woman to tailor her costume to the audience.

Hillary is a Scorpio for those with the slightest interest/curiosity about astrology. She fits the mold of fierce unrelenting Medea who will serve her children to her philandering spouse before finally ceding to a sad destiny. I'd wonder what will happen if the Obamanable Showman gets nominated. Will Hillary support the ticket or, Gene McCarthy style, sulk through the campaign & let McCain reap the benefits ala Nixon in '68? Camille's prognosis is grim:
Hillary's recent remarks about politics as a "boys' club" resistant to uppity women was sheer demagoguery. By progressing farther than any woman presidential candidate, she has become a role model for future aspirants. But by attaching herself so blatantly to anti-male rhetoric - particularly in view of her debt to her husband - she is espousing a retrograde brand of feminism no longer applicable to the US.

If Hillary loses, batten the hatches against a mass resurrection of paranoid, paleo-feminist martyrs, counting their wounds and wailing at the blood-red moon.

"Hell hath no fury...." and the Democrats may pay the price of that canonical saw.

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