Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A few thoughts this morning.

Per my photo, I was told several times that I should have mentioned I was raised by Hal Holbrook. Ah well, my apologies.

I just read this rambling column by David Mamet in the Village Voice entitled: Why I Am No Longer a 'Brain-Dead Liberal'.

But then I realized my favorite lesbian feminist, Camille Paglia, had her new column up, which I can't help quoting here:


Hillary's race against time

Are Clinton's inept attack ads and faux-feminism enough? Can Obama learn to attack?

By Camille Paglia

Mar. 12, 2008 | Greetings from ground zero -- the Philadelphia suburbs where the epic battle between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton may be decided in Pennsylvania's Democratic primary on April 22. Current scuttlebutt -- a frail reed in this mercurial race -- is that the multiracial metropolises of Pittsburgh and Philadelphia will go for Obama, while the vast rural and small-town heartland will endorse Clinton, whose family roots are in coal-country Scranton.

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.

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.

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.

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.

The cloud of feminist cant about Hillary's struggling candidacy has been noxious. "Media misogyny has reached an all-time high," screeched the National Organization for Women in a press release titled "Ignorance and Venom: The Media's Deeply Ingrained Sexism." Groan. If women are going to play in the geopolitical big league, they'd better toughen up and learn how to deal with all the curveballs. Never has the soppy emotionalism of old-guard feminist reasoning been on such open and embarrassing display. How has Hillary, who rode her husband's coattails to the top and who trashed every woman he seduced or assaulted, become such a feminist heroine? What has she ever achieved on her own -- aside from the fiasco of healthcare reform?

And if the media is treating Hillary in a gendered way, hasn't she herself constantly and cynically dramatized her embattled womanhood? It began with her snappish defense of her hangdog husband during the Gennifer Flowers imbroglio of 1992. Blame tail-chasing Bill, from Little Rock on, for sexualizing the popular perception of the Clintons. Nubile, exploited Monica Lewinsky will always hover around Hillary like ghostly baggage. Bill's serial abuses betray a profound ambivalence about and deep-seated hostility to women -- something the Clintons' giddy feminist flacks just don't see. Why was Hillary flying around the world to those 80 countries anyhow -- building her résumé while leaving her randy hubby unleashed? Anyone who thinks Bill's exploits are going to stop after Hillary is president has, well, a screw loose. New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer's entrapment in a sex scandal is coming at a particularly inopportune moment for the Clintons, since it simply reminds everyone again of tawdry, furtive, high-placed adultery.

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