Camille Paglia Gets It.

by Mike on June 13, 2007

in Election 2008,Politics

A few days ago I mentioned that George W. Bush will not be on the ballot in 2008. This observation wasn’t exactly rocket science, but hey none of the Democrats running for President have noticed. With neither the lame duck nor anyone from his administration in the Republican top tier, the Democrat candidate is going to have to run a campaign that isn’t based on its base’s favorite punching bag. With Bush’s leadership out of the equation, the campaign’s focus will shift to what the debates are already making clear. On national security issues, Republicans are adults and Democrats are whiny children.

Left-wing columnist (I don’t mean that as an insult in her case) Camille Paglia has noticed this dynamic. Her recent piece on Salon is a pretty interesting read on where the Democrats are heading.

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.

Paglia largely bases her opinion on her comparison of the two parties’ debate performances. According to her, the male Democrats’ reluctance to criticize She Who Must Not Be Named and the frontrunner’s unappealing image compounds what is already a problem for the Democrats, the party’s reputation for weakness.  It’s pretty clear that the columnist is unimpressed with her party’s field. Not that the other options are any better.

Paglia asserts and I agree that Al Gore won’t help them either.

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.

The Democrats’ six-year smear campaign against George W. Bush was an unqualified success. Fortunately it appears that they are becoming a victim of that success. Because these smears coupled with the new tone created the perfect political punching bag, the Democrats have zeroed in almost exclusively on their current political foe even though their future opponent has no connection to the unpopular administration. This freedom from Bush on the GOP side will give them the opportunity to better focus their campaign on the Democrats’ Achilles heel: national security issues. It’s already working.

The Democrat debates featured eight candidates (some of whom don’t even believe there is a War on Terror) pre-occupied with a man who isn’t even running. The Republican debates on the other hand featured nine candidates with a serious approach to tackling the War on Terror. The future Republican nominee is already talking about solutions to the war and will continue to do so after being nominated. When the future Democrat is forced to run against someone unconnected to Bush, everything that Democrat said about the lame duck will be for naught, and the gravitas gap will remain.

Some lefties are catching on. Hopefully, their leaders will ignore them and continue chasing a political shadow.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

BillT June 14, 2007 at 1:16 pm

I’m pretty sure Paglia is a liberal (in the traditional sense of the word) and not a leftist or left wing. Sorry if it seems like I’m picking nits, but I think the distinction is important. It is possible to hold a reasoned discussion with a liberal. Not so with a leftist.


Mike June 14, 2007 at 2:16 pm

Actually I would classify people like us as liberals in the traditional sense of the word. Some from the 1960s left (and those people had their own problem with “liberals”) were academic and honest in their approach, even if dead wrong. I think all three descriptions fit Paglia. Your point is well-taken though even if we differ on the labels.

Regardless of label however, I felt some sort of distinction is necessary between her and others who could be called liberal, leftist or whatever for precisely the reason you give. Even when Paglia argues a point I don’t agree with (almost always), it is well-reasoned.


Ryan June 14, 2007 at 2:47 pm

A well-reasoned lib… I supposed a few were out there. Three cheers for Mike for finding one! Paglia is most likely being honest about the campaign thus far because she wants to help her side out. The truth is that unfortunately for her, Algore is who the Democratic Party grassroots is and She Who Must Not Be Named is who the establishment is too– a political version of a prostitute, willing to take any postion to appease her customers, this time it’s the American people she’s selling herself to. New York bought it twice. Will we? Probably not according to Paglia.


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