At least one Democratic public intellectual can't see Hillary Clinton as our next president. Camille Paglia, who refers to herself as a "libertarian," has some surprising insights into the 2016 election - and Benghazi.
As a registered Democrat, I am praying for a credible presidential candidate to emerge from the younger tier of politicians in their late 40s. A governor with executive experience would be ideal. It's time to put my baby-boom generation out to pasture! We've had our day and managed to muck up a hell of a lot. It remains baffling how anyone would think that Hillary Clinton (born the same year as me) is our party's best chance. She has more sooty baggage than a 90-car freight train. And what exactly has she ever accomplished -- beyond bullishly covering for her philandering husband? She's certainly busy, busy and ever on the move -- with the tunnel-vision workaholism of someone trying to blot out uncomfortable private thoughts.
I for one think it was a very big deal that our ambassador was murdered in Benghazi. In saying "I take responsibility" for it as secretary of state, Hillary should have resigned immediately. The weak response by the Obama administration to that tragedy has given a huge opening to Republicans in the next presidential election. The impression has been amply given that Benghazi was treated as a public relations matter to massage rather than as the major and outrageous attack on the U.S. that it was.
Throughout history, ambassadors have always been symbolic incarnations of the sovereignty of their nations and the dignity of their leaders. It's even a key motif in "King Lear." As far as I'm concerned, Hillary disqualified herself for the presidency in that fist-pounding moment at a congressional hearing when she said, "What difference does it make what we knew and when we knew it, Senator?" Democrats have got to shake off the Clinton albatross and find new blood. The escalating instability not just in Egypt but throughout the Mideast is very ominous. There is a clash of cultures brewing in the world that may take a century or more to resolve -- and there is no guarantee that the secular West will win.
For 30 years, Paglia has pushed back against the "Stalinist" feminists like Gloria Steinem. What does she think of contemporary feminism?
Oh, feminism is still alive? Thanks for the tip! It sure is invisible, except for the random whine from some maleducated product of the elite schools who's found a plush berth in glossy magazines. It's hard to remember those bad old days when paleofeminist pashas ruled the roost. In the late '80s, the media would routinely turn to Gloria Steinem or the head of NOW for "the women's view" on every issue -- when of course it was just the Manhattan/D.C. insider's take, with a Democratic activist spin. Their shameless partisanship eventually doomed those Stalinist feminists, who were trampled by the pro-sex feminist stampede of the early '90s (in which I am proud to have played a vocal role). That insurgency began in San Francisco in the mid-'80s and went national throughout the following decade. They keep dusting Steinem off and trotting her out to pin awards on her, but she's the walking dead. Her anointed heirs (like Susan Faludi) sure didn't pan out, did they?
While it's a big relief not to have feminist bullies sermonizing from every news show anymore, the leadership vacuum is alarming. It's very distressing, for example, that the atrocities against women in India -- the shocking series of gang rapes, which seem never to end -- have not been aggressively condemned in a sustained way by feminist organizations in the U.S. I wanted to hear someone going crazy about it in the media and not letting up, day after day, week after week. The true mission of feminism today is not to carp about the woes of affluent Western career women but to turn the spotlight on life-and-death issues affecting women in the Third World, particularly in rural areas where they have little protection against exploitation and injustice.
Brilliant, heretical, maddening (she is a supporter of unregulated porn) - Camille Paglia is still vital and one of our most important public intellectuals alive. Perhaps it's more accurate to refer to her as "libertine" rather than libertarian. But there is little doubt her critiqes of modern society - art, culture, and politics - get you thinking.