I am a feminist, I live in Philadelphia, I write for popular periodicals. I am Camille Paglia.
Wannabe Rustbelt Intellectual, Paglia, has penned a rambling, incoherent column in today's Salon (h/t to Kathy G--it's great to have you back) holding up Sarah Palin as the model feminist and charging, bizarrely, that Barack Obama is making himself too black for middle America. Of Obama, Paglia confesses: "I have become increasingly uneasy about Obama's efforts to sound folksy and approachable by reflexively using inner-city African-American tones and locutions, which as a native of Hawaii he acquired relatively late in his development and which are painfully wrong for the target audience of rural working-class whites that he has been trying to reach." Huh?
Paglia writes that "in terms of redefining the persona for female authority and leadership, Palin has made the biggest step forward in feminism since Madonna channeled the dominatrix persona of high-glam Marlene Dietrich and rammed pro-sex, pro-beauty feminism down the throats of the prissy, victim-mongering, philistine feminist establishment." Except one inconvenient fact. Palin and the McCain campaign have been playing the victim card at every turn. Paglia buys right into this, arguing that Palin has been subject to "witch-trial hysteria" over the last few weeks. Hyperbole aside, Camille, this is a political campaign. Should the Democrats bow in worship of the gun-toting, economic conservative, book-banning, faux-reformer vice presidential candidate of the opposing party? Overall, Barack Obama and Joe Biden have been exceedingly polite to Palin out of deference to the double-standard that has infected the election since Palin debuted: namely that it's OK for the pitbull with lipstick to bark and bite, but not OK for her opponents to fight back.
Tough questions about Palin's qualifications? Unfair, because she's a woman. Concerns about her executive experience? Sexist: she wouldn't get these questions if she were a man. Obama uses the phrase "you can put lipstick on a pig and it's still a pig" in a discussion of McCain in a speech. Cries of sexism and outrage by the McSame camp. This coming from the campaign of the sexist who called his wife a c-nt, cracked a vile joke about Chelsea Clinton as the bastard child of Janet Reno, and has never seen a pro-woman public policy that he likes. The sham victimology that the GOP is using to shield Palin from the hard-hitting criticism that every political candidate should face is nothing short of appalling.
Palin-loving Paglia goes on to burnish her middle-American credentials in one of the most risible passages in her article. "One reason I live in the leafy suburbs of Philadelphia and have never moved to New York or Washington is that, as a cultural analyst, I want to remain in touch with the mainstream of American life. I frequent fast-food restaurants, shop at the mall, and periodically visit Wal-Mart (its bird-seed section is nonpareil)." Paglia's leafy suburb (which I won't name to protect her privacy) is lush and pretty rich. It has a great school district. You can live the very good life there. I'm sure that the lawyers, doctors and college professors who live in her sweet little slice of suburbia are true middle Americans.
When Paglia goes to her local mall, she's not rubbing shoulders with the blue-collar swing voters of Northeast Philadelphia whom Biden, Obama, Palin, and McCain are courting, unless she happens to enter through the stockroom or spends a few minutes after hours schmoozing with the janitorial staff. The residents of her quiet corner of the world aren't, for the most part, struggling to make ends meet. They haven't been ravaged by eight years of Republican policy: they have been favored by it. Most of the working-class voters with whom Paglia disingenuously identifies don't have time to linger in the bird-seed section of Walmart, they work there. That the arch Paglia is now the voice of authentic working-class America is just plain bizarre.