Salon has given the chronically vapid Camille Paglia thousands of words to pontificate on all sorts of issues that she knows nothing about, such as Obama's views on foreign policy. Paglia argues somehow that Obama's resolutely centrist foreign policy is rooted in campus radicalism. "The university culture at Columbia and Harvard through which Obama passed has been drenched in a reflexive anti-Americanism for several decades. Armchair blame-America-first leftism is the default mode. Disdain for the military is rampant, and conservative voices are rarely heard." Had Paglia actually read Obama's foreign policy statements and had she actually examined Obama's by now well-known record at Columbia and Harvard...but well that would actually require fifteen minutes of research. For Paglia, logorrhea substitutes for logic.
But that's not the worst of it. Paglia continues her month-long swoon over Sarah Palin. And she reveals a new infatuation with Todd. She hails the Alaskan couple as Sarah "powerful new symbols of a revived contemporary feminism." Here's the clincher: "That the macho Todd, with his champion athleticism and working-class cred, can so amiably cradle babies and care for children is a huge step forward in American sexual symbolism." If only Paglia had watched the gavel-to-gavel coverage of the Republican convention, she would have observed a fascinating bit of political theater playing out. Bristol Palin (whose shotgun wedding Paglia would surely manage to interpret as a step forward for feminism) was the primary caretaker for little Trig. Cindy McCain rocked the sleeping child for a few minutes, no doubt in an effort to soften her sharp edges. But then, when the prime time cameras came on, Todd took over. Until the cameras were on, the baby got passed about among the womenfolk. As a feminist dad, I can say that my "cred" came from cradling my babies out of the limelight at two in the morning. A few minutes of theatrical parenting on prime time TV is not a blow for equal parenting. And anyhow, who watches the Palin clan when Todd is zipping about the tundra on his snowmobile?
To top it all off, Paglia throws in a good dollop of racial essentialism. "When I watch Sarah Palin, I don't think sex -- I think Amazon warrior!" So gushes Paglia, as her analysis degrades even further. She goes on: "the questions that keeps popping up for me is whether Palin, who was born in Idaho, could possibly be part Native American (as we know her husband is), which sometimes seems suggested by her strong facial contours. I have felt that same extraordinary energy and hyper-alertness billowing out from other women with Native American ancestry -- including two overpowering celebrity icons with whom I have worked."
And finally, Paglia defends Palin against charges that she's a dim bulb: "On the contrary, I was admiring not only her always shapely and syncopated syllables but the innate structures of her discourse -- which did seem to fly by in fragments at times but are plainly ready to be filled with deeper policy knowledge, as she gains it..." Palin as empty verbal vessel waiting to be filled by Republican policy knowledge. Hmm. I'll leave it to my friends in cultural studies to interpret that one.
Two pieces of advice: Salon, it's time to can Paglia. And America, it's time to can Palin.