Clinton the Time-Serving Panderer: Camille Paglia Has Her Number
Hillary Clinton “has a stained and tattered rap sheet five miles long … after a public career so light on concrete achievement and so heavy with lies and greed.” She is “a time-server and trimmer who cynically panders to every audience and who shuffles through policy positions like playing cards,” a woman who speaks with a “simmering subtext of contemptuous bitterness about men.” And she definitely doesn’t deserve her status as a “feminist icon,” because she’s risen so high “not on any accomplishment of her own but on her marriage to a charismatic politician.”
An article from an obscure website written by a cantankerous 60-something male conservative with low blood sugar? A Republican hit job? A ticked off Bernie Sanders staffer? No. The article appeared in the prominent, reliably leftist website Salon. And the writer is Camille Paglia, an ex-Catholic atheist lesbian “pro-sex” feminist leftist, a registered Democrat and a formidable critic of Republican presidential candidates (see here and here).
Why the Animus?
Why the animus for a fellow feminist Democrat? Paglia, who came to public fame in 1990 with an improbable bestseller titled Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson, does not think much of what she calls “the power elite who hijacked and stunted second-wave feminism.” And she apparently feels that Clinton, one of their darlings, represents everything that is wrong with the feminist movement to which she is committed.
In an earlier, mostly psychological study for Salon, she found the source of Clinton’s type of “blame-men-first” feminism in her upbringing by a dominating father. But whatever the reason for her style of feminism, Clinton “is narrowing her presidential chances when she privileges elite professional women at men’s expense.”
Interviewed by The Globe and Mail in 2007 while Clinton was beginning her first run for the presidency, Paglia described Clinton as “essentially a policy wonk” with “no vision” and no “core values.” But she does possess a high degree of self-regard. Condemning Clinton’s “campaign of defamation against the working-class and lower-middle-class women her husband solicited,” Paglia noted that “she’s also able to perceive herself as an ethical, God-fearing, Bible-reading Methodist who is quasi-saintly for her commitment to ethical causes. She will not admit a mistake. She has no power of self-analysis. She thinks all her problems are due to her enemies.”
Clinton, Paglia continued in the interview, “has no real pleasures. There’s something about Hillary that’s anhedonic — the inability to take pleasure in the moment. Everything for her is this beady-eyed scheming for the future, combined with this mass of resentments for the past, the people who have done them wrong.” At the same time, Paglia said, Clinton’s very comfortable among the rich and powerful, which she does see as a point in her favor.
In 2013, looking ahead to this election, Paglia told Salon she wanted a younger governor to run for president and put “my baby-boom generation out to pasture.” (She and Clinton were both born in 1947.) Clinton, she said, “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.”
The Feminist Power Elite
In her most recent article, Paglia takes down not just Hillary but the feminist power elite, Gloria Steinem in particular. In the late ’60s, she became a fan of the newly prominent Steinem, “with her chic aviator shades, hip-huggers, and flowing, streaked-blonde hair” and her ability to make feminism sound reasonable to mainstream America. Paglia thinks differently now. Last Friday Steinem said on TV, “When you’re young, you’re thinking: ‘Where are the boys? The boys are with Bernie.'” When she said that, Paglia observed, “Steinem’s polished humanitarian mask had slipped, revealing the mummified fascist within.”
Four days later, sixty-nine percent of women under 45 voted for Sanders over Clinton in the New Hampshire primary, and Sanders was even more popular among younger women. Explaining why the senior women of American feminism like Steinem would speak so contemptuously of younger women who disagreed with them on a candidate, Paglia told The New York Times, “Obviously, they are desperate because Hillary’s numbers are falling, so they are really pulling out the heavy artillery.”
“Steinem colluded in the male-bashing momentum of feminism,” Pagla argued in Thursday’s article,
when she declared, “A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.” Her honeyed, snide and condescending tone about men became the feminist house style. Childless, she helped demote stay-at-home moms to second-class status. She was instrumental in inflaming an important issue, abortion, to so fanatical a degree that it drove away tens of thousands of potential recruits to feminism — women who happened to have moral objections to abortion based on religious faith.
Steinem and the National Organization of Women work as “backstage secret agents for the Democratic party,” and their undercover work includes encouraging Hillary Clinton’s ambitions, protecting her public image and promoting her even when doing so required sneering at poor and young women who weren’t following them in their commitment to Clinton. It’s not sexism that’s keeping Hillary Clinton from sweeping to victory, Paglia says, who much prefers Bernie Sanders to Clinton. It’s that Hillary’s just not very good at running for office, and doesn’t really have anything to offer.
Paglia had still more criticism for Clinton in last year’s interview with Nick Gillespie of Reason magazine. The first female U.S. Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, famously said a fews ago, “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other.” You can’t help but think Camille Paglia feels there’s a special place in hell for women who support Hillary Clinton just because she’s Hillary Clinton.