Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Camille Paglia on Palin

One of the most enjoyable writers on Salon is Camille Paglia, a strong Obama supporter and feminist -- but who also has the unfortunately uncommon ability to view contemporary feminism through a relatively apolitical lens. This, of course, translates into an ability to admire Gov. Palin and her accomplishments -- and to acknowledge that politics will never be the same for women again after Palin. It will be better, and not just for Republicans:

The hysterical emotionalism and eruptions of amoral malice at the arrival of Sarah Palin exposed the weaknesses and limitations of current feminism. But I am convinced that Palin’s bracing mix of male and female voices, as well as her grounding in frontier grit and audacity, will prove to be a galvanizing influence on aspiring Democratic women politicians too, from the municipal level on up.

Palin has shown a brand-new way of defining female ambition — without losing femininity, spontaneity or humor. She’s no pre-programmed wonk of the backstage Hillary Clinton school; she’s pugnacious and self-created, the product of no educational or political elite — which is why her outsider style has been so hard for media lemmings to comprehend. And by the way, I think Tina Fey’s witty impersonations of Palin have been fabulous. But while Fey has nailed Palin’s cadences and charm, she can’t capture the energy, which is a force of nature.

She also raises the fascinating question of whether Gov. Palin, like her husband, is part Native American:

And where is all that lurid sexual fantasy coming from? When I watch Sarah Palin, I don’t think sex — I think Amazon warrior! I admire her competitive spirit and her exuberant vitality, which borders on the supernormal. The question 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.

One of the most idiotic allegations batting around out there among urban media insiders is that Palin is “dumb.” Are they kidding? What level of stupidity is now par for the course in those musty circles? (The value of Ivy League degrees, like sub-prime mortgages, has certainly been plummeting. As a Yale Ph.D., I have a perfect right to my scorn.) People who can’t see how smart Palin is are trapped in their own narrow parochialism — the tedious, hackneyed forms of their upper-middle-class syntax and vocabulary.

She even points out what millions of ordinary Americans already know -- those who don't speak as though their words have come filtered through the New York Times style book:

As someone whose first seven years were spent among Italian-American immigrants (I never met an elderly person who spoke English until we moved from Endicott to rural Oxford, New York, when I was in first grade), I am very used to understanding meaning through what might seem to others to be outlandish or fractured variations on standard English.


Many others listening to Sarah Palin at her debate went into conniptions about what they assailed as her incoherence or incompetence. But I was never in doubt about what she intended at any given moment.

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 (hopefully over the next eight years of the Obama presidencies). This is a tremendously talented politician whose moment has not yet come. That she holds views completely opposed to mine is irrelevant.

We have to admit that we prefer someone who can both: speak in "shapely and syncopated syllables" while consistently speaking in complete sentences as well. But having endured two Presidents Bush who could do neither, we'll take Sarah, gladly. And like Paglia, we have the feeling that Palin has the ability to learn, which is more than one can say for a great many politicians who are more greatly admired by the media and the left.


Ed Kemmick said...

Camille has a crush on Sarah. I'm so happy for both of them, though it was almost creepy reading about Paglia's admiration for Palin's "supernormal" "exuberant vitality."
But that is vintage Paglia. She is Palin's opposite, always stretching her words to give them maximum voltage. As long as she is acting the outlandish contrarian, scorning the "intellectuals" whose intellects are not nearly in her league, she will say almost anything. She is a shock jock with an advanced degree.

Montana Headlines said...

You have to admit that she's fun to read.

Anonymous said...

Paglia always has an interesting and unique take on things.

Speaking of interesting writers, here's a fascinating piece that asks whether Obama had help writing his memoir, "Dreams from My Father." It doesn't make the case beyond a reasonable doubt, but it sure makes a lot of compelling arguments. And who is the writer who helped Obama? None other than Bill Ayers.

It may sound far-fetched, but after you read the piece, not so much: