In an earlier post, Michelle flagged this piece in Salon in which one of my favorite Democrats, Camille Paglia, was interviewed. I recommend you read the entire article but what really caught my eye was Paglia’s brutally blunt assessment of Bill Clinton’s wife and her supposed claim on the presidency:
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.
As I’ve noted in multiple posts, the hoopla surrounding Hillary Clinton and her “inevitability” to be president has always mystified me. To be sure, she has held some high-level government offices. But the only reason those titles adorn Mrs. Clinton’s résumé is, well, because she’s Mrs. Clinton. Had she not married Bubba in the ‘70s, we wouldn’t even know who she is.
Does anyone seriously believe she could have carpet-bagged her way into New York and been elected Senator based on anything she’d ever accomplished? The question answers itself. Once elected what, specifically, did she do in the Senate? What did she accomplish? I’m drawing a blank on that one. And yet her rationale for being president during the 2008 campaign was, presumably, the fact she was in the Senate. I remember the 2008 Democrat primaries when Mrs. Clinton ran that famous 3:00 AM telephone call ad against Obama, the implication being that Americans would be foolish to trust a newbie like O to handle that call when they could have an …er … seasoned leader like Hillary to handle it instead.
I recall laughing out loud when I saw that ad. Why, exactly, was Obama any less qualified to answer that call than Mrs. Clinton? I couldn’t think of anything then, and I can’t think of anything now. And neither could Democrat voters which is one of the primary reasons Obama was the eventual nominee.
And now Mrs. Clinton is gearing up to do it again. This time she has added another title, Secretary of State, to her résumé. And again, if you look beyond the title, you see virtually nothing substantive. Obama nominated her to the position for purely political reasons: Bringing the Clintons into the fold would greatly reduce the likelihood Team Clinton and the Pumas would make life uncomfortable for him. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. As was the case with her Senate seat, had she not been Bill Clinton’s wife, there’s no way she’d have been anywhere near Foggy Bottom.
Once installed as Secretary of State, what is Mrs. Clinton’s legacy? What, precisely, did she do? Her supporters call her the most well-traveled Secretary of State in history. I guess racking up frequent flyer miles (at taxpayer expense) has now become a résumé-enhancing accomplishment. But what did we taxpayers receive for our funding of Mrs. Clinton’s globe-trotting? Has Iran stopped pursuing nukes? Has our relationship with Russia or China grown closer? Is Jeffersonian democracy thriving in the Middle East and North Africa? Indeed, is there anywhere in the world that has improved in any way while Mrs. Clinton’s was Secretary of State? If anyone can’t think of an example, enlighten me in the comments.
In reality, the only thing I think of when I consider Mrs. Clinton’s tenure at State is Benghazi. This debacle provided us with a stark example of just how Mrs. Clinton would handle the aforementioned 3:00 AM phone call. “What difference does it make?”
It certainly made a difference to the four Americans who were needlessly murdered that night. Somebody at State repeatedly denied Ambassador Steven’s repeated requests for more security in the months and weeks leading up to the massacre. Somebody gave the order for the military to stand down when they were ready to attempt a rescue that night. It had to be either Mrs. Clinton or someone who works for her. Donna Rice, perhaps? In any event, the buck stopped with the Secretary of State since Obama, naturally, couldn’t be bothered since he was resting up for the following day’s all-important campaign event in Las Vegas.
So Mrs. Clinton’s rationale for being president is based entirely on her titles, not her record. And those titles only came her way because she’s married to a former president, not because of anything she ever did to earn them. Again, other than a knack for dodging sniper fire in Bosnia, and an amazing ability to predict the cattle futures market, what specific accomplishments can she point to? Hillarycare?
As Michelle noted, Camille Paglia, though a Democrat, has always respected Governor Palin. Though the two doubtlessly disagree on many issues, Paglia respects the fact that Governor Palin, in stark contrast to Bill Clinton’s wife, worked for everything she achieved. Nothing was handed to her. Paglia also rejects the notion that only liberals can be feminists. In 2008, immediately after her nomination, Governor Palin was mercilessly attacked by the likes of Gloria Steinem and other dinosaurs of her ilk for not kowtowing to the liberal feminist orthodoxy of victimization.
Paglia came to the Governor’s defense, contrasting the stale, canned feminism of the ‘60s exemplified by Steinem, Hillary, et. al with that of Governor Palin. Paglia argued that for women to achieve true equality, they need to follow the path blazed by the Governor Palins — not the Hillary Clintons — of the world if they truly want to achieve equality. Further, Paglia predicted that feminism would continue to be a small fringe movement primarily consisting of urban liberals if they continued to reject those with alternate political views.
Conservative though she may be, I felt that Palin represented an explosion of a brand new style of muscular American feminism. At her startling debut on that day, she was combining male and female qualities in ways that I have never seen before. And she was somehow able to seem simultaneously reassuringly traditional and gung-ho futurist. 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…
Hillary Clinton, with her schizophrenic alteration of personae, has never seemed presidential to me — and certainly not in her bland and overpraised farewell speech at the Democratic convention (which skittered from slow, pompous condescension to trademark stridency to unseemly haste)…
The gun-toting Sarah Palin is like Annie Oakley, a brash ambassador from America’s pioneer past. She immediately reminded me of the frontier women of the Western states, which first granted women the right to vote after the Civil War — long before the federal amendment guaranteeing universal woman suffrage was passed in 1919. Frontier women faced the same harsh challenges and had to tackle the same chores as men did — which is why men could regard them as equals, unlike the genteel, corseted ladies of the Eastern seaboard, which fought granting women the vote right to the bitter end…
Perhaps Palin seemed perfectly normal to me because she resembles so many women I grew up around in the snow belt of upstate New York. For example, there were the robust and hearty farm women of Oxford, a charming village where my father taught high school when I was a child. We first lived in an apartment on the top floor of a farmhouse on a working dairy farm. Our landlady, who was as physically imposing as her husband, was an all-American version of the Italian immigrant women of my grandmother’s generation — agrarian powerhouses who could do anything and whose trumpetlike voices could pierce stone walls.
Here’s one episode. My father and his visiting brother, a dapper barber by trade, were standing outside having a smoke when a great noise came from the nearby barn. A calf had escaped. Our landlady yelled, “Stop her!” as the calf came careening at full speed toward my father and uncle, who both instinctively stepped back as the calf galloped through the mud between them. Irate, our landlady trudged past them to the upper pasture, cornered the calf, and carried that massive animal back to the barn in her arms. As she walked by my father and uncle, she exclaimed in amused disgust, “Men!”
Now that’s the Sarah Palin brand of can-do, no-excuses, moose-hunting feminism — a world away from the whining, sniping, wearily ironic mode of the establishment feminism represented by Gloria Steinem, a Hillary Clinton supporter whose shameless Democratic partisanship over the past four decades has severely limited American feminism and not allowed it to become the big tent it can and should be.
I don’t know if Governor Palin will run for the presidency in 2016 — or ever. But there’s no doubt that she’s a far more accomplished leader than Mrs. Clinton can ever hope to be, and certainly far more qualified to be president. Hillary has her titles, but they were handed to her simply because her husband is an ex-president. Governor Palin has her titles, too, but she earned them through a combination of hard work and intelligence. In addition to her titles, Governor Palin has something Hillary lacks: A solid record of positive accomplishments.