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Friday, September 12, 2008

Paglia Defends Palin

Camille Paglia, noted (but strange, imho) feminist has come out in defense of Sarah Palin in her latest Salon column. She doesn't defend her to the point of endorsing the McCain-Palin ticket, but instead by claiming that Palin represents a new kind of feminism that has to be approached and applauded by the uber-left feminists on the Gloria Steinham end of the spectrum.

She skewers the democratic party, and the partisans that are attacking Palin as the folks who will bring the party down, not save it (or us) from the 'evil right wing'.

The witch-trial hysteria of the past two incendiary weeks unfortunately reveals a disturbing trend in the Democratic Party, which has worsened over the past decade. Democrats are quick to attack the religiosity of Republicans, but Democratic ideology itself seems to have become a secular substitute religion. Since when did Democrats become so judgmental and intolerant? Conservatives are demonized, with the universe polarized into a Manichaean battle of us versus them, good versus evil. Democrats are clinging to pat group opinions as if they were inflexible moral absolutes. The party is in peril if it cannot observe and listen and adapt to changing social circumstances.
I'd suggest the Democrats may not be able to adapt. The party has become so rigid in it's identity politics dogma, that any change is seen as abandoning a certain group and a slight to it.

While the pick of Joe Biden made sense in a foriegn policy sense for Obama, the women in the party are outraged that Hillary, who got as many votes as Obama, was left off the ticket. That doesn't mean that 90% of her female supporters are going to jump on the McCain-Palin bandwagon because there is a vagina on it, but a few will. Enough and it costs Obama the election.

Paglia makes another point about Palin, she represents something that many of the urban chic women of today don't get, but the folks who cling to god and guns do:

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.
If someone has spent their life in Boston, New York, LA, or San Francisco this doesn't matter, it's a quaint story of "Americana" that those women don't understand. It should matter to the Democratic party, because the area that Barack Obama needs to make the most inroads is in rural white America. This is where Paglia's recollection of strong women is more the norm than thinking a pantsuit and Harvard Law degree is a sign of strength.

Or, as Paglia puts it:

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. Sarah Palin, if her reputation survives the punishing next two months, may be breaking down those barriers. Feminism, which should be about equal rights and equal opportunity, should not be a closed club requiring an ideological litmus test for membership.

Paglia is correct, and on point with that statement, but unfortunately that same rigid dogma of identity politics she hates will keep Palinesque women out of the feminism tent.

The specific litmus test; pro-choice; which she alludes to has so much of the feminist movement's energy behind it; and has for 4 decades; that to allow a pro-life woman under the tent would probably destroy it; at least in Steinham and Co.'s eyes.

It is nonsensical and counterproductive for Democrats to imagine that pro-life values can be defeated by maliciously destroying their proponents. And it is equally foolish to expect that feminism must for all time be inextricably wed to the pro-choice agenda. There is plenty of room in modern thought for a pro-life feminism -- one in fact that would have far more appeal to third-world cultures where motherhood is still honored and where the Western model of the hard-driving, self-absorbed career woman is less admired.

But the one fundamental precept that Democrats must stand for is independent thought and speech. When they become baying bloodhounds of rigid dogma,Democrats have committed political suicide

While I disagree with Paglia on a lot of topics, and nearly all the time, she hit the nail on the head on both how to expand feminism, and save the Democratic Party with this column.

For those who doubt that, just consider the McCain-Palin ticket. For months we've been told that the 'religous right' wouldn't embrace a ticket with McCain on it. Now they've not only embraced him, they've become some of Palin's biggest advocates.

McCain himself fails half of the "Limbaugh Litmus Tests", but has suddenly energized the GOP. Limbaugh himself; self important gasbag that he is; has had to grudgingly accept his own wrongness on the idea of McCain getting killed by Obama in this race.

If the GOP, and Dittoheads can get behind a McCain type candidate, imagine what the Democrats, and feminists, could do if they ever got behind a strong, pro-life, woman. They might actually be able to win the White House, with a woman.

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