Camille Paglia: Last of the Open-Minded Liberals


by Danny Huddleston

[Keith: While I agree with much of the analysis in this, I disagree that the economic policies of the Obamaites can rightfully be classified as “socialist” or “communist.” Obamanomics is closer to corporatism, or “state-capitalism,” i.e. fascism. As an example see this critique of Obamacare  from a more authentic leftist-socialist perspective from Dennis Kucinich. Obama is just as much a stooge for the banksters as Bush was. However, the Obamaites do represent a coming to power of Cultural Marxism derived from the New Left, so some of the confusion on this question found on the Right is understandable if inaccurate.]

What would you call an acknowledged member of the intellectual elite who is skeptical of global warming, likes to listen to Rush Limbaugh, has an ongoing battle with the feminist establishment and is a fan of Sarah Palin? I would call her the last of the open minded liberals. Don’t get the wrong idea, she’s no dittohead. And she has some controversial and disturbing ideas that would be right at home in the far left universe. But what she doesn’t do is blindly follow today’s liberal orthodoxy. Her answer is similar to the main theme of many of her other recent columns. She has some harsh words for those around Obama and some of his policies while still holding out hope that he can turn it all around, as reflected in this comment: “Count me among those who are very critical of many of Obama’s actions or evasions but who continue to like him and to believe in his potential as a world leader.” A good example of her disdain for those around Obama can be found in this excerpt from a column she wrote in March of this year:

Yes, free the president from his flacks, fixers and goons — his posse of smirky smart alecks and provincial rubes, who were shrewd enough to beat the slow, pompous Clintons in the mano-a-mano primaries but who seem like dazed lost lambs in the brave new world of federal legislation and global statesmanship. Heads should be rolling at the White House for the embarrassing series of flubs that have overshadowed President Obama’s first seven weeks in office and given the scattered, demoralized Republicans a huge boost toward regrouping and resurrection. (Michelle, please use those fabulous toned arms to butt some heads!)

Interestingly this is not the first Democrat administration that Camille has had a problem with. In a 1995 interview in Playboy she was asked: “Were you optimistic when Clinton was elected?” Her answer:
Of course. We finally had a great opportunity. It was a chance to rethink everything that had failed as a result of the shoddy thinking in the Sixties and to try again with a new, reasoned approach. The Clinton administration should have been a think tank for the nation–he himself should have led the debate, reaffirming all Sixties ideals but correcting them where they had become excessive. It’s a tragedy that he didn’t. Instead of surrounding himself with progressive intellectuals, he surrounded himself with Eighties yuppies–like George Stephanopoulos, whom I loathe with a passion. I wish Clinton would fire everyone around him. I want a Saturday night massacre. I hate them all. But Clinton has totally lost the persona of leadership. It’s pathetic. He’s looking like a salesman.
It’s deja vu all over again, she has a chronic case of buyer’s remorse.

Notice her criticism of the Clinton administration extends all the way to the guy at the top. She even criticized Clinton for not resigning after the Monica Lewinsky scandal. But today with her critique of the Obama administration she stops short of blaming Obama himself. It will be interesting to see if this changes in the future.

Why do influential liberals like Camille continue to give Obama a pass? Clearly Obama and those he has surrounded himself with are far more radical than the Clinton administration was. A new video has surfaced showing Anita Dunn, the White House communications director extolling the virtues of Mao Tse-Tung. This is just the latest in a string of marxists and radicals found serving in the Obama White House.

There is a logical reason the Obama administration is far more radical than the Clinton administration was. It is the culmination of a decades long trend. Professor Paglia’s colleagues in academia have been a little too successful in their efforts to change our culture. Many parts of American society including political parties — particularly the Democrat Party — have been moving to the far left for many years now.

Camille and a few other liberals like her who still believe in liberty and freedom and reject political correctness have been shut out of the debate. No one is listening.

Her writings are filled with heartfelt questions for her party. Some may wonder if her thought process is taking her down the same road that Robin of Berkeley traveled recently? That’s not likely, Camille has traveled too far as a Democrat. Here are some of her pleas to the Democrat establishment from her September 9th column:

Why did it take so long for Democrats to realize that this year’s tea party and town hall uprisings were a genuine barometer of widespread public discontent and not simply a staged scenario by kooks and conspirators? […] It was on talk radio, which I have resumed monitoring around the clock because of the healthcare fiasco, that I heard the passionate voices of callers coming directly from the town hall meetings.

Why has the Democratic Party become so arrogantly detached from ordinary Americans? Though they claim to speak for the poor and dispossessed, Democrats have increasingly become the party of an upper-middle-class professional elite, top-heavy with journalists, academics and lawyers (one reason for the hypocritical absence of tort reform in the healthcare bills). Weirdly, given their worship of highly individualistic, secularized self-actualization, such professionals are as a whole amazingly credulous these days about big-government solutions to every social problem. They see no danger in expanding government authority and intrusive, wasteful bureaucracy. This is, I submit, a stunning turn away from the anti-authority and anti-establishment principles of authentic 1960s leftism.

How has “liberty” become the inspirational code word of conservatives rather than liberals? […] I always thought that the Democratic Party is the freedom party — but I must be living in the nostalgic past. […]

[A]ffluent middle-class Democrats now seem to be complacently servile toward authority and automatically believe everything party leaders tell them. Why? Is it because the new professional class is a glossy product of generically institutionalized learning? Independent thought and logical analysis of argument are no longer taught. Elite education in the U.S. has become a frenetic assembly line of competitive college application to schools where ideological brainwashing is so pandemic that it’s invisible.
It’s almost painful to read the lamentations of a JFK Democrat pleading with today’s Democrat establishment. Camille doesn’t realize that the Democrat party has been taken over by leftists. She believes that Obama is a pragmatic rational liberal like herself and all his missteps to date come from the bad advice he’s been getting from his inept advisers.

The idea that Obama’s problems may be self-inflicted is probably too terrible for her to contemplate. Camille doesn’t realize that Obama is a product of the new Democrat Party. The Democrat party of her youth is no more. It has been replaced with a party that is flirting with socialism and dare we say it — communism. Camille is shocked that the anti-establishment hippies of the 60’s now see no problem giving up their freedom to a huge government bureaucracy. Perhaps it’s because those hippies from the ’60s have become the establishment.

As the Democratic Party continues to ignore the advice of open-minded liberals like Camille Paglia and heads down the self-destructive path of radicalism there is a valuable lesson here for conservatives. We should always vote for the most conservative candidate we can find because once he or she gets to Washington . . .

Well, you know what happens. Surrounded by the trappings of seemingly unlimited federal power politicians from both parties seem to be inexorably pulled to the left. Even Reagan couldn’t get rid of the Department of Energy.

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4 replies »

  1. Actually, I wouldn’t say Camille Paglia is “the last of the open-minded liberals.” Alexander Cockburn, while generally allied with the progressive movement, has pulled in his own, often different, direction for quite some time. I also appreciate the work of left-wing contrarians such as Paul Piccone, Christopher Lasch, and Eugene Genovese.

  2. This is my first time i visit here. I found so many interesting stuff in your blog especially its discussion. From the tons of comments on your articles, I guess I am not the only one having all the enjoyment here! keep up the good work.

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