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Down to the wire

As we enter the final days of this epochal contest, October has given us one surprise after another-- but none quite so surprising as this:  a dark-horse candidate has come out of nowhere and surged into the lead. 

Camille Paglia!

What, you thought I was talking about the election?  Screw the election!  I’m bored with the election.  Besides, the election has been so over ever since Bush landed on that aircraft carrier, or ever since Saddam was found, or ever since the Republican convention, or ever since that devastating ad showed Americans that John Kerry would not defend us from the Minnesota Timberwolves.  It has been over over and over again, people.  And it just happens to be one of those “ironies” that I’ve lost all interest in the election on the very day Kurt and I finally got around to displaying that “best political blogger nominee” tile from Rox Populi.

No, I’m talking about my own special contest, my “I am the Back End of a Horse” Award.  After three and a half weeks in which Townhall, Tech Central Station, the Corner, and various Professors of Law have battled mightily for the coveted hindquarters, Camille Paglia comes roaring into the lead with this recycled gem.  She recently told Reason that her “most embarrassing vote” was for

Bill Clinton the second time around.  Because he did not honorably resign when the Lewinsky scandal broke and instead tied up the country and paralyzed the government for two years, leading directly to our blindsiding by 9/11.

(Via Slate.)

It’s a twofer:  Clinton was responsible for 9/11, sure, we knew that, but he tied up the country and paralyzed the government as well, thereby preventing those brave, vigilant House Republicans from disarming al-Qaeda.

Now, because Camille has said similar things before, this month’s Back End of a Horse Award-- should Paglia remain in first place at the end of the week-- will be more like a recognition of lifetime achievement.  Two years ago, on Sullivan’s Daily Dish, Camille could be found saying, “I blame the media as well as the superstructure of the Democratic party for the appalling delusionalism of the Monica Lewinsky episode, which began in 1998 and consumed the news for two years.” (What is “delusionalism,” you ask?  The end result of delusionalization, of course.) No question, Al Gore would have been given a long honeymoon by the Freepers, the Isikoff-Fineman crew, and the Congressional GOP-- except that four years ago, Professor Paglia could be found in Salon, repeatedly ridiculing and lying about the very guy she believes should have taken office in Clinton’s stead-- Al Gore, who, she now says, would have prevented 9/11 had he won in 2000.

And six years ago, when Clinton ordered missile strikes against al-Qaeda in response to the embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, what was Camille saying?  Funny you should ask!  Why, she was saying this:

The missile attacks Clinton ordered from Martha’s Vineyard this summer were similarly oddly timed to coincide with politically embarrassing events in Washington.

So in 1998, there was Clinton trying to take out bin Laden with a couple of cruise missiles while the House Republicans were making their little origami-diorama replicas of Lewinsky’s kneepad performances in the Oval Office, and there was Paglia, sneering that the missile strikes were diversions from Monica, only a couple of years before she decided that the Democrats were to blame for letting Monica divert us from bin Laden.

I used to refer to Camille as the Howard Stern of academe-- occasionally good for a little amusement amid the outrage, and certainly more savvy about media and celebrity than most of her critics.  But the truth is, she’s not nearly as bright as Howard.  “Incendiary,” yes; “provocative,” I suppose; “voluble,” no question.  But really not very bright, in the end.

This award isn’t wrapped up-- anything can happen, especially in those swing states, and the floor is still open for nominations-- but right now, Paglia is the leading Back End of a Horse.  Remember, only one week left!

Posted by on 10/25 at 09:20 AM
  1. Camille had her 15 years ago. I must say I haven’t given her a thought in about ten years.

    Posted by Roxanne  on  10/25  at  11:51 AM
  2. True enough, but no one told poor David Talbot at Salon, who kept her on life support for years, and no one told those free thinkers at Reason, either.  Personally, I think she jumped the shark at the “Sensation” exhibit in 1999 (siding with Rudy G. over Chris Ofili, no less), and then jumped the very sharkjumping by complaining about The Sopranos‘ portrayals of Italian-Americans after spending a decade decrying “identity politics.” No question, she’s done.

    Posted by  on  10/25  at  11:58 AM
  3. Camille Paglia seems to be trying for her second act by vying with Anne Coulter in the incendiarialization sweepstakes.  She’s still got a long way to go though (Hint:  Try advocating genocide of about 1-1.5 billion of the earth’s population).

    She’s beginning to strike me as a little like Christopher Hitchens in drag.  Without, however, possessing Mr. Hitchens’ acerbic wit or an extensive body of good and valuable work, albeit long ago in the past, which makes watching him these days so painful.

    She needs to dedelusionalize.  Or something.

    Posted by  on  10/25  at  12:01 PM
  4. Michael,

    You’re going back and digging up past contradictory statements by wingnuts?

    You must trying to drive yourself crazy.

    Posted by  on  10/25  at  12:13 PM
  5. The link between the last post and this one is a little tenuous. It really isn’t about animals, you know...it’s about an award named after a metaphorical part of an animal.

    I’m disappointed.

    Is the winner of the contest at least going to be caged in a zoo?

    Posted by PZ Myers  on  10/25  at  12:19 PM
  6. Is that the back end of just any old horse, or the back end of the dead one she’s been flogging for the last few years?

    Posted by  on  10/25  at  12:19 PM
  7. the back end of the horse is too good for her.  she has never been above a hole in the ground for all i can tell.

    Posted by  on  10/25  at  12:56 PM
  8. And to think the late great Gillian Rose thought of Paglia as a friend. Boggles the mind.

    Posted by  on  10/25  at  12:58 PM
  9. My God Paglia has been a tiresome shit fly for so long I almost had her pushed to the outer rims of my consciousness. Thanks for the update, but you do me no favors. I now have to work to sidestep her occasional droppings all over again.

    Posted by  on  10/25  at  01:03 PM
  10. not wanting to be nitpicky Michael, but it’s “voluble” - i was scared there just might be a Freudian slip for “valuable”, god forbid!

    Posted by willchill  on  10/25  at  01:23 PM
  11. When Paglia first burst on the scene, she struck me as the feminist version of Sidney Hook.  As we know, Sid was the guy who would show up in the pages of Bill Buckley’s magazine and say: “I’m a Marxist, but I detest anything that would practically speaking help working people.”

    Camille’s essential line was “I’m a feminist, lesbian, cultural radical, but I hate anyone in the media who might actually fit into one or more of those categories.”

    At this point, however, it is an insult to Sidney Hook to even compare her to Hook.  At least Hook’s factless syllogisms with regard to issues were mostly the result of mere ignorance, not out and out delusions.

    Posted by  on  10/25  at  01:31 PM
  12. Posted by  on  10/25  at  01:37 PM
  13. Damn, willchill, that’s a legit typo right there.  So I went back and fixed it, violation of Blog Protocol though this be.  This is what happens when I don’t double-check the hard words. . . .

    And I agree, let’s not insult Sidney Hook’s memory!  The guy did enough damage to his considerable intelligence while alive.

    Posted by  on  10/25  at  03:04 PM
  14. Right, and Hook’s another one of those Ralph Chaplin/Chris Hitchens figures who was perfectly reasonable and brilliant before he went off the deep end, as opposed to having never had any mooring whatsoever

    Posted by zach  on  10/25  at  03:16 PM
  15. See, Michael, what you need is a “People who ‘lost the plot’ after 9/11” list. You could include Dennis Miller, Judy Miller, the editorial board of the Washington Post, Ron Silver, etc.

    Posted by Roxanne  on  10/25  at  05:07 PM
  16. Camille is so five minutes ago!  But what about
    Ed Koch supporting aWol?  There, my friend, is a
    true nut case.

    Posted by  on  10/25  at  05:23 PM
  17. Posted by  on  10/25  at  05:26 PM
  18. thank you!!

    i would say she had jumped the shark at birth, or at least at her birth into the consciousness of the intellectual dis-unity community (or something), but she was just too busy looking at her reflection in the water to even -see- the shark.

    no shark!! or, perhaps, it was that ta-da!! pose on one of her insufferable, ureadable bits of self-referential historical flotsam.

    oh yuk.

    please, one day when all this is over, could you do madonna?? (if you have not already.) these 2 have always struck me as the defining cultural bookends of the eighties --we know who the political bookends are; these 2 fit right tight w/ them-- Cultural Radicalism as Ayn Rand-ian self-absorption “doing the nasty w/ a black Jesus.” i do believe that is how i read it once, when i was aghast at what i saw during my own birth into cultural consciousness.

    tired here.

    Posted by  on  10/25  at  06:19 PM
  19. DailyKos has your winner:

    Video: Republican candidate supports EXECUTION of GAYS
    by scottmaui
    Mon Oct 25th, 2004 at 09:04:45 GMT

    You’ve got to watch this video.

    My Democratic state Senator here on Maui, J. Kalani English, has a Republican running against him named Robb Finberg.

    Sen. English has brought to my attention this video in which Finberg, a Pastor for the Christian Fellowship Church, actually says that he would support a law for the execution of people found guilty of performing homosexual acts.

    Yes, that’s right, he favors the death penalty for gays.

    Video link and more details after the jump…

    Diaries :: scottmaui’s diary ::

    First, a little background:

    Finberg was interviewed by Forrest Bradford, who has a show called Religious Phonies on local cable access channel AKAKU.

    After explaining his creationist views of history’s timeline, Finberg was asked: “If there was a law that supported the execution of people found guilty of performing homosexual acts, would you support that law?”

    After stating “Unfortunately, nearly 300,000 Americans have suffered the death penalty as a result of homosexual activity,” Finberg answered, “Yes, if it were the law of the land. Yes.”

    The video is hosted on a site exposing Republican Congressional candidate Mike Gabbard, who is challenging my congressman, Rep. Ed Case, for HI-02 (Rural Oahu and neighbor islands). Gabbard was endorsed by Finberg, who said they “share the same beliefs.” Gabbard was a leading figure in the Hawaii constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. See The Gospel According to Gabbard.


    Posted by  on  10/25  at  07:16 PM
  20. Actually, this humble blog has touched on Koch (eeew!) and done D’Souza (much more eeeew!) in the past, but has never fully accounted for the Paglia/Madonna conjuncture.  Maybe sometime after the election/ post-election legal challenges/ eventual 5-4 Supreme Court decision, I’ll spend a day on that epoch-making epoch of the early 1990s.

    Posted by  on  10/25  at  07:43 PM
  21. Micheal is obviously part of the academic elite that is jealous of Camilla’s celebrity and because of that they have kept Camilla from getting a tenured position at a top 10 university even though her Larry King style writtings are some of the best things to never have crossed an editor’s desk and should have secured her a place years ago.

    Posted by  on  10/26  at  07:27 AM
  22. Nope. Probably not.

    Posted by Roxanne  on  10/26  at  08:32 AM
  23. To quote a friend of mine, one shouldn’t read Camille Paglia.  It’s bad for the digestion.

    Posted by  on  10/26  at  12:02 PM
  24. Aww, c’mon… I’m not going to defend much of Camille’s ravings for the past decade, but SEXUAL PERSONAE had some pretty decent exegesese (is that even a word?).  Or am I completely misremembering it?  It sure hit me at the time.  And seemed to be pretty good intellectual corrective to the worst excesses of the MacKinnon/Dworkin set w/r/t porn, “the male gaze” and the new attempts to redefine “obscenity” as “anything we say is offensive to women.”

    For a Canuck, this still means something—you guys have the First Amendment.  We had MacKinnon up here helping us write our atrocious obscenity laws, because she couldn’t get much done in her own country. 

    So at least there was Camille for a while, reminding us that art isn’t about making us feel nice—it’s also about testing limits (society’s, ours, my Mom’s, etc.).  It was also nice to hear a defense of the benefits of Patriarchy, if only again as a corrective to the phallo-phobic culture war 90’s.  Maybe she was of a time that seems far away now, but I’ll still always remember the motormouth fondly.

    I never did get the Madonna obsession, though…

    Posted by  on  10/27  at  07:22 AM
  25. Ah, Adam, now you touch on substantive matters.  Yes, Camille did well to take on Dworkin/MacKinnon.  But lesbian scholar-activists had been doing that for almost a decade, starting with Carol Vance at the 1983 Barnard conference on feminism and sexuality and the Bay Area SAMOIS group (also in the early 1980s) and moving through the publication of Caught Looking in 1986 and the subsequent work of people like Lisa Duggan, Nan Hunter, Linda Williams, Susie Bright, Constance Penley, and Laura Kipnis in the late 1980s (and by this point, obviously, anti-antiporn feminism is no longer confined to lesbian scholar-activists).  So when Paglia arrived in 1991, rehashing a kind of weak version of the “pleasure and danger” school inaugurated by Vance, my reaction was this:  either (a) she knows about the history of anti-antiporn feminism and isn’t letting on, or (b) she doesn’t know about the history of anti-antiporn feminism.  Option (a) makes her a plagiarist; option (b) makes her an ignoramus.  Your call.

    Now, I grant that in 1991 the dominant public impression of academic feminism was that it was censoriously, Podsnappily antiporn.  One of the worst things about that wing of feminism was that it hooked itself up to “media effects” theorists-- you know, the kind of people who argue that popular culture makes kids misbehave.  But hell, it wasn’t for lack of trying on the part of Vance, Duggan et al., who fought MacKinnon at every step.

    MacKinnon did have her victories down here, you know-- in Minneapolis in 1983 and in Indianapolis in 1986, where her alliance with far-right Christian fundamentalists was explicit.  And one of the reasons lesbian scholar-activists opposed her in the US was that when her crusade took hold in Canada, gay/lesbian shops were the first places shut down.

    But I believe in giving credit where credit is due, and in this case, Paglia was a late arrival who gladly took all of the credit for other people’s work.

    Posted by  on  10/27  at  01:11 PM
  26. Joanna Russ published “Power and Helplessness in the Women’s Movement” in 1981, “Being Against Pornography” in 1983 ("And yet there’s something wrong with using pornography, isn’t there? / No."), and the collection “Magic Mommas, Trembling Sisters, Puritans & Perverts” in 1985.

    As a prose stylist, she beats Paglia, too.

    Posted by Ray Davis  on  10/27  at  05:57 PM
  27. Oh yeah!  Sorry I forgot about Joanna Russ.  Ellen Willis was also on the case as early as 1979, arguing in the Village Voice that Women Against Pornography’s equation of porn with rape amounted to a trivialization of rape.

    Posted by Michael  on  10/27  at  11:55 PM
  28. Posted by  on  10/28  at  08:08 AM
  29. Oh, yeah.  And Madonna sucks.  Always has (except, perhaps in “Desperately Seeking Susan” - and I am wink and always will.

    The only time I’ve ever been accused of being homophobic was when a very good gay friend of mine (back then at least) was going on and on about Madonna and all she had done for gays and all, and I said, “she sucks.  On ice.” He goes on and says that before Madonna “Sex was taboo.” I couldn’t stop laughing at that.  I must have dreamed the 70’s when I was a kid.  Maybe it was that acid I dropped in 9th grade or something. .....

    Madonna sucks.

    That Camille Paglia thinks she’s so kewl because she’s Madonna’s #1 booster just makes Camille suck even more.

    When she dies and goes to hell she should be locked up in a room forever with a single damned soul to keep her company- Christopher Hitchens.

    Posted by  on  10/28  at  08:15 AM
  30. Elections is a crap now a day! Who says the new president is our choice? We are all infected by this media disease. They make us select our leaders and they are backed by big mafias.

    Posted by Ceramics Tiles  on  12/14  at  02:28 AM





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