Do yourself a favor and start your day by reading Camille Paglia’s latest column at Salon.com.
You know, as much as I consider myself to be fairly consistent in my political bent, I must admit that I enjoy a bit of commentary that makes common sense regardless of who penned it. Paglia is a Democrat. She makes no effort to hide it. But she’s also the most honest commentator out there — definitely the most honest on the left, but possibly the most honest throughout the political spectrum.
Her latest piece is brutally honest about the failings of the president and the Democratic Party and, save for a few partisan jibes at people like Newt Gingrich and Mark Sanford (as if the Democrats, party of Client No. 9, Gov. Jim McGrabbedme, and the Oval Office Cigar Concealer, don’t have enough marital problems of their own), is spot-on about the Republicans as well.
If I were to excerpt everything I wanted to from Paglia’s piece, I would most certainly get in trouble with the folks at Salon.com. Therefore, I’ll bring you the first four paragraphs — but you’ve got to promise me that you’ll read the whole thing, okay?
What a difference a month makes! When my last controversial column posted on Salon in the second week of August, most Democrats seemed frozen in suspended animation, not daring to criticize the Obama administration’s bungling of healthcare reform lest it give aid and comfort to the GOP. Well, that ice dam sure broke with a roar. Dissident Democrats found their voices, and by late August even the liberal lemmings of the mainstream media, from CBS to CNN, had drastically altered their tone of reportage, from priggish disdain of the town hall insurgency to frank admission of serious problems in the healthcare bills as well as of Obama’s declining national support.
But this tonic dose of truth-telling may be too little too late. As an Obama supporter and contributor, I am outraged at the slowness with which the standing army of Democratic consultants and commentators publicly expressed discontent with the administration’s strategic missteps this year. I suspect there had been private grumbling all along, but the media warhorses failed to speak out when they should have — from week one after the inauguration, when Obama went flat as a rug in letting Congress pass that obscenely bloated stimulus package. Had more Democrats protested, the administration would have felt less arrogantly emboldened to jam through a cap-and-trade bill whose costs have made it virtually impossible for an alarmed public to accept the gargantuan expenses of national healthcare reform. (Who is naive enough to believe that Obama’s plan would be deficit-neutral? Or that major cuts could be achieved without drastic rationing?)
By foolishly trying to reduce all objections to healthcare reform to the malevolence of obstructionist Republicans, Democrats have managed to destroy the national coalition that elected Obama and that is unlikely to be repaired. If Obama fails to win reelection, let the blame be first laid at the door of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who at a pivotal point threw gasoline on the flames by comparing angry American citizens to Nazis. It is theoretically possible that Obama could turn the situation around with a strong speech on healthcare to Congress this week, but after a summer of grisly hemorrhaging, too much damage has been done. At this point, Democrats’ main hope for the 2012 presidential election is that Republicans nominate another hopelessly feeble candidate. Given the GOP’s facility for shooting itself in the foot, that may well happen.
This column has been calling for heads to roll at the White House from the get-go. Thankfully, they do seem to be falling faster — as witness the middle-of-the-night bum’s rush given to “green jobs” czar Van Jones last week — but there’s a long way to go. An example of the provincial amateurism of current White House operations was the way the president’s innocuous back-to-school pep talk got sandbagged by imbecilic support materials soliciting students to write fantasy letters to “help” the president (a coercive directive quickly withdrawn under pressure). Even worse, the entire project was stupidly scheduled to conflict with the busy opening days of class this week, when harried teachers already have their hands full. Comically, some major school districts, including New York City, were not even open yet. And this is the gang who wants to revamp national healthcare?
Furthermore, I must also admit that I’m starting to trend a little isolationist with regard to the war in Afghanistan. While I will not go so far as Paglia does to condemn the Iraq war–how quick the same Democrats who stand up for human rights in Darfur neglected and forgot the plight of Iraqis under Saddam Hussein–I will say that the president of the United States needs to do what it takes to win in Afghanistan, or bring our troops home now. I said the same thing under President Bush before the Petraeus Surge in Iraq. Win or go home.
Back to the health care debate, it seems to me as though Paglia is a shining, endlessly articulate example of most Democrats in the United States of America. They see that their party has been hijacked by the Marxist far left, but they simply cannot bring themselves to vote for a Republican Party depicted by the mainstream media as being hung up on the abortion and gay marriage debate and nothing else. That is, in part, why I’ve been recommending for some time now that the GOP focus on the proper size, scope, role, function and reach of the federal government, and tackle each issue in that same way. While we would not forsake our commitment to life, for instance, a simple question of “how involved do you want government in your daily life?” would go a long way in defeating the statist policies furthered by the current regime.
First and foremost, we need to patch up the holes in the tent above those of us on the right who have been getting soaked by the GOP for too long. We do that by focusing on Jeffersonian principles. A limited federal government. Power concentrated in the several States. Focusing solely on once again bringing about a truly limited federal government would directly counter the steps being taken by this current administration, and would provide that yin and yang, those bold colors rather than pale pastels that Ronald Reagan talked about.
In reading Paglia’s piece, I found myself wondering if she would vote for Barack Obama again in 2012 if he continued along this path, or if she would cast her vote for Democrats in 2010 just the same. I can’t pretend to know and, honestly, this center-right nation certainly doesn’t need her help. Still, it would be nice to see the GOP so completely depart from this president’s message and agenda that people like Paglia would consider voting alongside a newly invigorated conservative right.
In the piece, Paglia notes the GOP’s propensity for shooting itself in the foot. Even she sees that the party must find its conservative roots and maintain that message. Between now and this time next year, it’s up to folks like you and like me to make sure they do.