Little Star

Paglia on Palin

From today’s Sunday Times, Camille Paglia on Sarah Palin:

In the US, the ultimate glass ceiling has been fiendishly complicated for women. Our president must also serve as commander-in-chief of the armed forces, so a woman candidate for president must show a potential capacity for military affairs and decision-making. As a dissident feminist, I have been arguing for 20 years that young American women aspiring to political power should be studying military history rather than women’s studies with their rote agenda of never-ending grievances.

The gun-toting Palin is 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 suffrage was passed in 1919. Frontier women faced the same harsh challenges and had to tackle the same chores as men, which is why men could regard them as equals — unlike the genteel, corseted ladies of the eastern seaboard… Feminism, which should be about equal rights and equal opportunity, should not be a closed club requiring an ideological litmus test for membership.

My other half once suggested a political thought experiment. When deciding who to vote for, you should try to imagine that the country has been invaded and the streets are teeming with Nazis, Communists, aliens or some other uncongenial presence. Can you picture your PM or president among the last line of resistance, gun in hand, fighting to the bitter end?

Well, I can’t picture Obama doing that. For one thing, his neck is just too thin. More importantly, in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 atrocities, Obama urged Americans to “[understand] the sources of such madness” and the “fundamental absence of empathy on the part of the attackers” – both of which, he maintained, had nothing at all to do with any particular religion and how it is taught, but instead “grows out of a climate of poverty and ignorance, helplessness and despair.”

I can, however, picture McCain and Palin leaning out of a White House window wielding automatic firearms. And, improbable as that scenario may be, I think the ability to picture it matters.