Camille Paglia Applies Old-Fashioned Common Sense

…and thereby misses the real story.

Writing about Hillary Clinton as the prospective Democratic presidential candidate, Camille Paglia asks “What exactly has she ever accomplished?”

Camille, Camille, Camille.

Would anyone have asked, upon George III’s accession to the Kingship, “What exactly has he ever accomplished?”

Would anyone have asked, when Marie Antoinette became the Queen of France, “What exactly has she ever accomplished?”

Would anyone have asked, when Lord Cardigan was named commander of the Light Brigade and his brother-in-law the Earl of Lucan was named overall British cavalry commander in the Crimean War,  “What exactly have they ever accomplished?” (Well, a few people did, but they were pretty much ignored)

Camille, your question reflects the mindset of an earlier America in which it was widely believed that leaders should be selected based on their actual accomplishments.  This didn’t always actually  happen, of course, but at least it was the ideal. But today, our society is being pushed hard in the direction of an aristocratic model wherein elevation to leadership is a matter of factors quite other than a track record of success in performing whatever tasks the leader is supposed to be carrying out. This transformation is largely complete in the field of politics, and is rapidly advancing in other areas of American life as well.

Hillary Clinton is a member of a political family–a member by marriage, it is true, but still a member. She attended an Ivy League college. She vacations in the Hamptons. She is popular with members of the entertainment industry. She has name recognition among people whose reading does not go past the celebrity magazines on the rack at the supermarket checkout stand.

These are the things that matter today in identifying an aristocrat who is qualified for high political office. Actual accomplishments, actual failures (see Benghazi, see indeed the whole Middle East) are of minor significance by comparison.

America is falling increasingly under the domination of a political aristocracy of great power and privilege: an aristocracy, moreover, which imposes very little in the way of responsibilities on itself. We are getting the social rigidity and the incompetence in high places that tend to be associated with the aristocratic form of government, without any of the partially-offsetting virtues that historical aristocracies have sometimes developed.


23 thoughts on “Camille Paglia Applies Old-Fashioned Common Sense”

  1. She has just finished her term as Sec State and did a very good job in difficult circumstances. There are few tougher government positions. You could do far worse.

    From all of Canada: thanks for talking Cruz off our hands, we are so glad to see him go.

    Camilia has almost reached sentience. The American Thinker ROTFLMFAO.

  2. “She has just finished her term as Sec State and did a very good job in difficult circumstances.”

    PenGun, you forgot the /sarc tag.

    “You could do far worse.”

    And we likely will – but we could do infinitely better, too. Say, by electing a moldy ham sandwich.

  3. “Bill and Hillary’s Hamptons Holiday: What the Clintons tell us about American democracy” by Matthew Continetti on August 23, 2013

    “The holdouts who still believe politics is anything other than the struggle of families, whether nuclear or extended or tribal or national, for power over material resources cannot be familiar with the lives of Bill and Hillary Clinton.”

    * * *

    “The Clintons are perennials, giant corpse flowers whose periodic bloom overwhelms the surrounding environment.”

    * * *

    “Highly educated, professional, supremely confident, clever, versed in the rhetoric of domestic and foreign policy, mouthing pieties about America’s middle class while operating within an Elysium of their own design, having the ability to slip conventional opinions on and off like well-pressed pantsuits, the Clintons represent like no others the meritocratic bourgeois liberal caste that manages the West.”

    * * *

    “In the Hamptons the Clintons spend time with the usual suspects, the names that appear on our front-pages, the faces on our television screens, the people for whom the Aspen Ideas Festival represents cutting-edge thinking and Davos and Bilderberg are places where common-sense folks get things done.”

    * * *

    “For much of the year Hillary Clinton’s triumphal march to the White House has had the trappings of a transfer of power in Imperial Rome: a spirited denunciation of the patrician Senate, a well-coordinated joint interview and photo opportunity with the current emperor, prominent speeches to the tribunes of the people, all set to a soundtrack of laudatory media and exhortations from powerful Democrats that would make even the most shameless propagandist blush.”

    * * *

    “Chelsea ‘has to learn how to deal with the whole world because she wants to follow in the footsteps of her father and her mother.’ Oh joy.

    “Following in those footsteps would mean setting up organizations that rely on pledges from major corporations while your associates establish consulting firms charging those same corporations for “strategic advice.”

    “Following in those footsteps would mean flying the banner of “charity” while you act as the middleman between multinational conglomerates and corrupt and indebted third-world governments.

    “Following in those footsteps would mean relying on a cast of veteran stooges despite past failures and leaks to the press as they scramble to inflate their reputations at the cost of your own.

    “Following in those footsteps means diverting a portion of the money pledged to the latest cause of the global elite, and using it to maintain habits of consumption and leisure worthy of Kublai Khan’s stately pleasure dome.

    “Most of all, though, following in those footsteps means indelibly conflating the good of the world with the good of yourself, your family, your clique, your tribe: of covering your trade in access, influence, and reputation with the houndstooth blanket of liberation and empowerment and public health and green energy and economic integration.”

  4. “She has just finished her term as Sec State and did a very good job in difficult circumstances. There are few tougher government positions. You could do far worse.”

    PenGun, I believe we could and will soon have the opportunity to evaluate John Kerry’s performance. If anyone is a worse phony than Hillary, it is Kerry.

  5. The Clintons have always reminded me of the Thénardiers (the scumbag innkeepers in Les Miserables.)

  6. How about the American Franchise 3.0?

    Democracy is the FINAL step of self-governance.   You are saying that the citizens are mature, law abiding, and self-governing enough to be entrusted with the public office of elector, the Franchise .

    Indeed these American Citizens 3.0 need to concentrate on governance and watching the hired help I think we’ll never trust again, the Citizen Electors job is governance and they should avoid politics as contaigon.

  7. David, good insights.

    A disturbing trend and validated in the most recent Presidential election–the Rock Star was anointed for 4 more years based on what? Your point exactly.

  8. Well, Hillary was a top student at Yale Law School, which is one of the most selective law schools in the country. So that’s an accomplishment (albeit about 40 years in the past) but not one that’s usually considered a qualification to move directly to the presidency. So, while I don’t doubt her high intelligence, I agree she has no significant public accomplishments to qualify her for the White House. Of course, neither did Obama or George W Bush.

    On a pedantic note, she did not go to an Ivy League college, but one of the “seven sisters,” which I guess was the feminine equivalent of the Ivy League (then all-male) at the time. Yale is in the Ivy League, but she went there for law school, not college.

  9. Bush, at least, had been a governor. I was disappointed in him and had supported McCain in the 2000 primaries but what has followed Bush is enough to destroy whatever confidence I had in the electorate.

  10. @Michael Kennedy

    You point out that George W Bush had been a governor (which, in Texas, is not a terribly powerful office). Hillary has been a senator and secretary of state. I don’t think either of them accomplished anything of significance in these offices.

    If your point is that being a governor is an experience more relevant to the presidency because it is an “executive” office – that’s a piece of conventional Republican wisdom I don’t buy. Obama is a disaster for the country, but his lack of prior “executive” experience is not preventing him from forcing most of his hateful agenda down the country’s throat. By the same token, the greatest president (Lincoln) had zero pre-presidential executive experience.

  11. ” I don’t think either of them accomplished anything of significance in these offices.”

    I kind of agree and was disappointed in Bush from whom I expected better economic action. I think he was distracted by Iraq and the decisions that were required. He never got focused on economics ad relied on Greenspan’s disastrous advice. In 1987, Greenspan was worried about “irrational exuberance.” In 2006, he seemed to be asleep or senile. In 1929, at least Ben Strong had the excuse he was dead.

    Hillary has been a failure as Sec State, partly because Obama’s government is run by secret inner circle folks like Valerie Jarrett.

  12. @MikeK

    When I said neither Bush nor Hillary “accomplished anything of significance in these offices,” I was talking about pre-presidential offices – in Bush’s case, his tenure as governor of Texas. If he had any great accomplishment as governor of Texas – something above and beyond what you would expect from the average politician operating at that level – I haven’t heard about it.

    I think it’s indisputable that Bush was, over-all, a failure as president, although he did have some successes (particularly, no follow-up attack to 9/11).

  13. As TX governor, Bush got a major tort reform passed. He also didn’t screw anything up, which is important.

    I dispute that Bush was an overall failure as president. I think that his handling of foreign affairs was pretty good, occasionally brilliant, particularly during his first term, and I suspect that his reputation will eventually (decades) be rehabilitated.

  14. I don’t agree that Bush was “a failure” because he was presented with terrible choices after only 6 months in office and many of his senior appointments held up by Democrat rage at the 2000 election. He ended up leaving Justice full of Clinton people which is still causing serious trouble.

    I think he was badly served by Powell at State and by Tony Blair who trapped him into that UN resolution.

    Given the 9/11 attack what should he have done? The supposed reason was our presence in Saudi. Should we have packed up and left ? We did move to Qatar and there was no talk about it because it was overshadowed by the invasion of Iraq. The invasion caused Iran to stop uranium processing and got Gaddafi to give up his WMD. Obama has now proven how big a mistake that was and we will never seen another dictator follow suit.

    The big f**k up in Iraq was by State and Bremer. If we had put the exiles in charge and left a token force to kick a** when needed, we might well have avoided much of the insurgency. Maybe not but we could not have done worse.

    Afghanistan was done right and only the arrival of Big Army screwed that up. We should have left that a Special Forces Theater.

    I don’t see how Bush could have avoided all the flack from Democrats, who also trashed Nixon after he pulled their nuts out of Vietnam. No good deed goes unpunished by Democrats. Clinton and his feckless policies led to 9/11 but Bush got the check.

  15. “She has just finished her term as Sec State and did a very good job in difficult circumstances.”

    Nothing happened at Benghazi, just move alone…

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