Belmont Club

Run away, run, run, run away

Camille Paglia is afraid that it may be too late for Barack Obama to turn his Presidency from an impending debacle brought about, she thinks, from a series of unperceived missteps. Why unperceived? Because of groupthink, collective blindness and a failure of critical thinking among the comrades. Most of her article in Salon is devoted to examining what went wrong.

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. … letting Congress pass that obscenely bloated stimulus package … 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 …

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? First of all, too many political analysts still think that network and cable TV chat shows are the central forums of national debate. …

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. … The Democratic brain has been marinating so long in those clichés that it’s positively pickled.

Paglia is one of those people on the Left who are unable to disengage their brains. For Paglia, facts still matter. Contrary to popular opinion, there have been many of those among the Progressives. But their fate is widely known. Paglia will be humored on the strength of her reputation; she will be allowed liberties. Later, she may be mildly reproved. But eventually they’ll give her the message, and what happens next is up to her.  The record of history is clear. The Left has rarely been destroyed by its foes. That job has been accomplished largely by itself.

“If only Stalin knew!” For how many were these the last words in exile, in isolation — or worse? The very unity that gives the Left an inhuman strength is also its greatest weakness. Groupthink is its curse, some would say its fate. It thinks, indeed it must think, like a hive. And it may, as Paglia fears, be too late for Obama to turn things around, but that moment was foreordained from the moment he made his zero-sum move. Paglia still believes Obama was about “progress”; she misunderstands: it was all about power. The locomotive of history wavers not — until it goes off the cliff. Paglia can see it, but hesitates to make a clean break. It’s hard after all, because collectivity is a hideous strength.

The hardest thing of all was not to be blind to Obama’s mistakes, but to ignore the fact that everyone saw the errors and kept it to themselves.


Tip Jar or Subscribe for $5