Paglia: Speech and Stimulus

February 12th, 2009

As I noted previously, Camille Paglia has a column once each month at Salon.com.  Her February column, published yesterday, is another gem.  In addition to other topics, she wrote about the Fairness Doctrine: 

Speaking of talk radio (which I listen to constantly), I remain incredulous that any Democrat who professes liberal values would give a moment’s thought to supporting a return of the Fairness Doctrine to muzzle conservative shows. (My latest manifesto on this subject appeared in my last column.) The failure of liberals to master the vibrant medium of talk radio remains puzzling. To reach the radio audience (whether the topic is sports, politics or car repair), a host must have populist instincts and use the robust common voice. Too many Democrats have become arrogant elitists, speaking down in snide, condescending tones toward tradition-minded middle Americans whom they stereotype as rubes and buffoons. But the bottom line is that government surveillance of the ideological content of talk radio is a shocking first step toward totalitarianism.

She continued:

One of the nuggets I’ve gleaned from several radio sources is that Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow, who has been in the aggressive forefront of the campaign to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine, is married to Tom Athans, who works extensively with left-wing radio organizations and was once the executive vice-president of Air America, the liberal radio syndicate that, despite massive publicity from major media, has failed miserably to win a national audience. Stabenow’s outrageous conflict of interest has of course been largely ignored by the prestige press, which should have been demanding that she recuse herself from all political involvement with this issue.

On the economic stimulus plan: 

Money by the barrelful, by the truckload. Mountains of money, heaped like gassy pyramids in the national dump. Scrounging packs of politicos, snapping, snarling and sending green bills flying sky-high as they root through the tangled mass with ragged claws. The stale hot air filled with cries of rage, the gnashing of teeth and dark prophecies of doom.

Yes, this grotesque scene, like a claustrophobic circle in Dante’s “Inferno,” was what the U.S. government has looked like for the past two weeks as it fights on over Barack Obama’s stimulus package — a mammoth, chaotic grab bag of treasures, toys and gimcracks. Could popular opinion of our feckless Congress sink any lower? You betcha!

Why in the cosmos would the new administration, smoothly sailing out of Obama’s classy inauguration, repeat the embarrassing blunders of Bill Clinton’s first term? By foolishly promising a complete overhaul of healthcare within 100 days (and by putting his secretive, ill-prepared wife in charge of it), Clinton made himself look naive and incompetent and set healthcare reform back for more than 15 years.

President Obama was ill-served by his advisors (shall we thump that checkered piñata, Rahm Emanuel?), who evidently did not help him to produce a strong, focused, coherent bill that he could have explained and defended to the nation before it was set upon by partisan wolves. To defer to the House of Representatives and let the bill be thrown together by cacophonous mob rule made the president seem passive and behind the curve.

Most mainstream American voters are undoubtedly suffering from economist fatigue these days. This one calls for tax cuts; that one condemns them. One says we’re wasting hundreds of billions of dollars; the other claims that sum falls pathetically short. A plague on all their houses! Surely common sense would dictate that when Congress is doling out fat dollops of taxpayers’ money, due time should be delegated for sober consideration and debate. The administration’s coercive rush toward instant action, accompanied by apocalyptic pronouncements of imminent catastrophe, has put its own credibility on the line.

Read the whole column; there’s much more.

(This article was also posted at Centerfield.)


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Categories: Economics, Media, Politics | Comments (6) | Home

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6 Responses to “Paglia: Speech and Stimulus”



  1. rob |

    Very interesting. Thanks for sharing!

    OT (Geert Wilders): Have you read this?
    Oriana Fallaci must be turning in her grave!


  2. MOC |

    There is no way that the American people will stand for this nonsense! Believe me that we will take to the streets if our “Free Speech” is infringed upon by the current administration….


  3. Tom |

    rob, I just can’t understand what’s happening with the Brits and this Geert Wilders business. They’ll tolerate blatant hate speech in grimy little store-front mosques all over the country, but they throw out Wilders because he has a different point of view. Pathetic.


  4. Carla Axtman |

    In the U.S., the public owns the airwaves. They were first leased to news organizations and others whose job it was to generate programming in the public interest.

    Frankly, the Fairness Doctrine should return. Despite Paglia’s wallowing in her perception of knuckle-dragging Democrats who only want to squelch conservative talk, the public interest isn’t served in only hearing one side.

    The publicly owned airwaves aren’t an exercise in the free market, or at least they shouldn’t be. Perhaps Ms. Paglia might consider that “arrogant elitism” resides in the eye of the beholder, and a long, studied look in the mirror could potentially produce some appropriate circumspection for her in its own right.

    Ms. Pagila might consider training her acidic pen in the direction of those who seek to block this particular idea as well. Individuals such as Oregon Congressman Greg Walden, whose family owns a network of right-wing radio stations in the state. There are two sides to that coin she’s polishing.

    On the jobs package (that she refers to as stimulus),her tin ear once again rules. While the bill should not have become the hostage of a tax-cut rabid Republican caucus who won’t vote for it anyway, Obama came out the other side of the experience far better in the eyes of the public than did his ideological counterparts. Rarely have the GOP appeared more petulant and bratty than they did this week, with Boehner going so far as to throw a paper version of the bill on the floor in a fit of tantrum.


  5. Carla Axtman |

    Ms. Pagila might consider training her acidic pen in the direction of those who seek to block this particular idea as well. Individuals such as Oregon Congressman Greg Walden, whose family owns a network of right-wing radio stations in the state. There are two sides to that coin she’s polishing.

    This paragraph should read:

    Ms. Pagila might consider training her acidic pen in the direction of those who seek to block this particular idea as well. Individuals such as Oregon Congressman Greg Walden, whose family owns a network of right-wing radio stations in the state, for example. There are two sides to that coin she’s polishing.

    Sorry.


  6. Brian |

    Carla, you seem to be an apologist for the state dictating what gets said (and what does not get said) on the airwaves. You keep poor company. The most murderous thugs of the 20th century held the same view.

    The airwaves may be “owned by the public,” but the stations themselves are commercial interests owned by shareholders. If you put the state in control over content, the shareholders and listeners will abandon ship. Do you honestly believe that state-sponsored programming will increase listenership to leftist points of view?

    Years ago, Dan Patrick, owner of AM 700 KSEV in Houston, tried his own “fairness doctrine” by hiring a very liberal talk-show host (Roger Gray). He had to end up firing Gray because none of Patrick’s advertisers wanted to buy time on the liberal show because the audience was so small.

    Do you also advocate for a fairness doctrine for the internet, television, and print media as well?


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