Paglia on Pelosi and Health Care

November 11th, 2009

By Tom Carter

Paglia3Camille Paglia’s monthly column was published today at Salon.com.

She discusses everything from Nancy Pelosi’s performance as Speaker of the House, health care reform, health care in other countries, and Obama’s decision on Afghanistan to Richard Dawkins on atheism, the study of anthropology, pop music, Madonna’s latest escapades, and more.  As always, it’s worth the time to read.  A few excerpts:

On Pelosi and passage of the House health care bill:

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi scored a giant gain for feminism last weekend. In shoving her controversy-plagued healthcare reform bill to victory by a paper-thin margin, she conclusively demonstrated that a woman can be just as gritty, ruthless and arm-twisting in pursuing her agenda as anyone in the long line of fabled male speakers before her. Even a basic feminist shibboleth like abortion rights became just another card for Pelosi to deal and swap.

It was a stunningly impressive recovery for someone who seemed to be coming apart at the seams last summer, when a sputtering, rattled Pelosi struggled to deal with the nationwide insurgency of town hall protesters — reputable, concerned citizens whom she outrageously tried to tar as Nazis. … Pelosi’s hard-won, trench-warfare win sets a new standard for U.S. women politicians and is certainly well beyond anything the posturing but ineffectual Hillary Clinton has ever achieved.

On the House health care bill itself:

As for the actual content of the House healthcare bill, horrors! Where to begin? That there are serious deficiencies and injustices in the U.S. healthcare system has been obvious for decades. To bring the poor and vulnerable into the fold has been a high ideal and an urgent goal for most Democrats. But this rigid, intrusive and grotesquely expensive bill is a nightmare. Holy Hygeia, why can’t my fellow Democrats see that the creation of another huge, inefficient federal bureaucracy would slow and disrupt the delivery of basic healthcare and subject us all to a labyrinthine mass of incompetent, unaccountable petty dictators? Massively expanding the number of healthcare consumers without making due provision for the production of more healthcare providers means that we’re hurtling toward a staggering logjam of de facto rationing. Steel yourself for the deafening screams from the careerist professional class of limousine liberals when they get stranded for hours in the jammed, jostling anterooms of doctors’ offices. They’ll probably try to hire Caribbean nannies as ringers to do the waiting for them.

A second issue souring me on this bill is its failure to include the most common-sense clause to increase competition and drive down prices: portability of health insurance across state lines. … Finally, no healthcare bill is worth the paper it’s printed on when the authors ostentatiously exempt themselves from its rules. The solipsistic members of Congress want us peons to be ground up in the communal machine, while they themselves gambol on in the flowering meadow of their own lavish federal health plan. Hypocrites! …

Republicans, on the other hand, have basically sat on their asses about healthcare reform for the past 20 years and have shown little interest in crafting legislative solutions to social inequities.

On comparisons with health care systems in other countries:

International models of socialized medicine have been developed for nations and populations that are usually vastly smaller than our own. There are positives and negatives in their system as in ours. So what’s the point of this trade? The plight of the uninsured (whose number is far less than claimed) should be directly addressed without co-opting and destroying the entire U.S. medical infrastructure. …

On paying for the bill by cutting Medicare:

How dare anyone claim humane aims for this bill anyhow when its funding is based on a slashing of Medicare by over $400 billion? The brutal abandonment of the elderly here is unconscionable. One would have expected a Democratic proposal to include an expansion of Medicare, certainly not its gutting. The passive acquiescence of liberal commentators to this vandalism simply demonstrates how partisan ideology ultimately desensitizes the mind. …

On President Obama:

The administration has seemed to be drifting lately. Obama has dithered for months about a strategy for Afghanistan — another rats’ nest we should pull our troops out of overnight. Then there was the bizarre disproportion in Obama’s flying to Denmark to flog a Chicago Olympics yet not having time to make it to Germany to celebrate the fall of the Berlin Wall — which suggests a frivolous provincialism as well as ignorance of history among the president’s principal advisors. And Obama’s muted response to last week’s massacre at Fort Hood has exposed ambiguities and uncertainties in the U.S. government and military about how to respond to homegrown militant Islam. The presidency is a heavy burden — a prize that can become a curse.

On Richard Dawkins, atheism, and religion:

I was recently flicking my car radio dial and heard an affected British voice tinkling out on NPR. I assumed it was some fussy, gossipy opera expert fresh from London. To my astonishment, it was Richard Dawkins, the thrice-married emperor of contemporary atheists. I had never heard him speak, so it was a revelation. On science, Dawkins was spot on — lively and nimble. But on religion, his voice went “Psycho” weird (yes, Alfred Hitchcock) — as if he was channeling some old woman with whom he was in love-hate combat. …  As an atheist who respects and studies religion, I believe it is fair to ask what drives obsessive denigrators of religion. Neither extreme rationalism nor elite cynicism are adequate substitutes for faith, which fulfills a basic human need — which is why religion will continue to thrive in our war-torn world.


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4 Responses to “Paglia on Pelosi and Health Care”



  1. Brianna |

    I like this woman already. I may have to start reading her column.


  2. Harvey |

    Paglia may be a Democrat but she appears to be a Conservative Democrat — I thought Joe Lieberman was the only Conservative Democrat!


  3. Tom |

    Here’s the way I described Paglia in January in Camille Paglia Unleashed:

    It’s not exactly accurate to refer to Camille Paglia as “unleashed” because she’s never been on a leash. She’s an intellectual, a professor, an author, a liberal, a feminist, an atheist, a Democrat, and a supporter of Barack Obama. Yet she respects conservatives, even to the point of listening to and enjoying Rush Limbaugh; she’s critical of doctrinaire feminists; she’s doubtful about global warming; she strongly opposes the liberal tendency to suppress speech they disapprove of; she respects religion even though she doesn’t have religious faith; and she challenges gay activists on closely-held beliefs. To say that she’s controversial is a gross understatement. She is what an intellectual should be — an intelligent, educated person who has the courage and strength of mind to breach all boundaries of orthodoxy. We could use more thinkers like her.

    Her sole online presence is the monthly column at Salon.com, published on the second Wednesday of each month. Every third column is her responses to questions and comments from readers, and those are some of the best. I strongly recommend her columns to anyone, liberal or conservative, who has an open mind and doesn’t mind being taken to the woodshed now and then.


  4. Brian Bagent |

    I only have an issue with one of her statements. There is no such thing as “extreme rationalism.” A thing or idea is either rational or it is not rational, or it cannot be judged by rational standards at all. None of these cases allows for an “extreme,” only what is or is not the case. Rationalism itself precludes “extremes,” dealing only with “yes” and “no,” with “1” and “0”, with “black” and “white.”

    There is a branch of logic called modal logic which deals adequately with things or ideas analogous to “how many grains of sand does it take to make a pile of sand?”, but even modal logic is ultimately about yes or no within a given probability.

    Where we find extremes is in the irrational, the emotive; but in no case can we find it in rationalism.


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