Camille Paglia takes aim at Barack Obama in responding to correspondents at Salon today. Not only does she blast Obama for a series of embarrassing gaffes, including the bow to King Abdullah, she blames the media for letting him off the hook. The result? A boon for Republicans (via Instapundit):
Arriving at the White House, he understandably stayed in his comfort zone by bringing old friends and allies with him — a team that had had a fabulous success in devising the hard-as-nails strategy that toppled the Clintons, like crumbling colossi, into yesterday’s news. But these comrades may not have the practical skills or broad perspective to help Obama govern. Like Shakespeare’s Prince Hal ascending the throne, Obama may have to steel his heart and banish Falstaff and the whole frat-house crew.
Obama’s staffing problems are blatant — from that bleating boy of a treasury secretary to what appears to be a total vacuum where a chief of protocol should be. There has been one needless gaffe after another — from the president’s tacky appearance on a late-night comedy show to the kitsch gifts given to the British prime minister, followed by the sweater-clad first lady’s over-familiarity with the queen and culminating in the jaw-dropping spectacle of a president of the United States bowing to the king of Saudi Arabia. Why was protest about the latter indignity confined to conservatives? The silence of the major media was a disgrace. But I attribute that embarrassing incident not to Obama’s sinister or naive appeasement of the Muslim world but to a simple if costly breakdown in basic command of protocol. …
Whether the Obama presidency succeeds or fails will depend on his ability to sustain his ideals in the face of the testing crises that will inevitably erupt in far-flung regions where ethnic or religious strife has been a way of life for thousands of years. And closer to home, Obama will need to cut the umbilical to his hometown posse, whose inefficiency and poor decision-making took the shine off his honeymoon and brought the dispirited Republicans back from the dead.
Interestingly, though, Paglia may have diagnosed the source of the problem incorrectly. She assumes that Obama brought his “hometown posse” to the White House, perhaps focusing too closely on David Axelrod and Robert Gibbs. Al Kamen at the Washington Post reported earlier this week that Obama’s administration has been closer to a Clintonista Full Employment Program:
Does it sometimes feel as if the Obama administration is mostly Clinton redux? There’s a reason for that. Fully 42 percent of Team Obama’s picks for Senate-confirmed positions so far worked in the Clinton administration.
And if they appear to come from elite, private schools, well, they do. In fact, about one-fourth of those named so far either attended or taught at Harvard, to name just one esteemed institution. On another front, men are outnumbering women by more than 2 to 1 in the top jobs.
That’s a point that commentators have missed. Why do men outnumber women in these jobs 2-1? Is that Hope and Change?
Paglia starts off the answer to her correspondent by stating that the buck stops with the President, but then blames his Chicago-based staff for most of the stumbles and gaffes. Unfortunately, that’s just not accurate. If protocol has run off the rails, and the bow to Abdullah demonstrated that very clearly, then Obama’s failure to staff his White House Office of Protocol is the cause. The problem is not that Obama’s been cocooned; it’s that Obama has no executive experience, and it’s showing very clearly.
Will he get better? Hopefully he won’t get any worse. And somehow, I don’t think the media will get any better, either.
Addendum: The most entertaining part of Paglia’s column actually comes from one of her readers, who gives a hilarious deconstruction of Kate Winslet’s character in Titanic. Be sure to read it.