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Will Trump Pass the Ultimate Test?

[ 125 ] February 17, 2016 |

Farenheit 911 still

As we recently discussed, this weekend Donald Trump uttered the ultimate Republican heresy, invoking the kooky conspiracy theory that George W. Bush was president on September 11, 2001. This flies directly in the face of the rock-solid Republican orthodoxy that George W. Bush Kept Us Safe (With Notably Rare Exceptions.) Will be pay a price? Well:

PPP’s new South Carolina poll continues to find Donald Trump with a wide lead in the state. He’s at 35% to 18% each for Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, 10% for John Kasich, and 7% each for Jeb Bush and Ben Carson.

What’s striking about Trump’s support is how consistent it is across different demographic groups- he’s at 41% with ‘somewhat conservative’ voters, 40% with younger voters, 38% with men, 36% with self identified Republicans, 35% with Evangelicals, 35% with middle aged voters, 34% with non-Evangelicals, 31% with women, 30% with self identified independents, 30% with ‘very conservative’ voters, 30% with seniors, and 29% with moderates. He has a lead of some size within every single one of those groups, similar to what he was able to do in New Hampshire.

CNN has similar results. Even the polls-plus 538 analysis gives him a 74% chance of winning.

This isn’t to say that Trump is a mortal lock to win the nomination. South Carolina voters do seem to have responded to the Rubiobot’s new software, and Trump’s particularly aggressive attacks on the party he’s trying to lead might hurt him more down the road. But the fact that he can say what he did and still probably win in South Carolina is amazing in itself.

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The Looming Crisis Over Supreme Court Nominations

[ 252 ] February 16, 2016 |

MItch McConnell

Whether or not it happens in 2017 — and it could! — a constitutional crisis over Supreme Court nominations is almost certain to happen inevitably. In my howlingly unfunny debut at the New Republic, I explain why:

If President Clinton or Sanders faces a Republican-controlled Senate, though, all bets are off. The conventional wisdom is that Republicans will simply not be able to institute a blanket ban on Democratic nominees. Supreme Court nominations will have been unusually central to the recently completed election, and Clinton or Sanders would claim a mandate to appoint Scalia’s replacement. Pressure from the media, voters, and probably other justices would mount, leading a handful of blue-state Republican senators to defect.

This is certainly possible, but it would be foolish to simply assume that it will happen. A “mandate” is not actually some magic source of power—a president’s mandate on Supreme Court appointments is what the Senate says it is. Marginal Republicans will face powerful countervailing pressures from congressional colleagues, interest groups, and base voters. Any Republican senator who votes to put a liberal on the Supreme Court would almost certainly face a fierce primary challenge.

Serially obstructing Supreme Court nominees would probably be bad for the popularity of the Republican Party, but senators are surely aware of the paradox demonstrated in 2012 and 2014: Actions that are bad for the Republican Party as a whole aren’t necessarily bad for individual Republican members of Congress.

This would, in other words, be simply uncharted territory. Anyone who has watched Senate Republicans perfect constitutional hardball cannot have any certainty that they will adhere to previous norms and prevent a vacancy from persisting for years.

Even if a constitutional crisis is averted in 2017 by either one party controlling both the White House and Senate or a Senate majority acquiescing to a president of the opposite party, a breakdown in the Supreme Court nomination process is almost certainly coming down the road. The advice and consent process established by the Constitution isn’t well adapted to disciplined, ideologically cohesive parties, and the evolution in partisan configuration will have mutually reinforcing effects.

The Supreme Court has typically been a centrist institution, and since early in the Nixon administration the typical median vote on the Court on politically salient issues has been a country-club Republican: Potter Stewart, Lewis Powell, Sandra Day O’Connor, and/or Anthony Kennedy.

But as the University of Maryland legal scholar Mark Graber argued in an important recent paper, there is nothing natural or inevitable about this. The typical centrism of the Court was driven by two factors—ideologically heterogeneous parties and relative elite consensus—that have vanished. Moderate Republicans will not control the Court, because for all intents and purposes they no longer exist. For the foreseeable future, the median vote on the Court will reliably vote with the liberal or conservative faction on politically salient issues, and the gap between liberal and conservative constitutional visions is likely to get wider.

As the stakes of Supreme Court nominations get ever higher, getting Court vacancies filled during periods of divided government is going to become increasingly difficult. Depending on the results of the 2016 elections, this dysfunctional future could very soon become our present.

Party polarization, in other words, will create a mutually reinforcing cycle that will escalate conflicts over Supreme Court nominations. Norms of Senate deference were sustainable in part because party coalitions were loose and in part because the Supreme Court generally produced outcomes that were acceptable to most political elites. Even as elites have become more polarized, the Court has given enough wins to both sides that as long as someone like Kennedy remained the median vote an opposition Senate would confirm a replacement. Scalia’s death ends this era, and everyone knows it. It’s a serious problem.

Ian has more on the institutional roots of the inevitable crisis. Giving the Senate full veto power over executive and judicial branch appointments with no mechanism for resolving a deadlock was a really bad idea, and it’s frankly amazing that the system has remained functional for as long as it has. The luck of the Founders is about to run out.

Has Scalia’s “Originalism” Been Particularly Important?

[ 37 ] February 16, 2016 |

scalia

To follow up on my previous post, Eric Posner effectively explains that the answer is “no”:

Only Justice Clarence Thomas, who has become increasingly isolated, has tried to use originalism in a consistent way. The three other Republican-appointed justices—Roberts, Kennedy, and Samuel Alito—are not originalists, nor are the four justices appointed by Democratic presidents. These justices decide cases the way justices always have: by using whatever materials at hand—historical sources, yes, but also (and mainly) judicial precedents, common sense, general principles, political values, and so on—to generate outcomes that pretty reliably track their ideological priors.

[…]

This is why originalism has no staying power except as a slogan. When Sen. Ted Cruz says that he will appoint an originalist if he wins the presidency, he means that he would appoint a justice who will vote to overturn Roe v. Wade and strike down economic regulation like Obamacare.

According to John Dean, William Rehnquist once said that a “strict constructionist judge is one who favors criminal prosecutors over criminal defendants, and civil rights defendants over civil rights plaintiffs.” Originalism, for all intents in purposes, is just the new strict constructionism in this sense.

Did Scalia Really Have an Outsized Influence on the Court?

[ 113 ] February 15, 2016 |

supreme-court-justices-john-roberts-antonin-scalia-10

Scocca and Pareene had an interesting exchange about how to evaluate Scalia’s legacy. I’m closer to the former. Pareene:

In a sense, his project wasn’t new. The Supreme Court has been conservative for a long, long time, and if Antonin Scalia had sat on the court for the last 200 years instead of 30, he would have written a concurrence in Dred Scott, the majority opinion in Plessy v. Ferguson, and a devilishly quotable dissent in Brown v. Board of Education. But he was the embodiment of the new kind of conservative jurist, who sought not just to maintain some favorable status quo, but (ironically) to use the courts to remake society. Before Scalia, the notions that Congress couldn’t restrict political spending, or that the Second Amendment guaranteed an individual’s right to private firearm ownership for self-defense, were widely considered absurd. Now they’re accepted precedent, with today’s liberals arguing how to legislate around the margins of those decisions.

There’s a tension between the setup and a conclusion of the paragraph, and I think the first part actually gets it right. Had Reagan nominated Robert Bork or Ken Starr instead of Scalia, the outcomes in all the cases Pareene mentions would have been the same. The Second Amendment containing an individual right to bear arms didn’t become conservative orthodoxy because of Scalia; it was a triumph of conservative activism and academia that culminated in the Supreme Court.

This is even more stark when it comes to campaign finance. (I should make it clear here that I’m not writing this to single out Parene, whose writing I enjoy a great deal and isn’t a specialist on the courts, but to make a broader point about the misunderstood significance of Citizens United.) Not only was the First Amendment being used to forbid restrictions on campaign spending fathomable before Scalia took his seat on the Supreme Court, the Supreme Court had held exactly that a decade before Scalia was confirmed. While it has come to symbolize the Supreme Court’s jurisprudence on campaign spending and donations, honestly if I was compiling a list of the worst Supreme Court decisions of the last 20 years it probably wouldn’t even make my top 10. It really just made an already really bad situation marginally worse, and I actually think that the judgement (as opposed to the reasoning) of the Court was correct.

When it comes to Scalia’s influence, I still think Tushnet had him clocked: “Basically, anyone whom Ronald Reagan selected for the Supreme Court who had strong ties to the Federalist Society would have done what Scalia did.” His idiosyncratic disdain for legislative history and balancing tests might have some influence — although it’s hard to say how many outcomes have been materially affected — and perhaps not every generic Federalist Society nominee would have had Scalia’s sporadic libertarian streak. But in general Scalia reflected trends in the Republican Party far more than he caused them. (Incidentally, I think this tendency to reverse cause and effect when evaluating the Supreme Court is common. Roger Taney didn’t write Dred Scott because he was some uniquely evil figure. He was a generic Jacksoninan Democrat reflecting orthodox Jacksonian views shared by Jacksonians in the White House and congressional leadership. The morally repellent result of that case was ideologically and politically overdetermined in that context.)

For similar reasons I don’t really buy this argument that Corey Robin made in The Reactionary Mind, which he linked to again in the wake of Scalia’s death:

Several other factors explain Scalia’s dominance of the Court. For starters, Scalia has the advantage of a straightforward philosophy and nifty method. While he and his army march through the archives, rifling through documents on the right to bear arms, the commerce clause, and much else, the legal left remains “confused and uncertain,” in the words of Yale law professors Robert Post and Reva Siegel, “unable to advance any robust theory of constitutional interpretation” of its own. In an age when the left lacks certainty and will, Scalia’s self-confidence can be a potent and intoxicating force.

[…]

The fact may be small and personal, but the irony is large and political. For Scalia preys on and profits from the very culture of liberalism he claims to abhor: the toleration of opposing views, the generous allowances for other people’s failings, the “benevolent compassion” he derides in his golf course dissent. Should his colleagues ever force him to abide by the same rules of liberal civility, or treat him as he treats them, who knows what might happen? Indeed, as two close observers of the Court have noted—in an article aptly titled “Don’t Poke Scalia!”—whenever advocates before the bench subject him to the gentlest of gibes, he is quickly rattled and thrown off his game. Prone to tantrums, coddled by a different set of rules: now that’s an affirmative action baby.

In response to the bolded question, I would just say “nothing.” Whatever the merits of this Stanley Fish-like “liberals refuse to stand up for themselves” argument in other contexts, in the context of the Supreme Court liberals stood up to Scalia perfectly well, and approaching his histrionics with  give-’em-enough-rope dispassion seems entirely appropriate. I honestly have no idea how Scalia’s talk-radio tone is really materially relevant to anything. As I said at the time, my fundamental disagreement is that I think Scalia’s “dominance” of the Court has been vastly overrated. When has he ever persuaded anyone who didn’t already agree with him? I don’t know whether Scalia’s insulting language caused it, but O’Connor moved further from Scalia, not closer, over time. From Casey to King, his Republican colleagues have never let the possibility of one of his BLISTERING dissents stop them from doing something they wanted to do. I would also say that, as a matter of rhetorical strategy, to the very limited extent that it matters the calm, rational tone represented by Roberts’s opinion for the Court in King or Ginsburg’s dissent in Shelby County is more effective than Scalia’s increasingly pathetic ranting.

I’d say something similar about the alleged influence of Scalia’s originalism. First of all, grand theory does pretty much no work in deciding cases. And second, I don’t really see that Scalia has made it all that much more important. George W. Bush’s two appointees have been notably uninterested in grand theory (and, for the reasons stated above, Alito is a scarier operative than Scalia ever was.) It’s true that both sides in Heller made arguments that largely rested on history, but this is nothing new. Supreme Court opinions have been citing historical factoids when they can help and ignoring them when they don’t for time out of mind. The fact that Heller broke down on a party-line vote anyway demonstrates that which grand theory (if any) Supreme Court opinions use to justify their conclusions just isn’t very important. And to the limited extent that it matters, Thomas, not Scalia, is the justice who cares most about originalism and has done the most to advance it.

The routine William Brennan used to demonstrate how power functions at the Supreme Court to his clerks — holding up five fingers — is still useful. Scalia influenced the direction of the Court because he was a generally reliable vote for his faction, and he didn’t really drive the Court otherwise.

Scalia Links

[ 63 ] February 15, 2016 |

scaliatuxAbove: the author and close personal friend

Missed my assessment of Scalia’s legacy because you only read blogs at work? It’s still online and repays repeated skimming. Some other takes:

Another Supply-Side Miracle

[ 38 ] February 14, 2016 |

120727_SCI_BobbyJindalEX.jpg.CROP.rectangle3-large

Move over, Kansas: you have some spicy company!

Louisiana is facing a $1.6 billion budget shortfall. The funding gap is so large that state officials have warned they won’t be able to conduct their usual Advanced Placement tests and other types of assessments in schools next year. Some public colleges and universities might have to close and, until recently, the secretary of state’s office was saying it wouldn’t have enough money to run the presidential primary next spring.

Whatever could have caused this?

Named for former Lake Charles lawmaker Vic Stelly, the plan put income taxes on mostly moderate-to-wealthy people and did away with a sales tax on food and utilities that disproportionately affected poor people. It was passed and supported by Republican Gov. Mike Foster, but it became a target for conservative talk radio by 2007, when lawmakers and Blanco passed the first portion of the repeal.

Jindal never really sought the second half of the Stelly Plan repeal in 2008, but he didn’t have much choice — from a political standpoint — once it passed out of a committee and made it onto the Senate floor. The Louisiana Legislature unanimously approved both parts of the repeal, with only a few members absent for the vote each time.

With large budget surpluses, this appeared to be the right thing to do. Was it?

Critics point out that since the Stelly repeal, Louisiana has dealt with ongoing budget crises. If the plan were still in place, the state would have as much as $800 million more in revenue right now, according to Albrecht.

But surely the governor had some good ideas for how to deal with this?

The key: Jindal committed to not raising taxes. So as state revenue began to crater, he looked to other means to fill in the gaps. Along with cutting the budget, the governor and the Legislature relied on ephemeral pools of money — state property sales, lawsuit settlements and the like — to help cover costs for expenses that would continue over several years.

The tactic contributed to the budget crisis, according to economists. Many of these sources of revenue have now dried up, but the expenses they were covering remain.

“We probably should have been a little bit more careful about how we used the money for recurring purposes,” Richardson said.

Taking just one example, the Medicaid Trust Fund for the Elderly — once flush with $800 million in cash — has been almost entirely depleted to stitch up Louisiana’s health care budget. When the fund was created, lawmakers thought the state would mostly use the interest off the $800 million and leave that main pot of money untouched. That way, it would be a revenue source for years to come.

There is no mechanism in place to replace this funding, even though the expenses it covered — nursing home payments for Medicaid patients — will still have to be met once it is gone.

As another example, the governor has proposed selling off state vehicles — a limited source of cash — to bring in more revenue this year. The Jindal administration expects this move to generate as much as $1.4 million.

At this time, it should be noted that every candidate in the Republican primaries wants to do to the United States what Republicans have done to Kansas and Lousiana.

Some Free Campaign Advice For Hillary Clinton

[ 33 ] February 14, 2016 |

You probably should tell your husband to spend the time between New Hampshire and South Carolina on a tropical island with no means of contacting the media:

Bill Clinton seems to think that he is, inexplicably, a “stand-in for the first black president,” as he so carefully explained this week.

“Unless your ancestors, every one of you, are 100 percent, 100 percent from sub-Saharan Africa, we are all mixed-race people,” said the former president at a campaign event in Memphis on Friday, downplaying President Barack Obama’s accomplishments.

What is he even trying to accomplish here?

…as a couple commenters point out, what appear to be criticisms of Obama do not sound nearly as bad in context. My bad — I missed the note at the end citing the New York Post as the source material.

What Scalia Meant

[ 154 ] February 14, 2016 |

scalia

And what he could have meant had Reagan nominated Bork first and Scalia second and therefore probably gotten them both:

…had Scalia’s dissents ultimately shaped America, women would not have reproductive rights, the federal government could not effectively regulate health care, LGBT people would not have the right engage in sexual intercourse without fear of arrest – let alone alone the right to marry – and states could single them out for legal disabilities. Women could be excluded from state educational institutions, public schools could teach creationism in science classes and prisoners could be assaulted by prison guards. And, in large part because of Scalia, in America today, the Voting Rights Act has been gutted, the rights of employees and consumers have been curtailed, Brown v Board is more likely to be used to stop integration than to promote it and moneyed interests increasingly dominate elections.

But, to be Scrupulously Fair, at least he wasn’t Sam Alito:

And it’s true that Scalia was not a strict Republican party-liner: there were some cases in which he was willing to make common cause with liberal justices out of principle. In one dissent, he (correctly) characterized the mandatory drug testing of Border Patrol officers as “a kind of immolation of privacy and human dignity in symbolic opposition to drug use”. He wrote a brilliant dissent, joined by Justice John Paul Stevens, upholding the habeas corpus rights of American citizens accused of terrorist activities. And in some 4th and 6th Amendment cases, he regularly voted in a civil libertarian direction.

I’ll have more on the politics of replacing Scalia later.

Bloombergism is the Opposite of a Political Sweet Spot

[ 121 ] February 12, 2016 |

michael_bloomberg_face

As I observed yesterday, one reason AmericansElectUnityNoLabels efforts are always trainwrecks is that the funders behind them are devoted to giving voters as little of what they want as possible.  “(Erskine Bowles, tanned, rested, and zzzzzzzzzz!) As David Dayen observes, a Bloomberg candidacy would be very much within this tradition:

I colorfully described that event eight years ago as “Wankstock” (three days of peace, love, and bipartisanship). It was perhaps the greatest example of the self-deluded fiction that the country is yearning for a centrist savior to bring everyone together through the power of persuasion and good old-fashioned common sense. In reality, this is a cover story for people with lots of money wanting to install one of their own in the White House to get rid of the pesky “public interest” side of political debates now and for good.

The hilarious conclusion to Wankstock came when the participants, at least on the Democratic side, ran away from the idea of supporting an independent Bloomberg candidacy. “I am a Democrat, and I will endorse a Democratic president,” said former Senator Gary Hart. Even the target audience for centrist technocracy wouldn’t commit to it.

[…]

An anti-teachers’-union, anti-gun, pro-nanny state, pro-Wall Street, pro-stop-and- frisk, pro-inequality, pro-immigration, pro-surveillance, pro-Iraq War neoconservative is almost surgically designed to repel practically every American voter on some level. Horse-race polls mean little at this point, but every one of them puts Bloomberg far back of the pack. That’s mainly because he’s virtually unknown to anyone who doesn’t write for or read a major media publication in the New York/D.C. area.

I just wonder whether he’d be joined on the ticket by Joe Lieberman, Matt Miller, or Ron Fournier.

How the Supreme Court Is Most Likely to Kill the Clean Power Plan

[ 41 ] February 12, 2016 |

ChevronSign

Ian Millhiser has a good deep dive into the case that could be used to stop the Clean Power Plan. As we discussed in comments earlier in the week, I think this is the most likely route should Roberts decide to carry water for the climate change deniers that dominate his party:

Ironically, the biggest sign that the Court is poised to shift power away from the executive and toward the judiciary, however, is a case that was widely viewed as a triumphant victory for the Obama administration. The Supreme Court rejected an effort to destroy much of the Affordable Care Act in King v. Burwell. King, however, also indicated that Chevron may not apply at all to matters of “deep ‘economic and political significance.’” Thus, it’s far from clear that the Court will defer to the EPA when it launches a major effort to combat what may be the greatest looming crisis facing humanity.

The attack on the Clean Power Plan, in other words, could do far more than simply undermine this one set of regulations if it prevails in the Supreme Court. It could potentially place strict limits on federal agencies. In an era when gerrymandering and other redistricting factors make it exceedingly difficult for Democrats to capture a majority in the House of Representatives, such limits on agency action could render Democratic presidents virtually powerless. They would have little chance of gaining the congressional majority they need to govern, even if a majority of the nation supports their agenda, and would be hobbled by new limits on their power to enforce existing laws.

With all due respect to eventhehighly-compensatecoalcompanylawyer Larry Tribe, the constitutional arguments being made against the CPP are so embarrassingly stupid even the Roberts Court probably won’t go there. A statutory ruling that also ties the hands of federal agencies going forward, though, is exactly the kind of fake minimalism Roberts loves. As long as Republicans control the House, alas, the practical effect of a statutory and constitutional holding is identical. (I can’t wait for Scalia’s “but if the effects of this would be bad, surely Congress would act” routine at oral argument.)

Maybe Stop Trying To Give Your Constituents Mostly Stuff They Don’t Want?

[ 207 ] February 11, 2016 |

It’s easy to make fun of the primary voters that put Donald Trump in the driver’s seat for the Republican nomination:

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The idea of Donald Trump as president does indeed seem like the premise of a too on-the-nose Hollywood satire. But it should also be emphasized that he’s closer to the views of the typical Republican voter than an orthodox conservative like Rubio:

One of the important underlying facts of American politics is that rich people tend to have more socially liberal and economically conservative beliefs than the country as a whole. The elite criticism of the structure of party politics usually boils down to demanding that the parties reflect elite beliefs even more closely than they already do. Hence the endless demands for a socially liberal third party that will reduce spending on retirement programs, or the fantasy that America is entering a “libertarian moment.” The truth is just the opposite: The underserved political market is voters who want less libertarianism. They oppose free trade, want to keep every penny of promised Social Security and Medicare, distrust big business, think immigrants hurt the country, and generally distrust the rest of the world.

Trump’s campaign initially emphasized his nativist position on immigration, which caused him to be identified with the Republican right. But Trump has repositioned himself increasingly as the candidate of the populist, disaffected center. Even though Trump has proposed a huge tax cut for the rich, he draws support from Republican voters who are most heavily in favor of raising taxes on the rich. (They have no other candidates to choose from within their party.)

Trump’s populism has slowly intensified. “I don’t get along that well with the rich. I don’t even like the rich people very much,” he recently said. “It’s like a weird deal.” He has proposed to let the federal government negotiate lower prices for Medicare prescription drugs, a plan horrifying to conservatives (and drug companies). Like other Republicans, he proposes to eliminate Obamacare and replace it with something undefined but wonderful. The reason Trump’s vague repeal-and-replace stance makes them so nervous is that he once advocated single-payer insurance, and he has emphasized, in a way other Republicans have not, the horrors of leaving people who are too poor or sick to afford insurance on their own. Trump’s shorthand description of the travails of the uninsured before Obamacare — people “dying on the street” — alarms conventional conservatives precisely because it captures the broad reality of the suffering that justified Obamacare in the first place, and which would intensify if the law is repealed. The Republican fear is that Trump’s vague promise to replace Obamacare with something terrific is not just a hand-waving tactic to justify repealing Obamacare. Their fear is that he actually means it. Trump’s populist positions may place him farther away from the Republican Party’s intellectual and financial vanguard, but they draw him closer to its voters.

People who put a lot of stock in BULLY PULPITING the OVERTON WINDOW have this narrative that even though reactionary Republicans have largely failed in their attempts at dismantling the New Deal, they’ve succeeded in moving public opinion to the right in ways that figure to have a long-term payoff. But the thing is that this isn’t true. 35 years after the election of Ronald Reagan, the agenda represented by the Paul Ryan budget remains massively unpopular among the public as a whole and unpopular even among Republicans. Republicans have remained competitive at the federal level in spite of, not because of, the positions taken by a typical Republican elected official. Republicans remained a viable national coalition after George W. Bush because the wars the base strongly supported and the Medicare expansion they wanted and the upper-class tax cuts they can live with were financed entirely by debt. Had Congress actually tried to finance stupid wars and upper-class tax cuts through massive cuts to popular federal programs, it would be a very different story.

What Trump is doing, in other words, is very politically shrewd. The mechanisms that Republican donors and reactionary ideologues can use to keep members of Congress and most presidential candidates in line — the money spigot, the threat of congressional primary electorates much more conservative than the typical Republican voter — don’t apply to Trump. Cruz and Rubio attacking Trump as a fake conservative is going to run into the problem that the typical self-described conservative voter has views more like Trump’s than Cruz’s or Rubio’s. Trump is in many respects a clown, but he’s also much more plausible insurgency candidacy than the typical dream of centrist pundits, someone who represents a small constituency that is already massively overrepresented. In many respects, Trump’s supporters are acting in a perfectly rational manner, which is why stopping him won’t be easy for Republican elites.

The Most Terrifying Editor’s Note In History

[ 70 ] February 11, 2016 |

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Next up: the thrilling return of David Horowitz!

Camille Paglia’s incisive [sic] and iconoclastic [sic] writing on politics and pop culture has been part of Salon’s fabric from the beginning. Her always-provocative column appeared here regularly between 1995 and 2001, then once more from 2007 through 2009. We’re thrilled to announce that she will join us here again, on a biweekly basis, to discuss the presidential race, the culture world, and everything in between.

Ah, yes, her return in 2007. The reviews were ecstatic:

A cursory glance reveals:

Vicious insults to the English language: 3 (”enthused” is not a word, with good reason; “surfeited” means that there’s “more than enough”, you don’t then have to tell me; “drearily prolix” is the worst two-word phrase I’ve ever heard in my life, and I’ve read Camile Paglia.)

Points at which she demonstrates her ignorance of the difference between being interesting and being on a job interview: 3 (plugging her unreadable piece-of-shit book; then naming both publishers; finally, celebrating her ghastly old Salon column – which was, oh by the way, THE WORST THING EVER – with the air of Napoleon returning to Paris.)

Episodes of egregious self-aggrandizement: 1 (1940-present)

Moments of unintentional comedy: 1 (complaining that the blogosphere is “numbingly predictable and its prose too often slapdash, fragmentary or drearily prolix,” and then yammering on for another 50,000 words about how geocaching is the Promethean spectacle of Dionysian abandon on a field of mythic American post-feminist manhood and how Madonna has succeeded where Spinoza failed, or whatever.)

I can see God has more suffering in store for me, and so I say to Him, with steady chin and steely eyes, “Bring. It. On.” Seriously, I gather that someone somewhere actually reads this shit for reasons not related to masochism, and this person needs to sit down and figure out how their life got so disasterously off track. The ability to appreciate Camile Paglia is – like the ability to enjoy the show ‘24′ on any level at all – a sign of a diseased soul, which can only be cured by the generous application of John Tesh world music videos.

Now there’s someone Salon should be trying to lure out of retirement.

The punchline to her latest column, ostensibly about Sanders/Clinton but really about her as always:

The revolt of pro-sex feminists against the feminist establishment began with lipstick lesbians in San Francisco in the late 1980s and spread nationwide by the 1990s. I came into open conflict with feminist leaders after my first book, Sexual Personae, which had been rejected by seven publishers, was released by Yale University Press in 1990. Steinem, who obviously hadn’t bothered to read it, compared that 700-page tome about literature and art to Hitler’s Mein Kampf and said of me, “Her calling herself a feminist is sort of like a Nazi saying they’re not anti-Semitic.” That’s the way the feminist establishment worked—the automatic big smear.

For nearly 25 years, Hillary Clinton, with her simmering subtext of contemptuous bitterness about men, has been pushed along and protected by a host of powerful women journalists in print and TV, Steinem chums or sympathizers who have a lot to answer for. Charmed by Hillary in their exclusive dinners and private chitchats, they encouraged her presidential ambitions. But after two national campaigns, it should be obvious that Hillary has no natural instinct or facility for understanding and communicating with the public on the scale that the presidency demands. Sexism has nothing to do with it.

The first and last sentences of the final graf are an exhibition of self-refutation worthy of comparison to the true greats like Adler/Cannon.

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