What in the world possessed the Obama campaign to let their guy wander like a dazed lamb into a snake pit of religious inquisition like Rick Warren's public forum last month at his Saddleback Church in California? That shambles of a performance -- where a surprisingly unprepared Obama met the inevitable question about abortion with shockingly curt glibness -- began his alarming slide.Well, I'm glad to see an Obama supporter openly criticize him over this. It's been embarrassingly common for Obama supporters to deal with the problem by saying I didn't see it. Maybe you didn't see it, but it's not as though you just forgot to watch TV one night. It's on the internet. You can still see it. And the people who are going to decide the election will see it -- especially the worst parts of Obama's performance.
And those worst parts -- with their "shockingly curt glibness" -- show a worrisome side of Obama. He's relying on an easygoing demeanor and likeability. He's gotten very far in life being not just "likeable enough" but extremely likeable, which, alone, isn't going to be enough.
But let's talk about Camille's animal imagery (on this day where we've already discussed pigs and fish). Do lambs ever have the occasion to wander into snake pits? And what's the deal with snake pits anyway?
So a snake pit is just a big snake orgy, not a trap for you or me or the little lambikins. The snakes in the pit are interested in the other snakes. So a better image would be of an innocent young snake entering the snake pit.
But many of us, surely including Paglia, think of snake pits in terms of that Olivia de Havilland movie "The Snake Pit":
She is sent to an overcrowded state hospital for treatment... she is sorely abused by resentful matrons and profoundly disturbed patients. Throughout the film, she is threatened with being clapped into "the snake pit" -- an open room where the most severe cases are permitted to roam about and jabber incoherently -- if she doesn't realign her thinking.Is that the way we think ought to think of Rick Warren's outfit? I thought Warren's questioning was impressively fair and sane. He certainly jabbering incoherently, and -- I must go off on Paglia's rhetoric -- incoherent jabbering wouldn't be much of an "inquisition."
But snakes seem biblical -- there's that snake in the Garden of Eden -- and the Inquisition is religious, so why not toss them together. If that's the rhetoric -- everything's religious. Then why portray Obama as a lamb?