In today’s (9.15) Toronto Globe and Mail, columnist Margaret Wente asks the brilliant Camille Paglia about Sen. Hilary Clinton, and what comes out is so dead-on it’s close to breathtaking. Others have said the same or similar things, but none, I feel, have put them quite so well. The thrust (as contained in the headline) is that “Hilary can’t win, and shouldn’t.” There’s no free access so I’ll just transcribe:

(l.) Camille Paglia; (r.) Barack Obama, Hilary Clinton

“Hilary is having trouble with educated women of her generation. We seem to be the hardest sell for her right now because we’ve observed her, admired her, embraced her — and then become disillusioned. There’s a sense that she doesn’t possess core values. One feels that she’s uncentered in some odd way. And the chaos of her domestic life is not reassuring.

“On the campaign trail, she doesn’t make an emotional connection with her audience because she’s always parsing language. She’s a rhetorician. You get these parsings of the Iraq War — ‘Well, if I knew then what I know now, I wouldn’t have voted that way.’ What does she mean? That she wouldn’t have voted that way if she knew it would cost her politically?

“[She’s] an over-clever, over-conceptualized political person who has trouble being an ordinary person.

“For someone with so much international exposure, she’s not great on the stage. She’s well prepared with her sound bites, but when she has to play outside of her sphere of preparation, she seems taken by surprise. When someone asked her, ‘Do you think homosexuality is immoral?’ she just shunted it off. She said, ‘I’ll leave that for others to decide.’ She’s essentially a policy wonk. She has no vision.

“She was able to succeed as a carpetbagger in New York because she’s the very image of the corporate-legal meritocracy in Manhattan. I cannot stand the elitism and snobbery of this lawyer-heavy super-class. Hilary and her friends are symptomatic of that class. She can glide through those corridors very well, but one feels she has no real pleasures. There’s something about Hilary that’s anhedonic** — the inability to take pleasure in the moment.

“Everything in her is this beady-eyed scheming for the future, combined with this mass of resentments for the past, [towards] the people who have done she and her husband wrong.

“She has a powerful machine. But many, many other candidates will be draining off support. The Democrats around me all have their fingers crossed that [Barack] Obama can develop complexity and stature on the road. This is our hope right now. We want to turn the page. We don’t want to go backward into the Clinton years, which is what will happen if she’s nominated.”