Sunday, December 30, 2007

Curses!

Am I A Karma Karma Karma Karma Karma Chameleon?
By MAUREEN DOWD
Published: December 30, 2007

If I hear your wicked words every day
And you used to be so sweet I heard you say
That my love was an addiction
Where we'll be our love is strong
When you go you're gone forever
Just dream along, just dream along

Karma karma karma karma karma kameleon
You come and go, you come and go
Loving would be easy if your colours were like my dreams
Red, gold and green
Red, gold and green

-Boy George
In her second column in a row, Maureen Dowd goes current-events-free tipping us off that this column could have been written anytime in the last six months. She opens with a New Agey bimbo prancing about her apartment.
Faith, the faith healer, is twirling a crystal over my green couch.
That would be the same couch that she sits on while Stephen Colbert guest writes her column for her.
Faith — yes, that’s her real name — explains that there are two common forms of curses. If you send out something negative, you also hold on to it. It’s like a cosmic fax machine. “So,” she says, “it has a definite negative impact on the soul.”

“I hope that doesn’t include writing critical columns,” I mumble.
I hope that this is not another hint that we are looking at a kinder gentler MoDo in the new year. Faith and Maureen dredge up some older bad karma:
The second kind is when someone curses you.

I think back. There was that time John Sununu, Poppy Bush’s raging-bull chief of staff, blew up at the White House after reading one of my stories about his arrogant behavior.

“I will destroy her,” he growled. “If it takes me the rest of my life, I will destroy her. I don’t know where or when, but I’ll get her.”

Could Sununu’s curse be hanging around my house, like gooey green smoke?
The Sununu Curse goes back to a column from July 16, 1995 called Running For My Life where she first found out that she had crossed George the First’s chubby chief of staff. From that column:
Naturally, I was thrilled. I knew about epic curses, the kind they have in Rigoletto and the Bible and "The Count of Monte Cristo," marked by fearsome magnitude and eternal duration, red plagues and green smoke.

But I never thought I would have one of my own.

I immediately called Mr. Sununu at home in New Hampshire to see if he was still trying to destroy me. But his wife, Nancy, said he was out. Uh, oh.

Mr. Sununu never called me back. It's just as well. I have had a change of heart about making up. Lunch I can always get. But an epic curse -- that's hard to come by.
But back to Faith, and the lack thereof:
Faith Green, a pretty, curvy 31-year-old green-eyed blonde, says she has studied tribal shamanism, rolfing, Pilates, tango, movement and stretching. She calls herself a “kinetic therapist.”
And a Google search reveals that rolfing is not what you do after drinking too many Dirty Cosmotinijitos. Rolfing is some sort of mystical variation on massage therapy and spinal adjustment, just without any of chiropractic medicine’s rigorous scientific underpinnings.
Her crystal pendulum also identified some “discordant energy” in my house from angels who were meant to protect me but who had fallen prey to bad energy themselves, and from disconsolate spirits who may have been in a religious order.

“Was I a nun in a past life?” I ask, conjuring up a glamorous image of myself as Audrey Hepburn in “The Nun’s Story” rather than Rosalind Russell in “The Trouble With Angels.”


No, Faith explains, these bummed-out trapped souls are lurking from the past. She suggests they may just be unhappy with their vows of poverty, chastity, celibacy and obedience. You don’t need a Ouija board to know that.
And I think its safe to say Maureen hasn’t taken any of those vows in her current life.
Faith puts stones under my back and tells me she can feel my heart opening like a flower blooming. I don’t really feel the blockages or the bloomings. But it’s a lot nicer lying on a table and listening to floaty, flute-y New Age music than it is sitting at a table and making a long list of insincere resolutions.
Finally, some hint at the year to come. No insincere resolutions, but definitely more resolute sincerity.

Friday, December 28, 2007

BlogWatch: Holiday Hopes

In keeping with the holiday spirit, in this week’s BlogWatch we are only going to cite people that have good things to say about Maureen Dowd. Our lead-off mashnote comes from Robert Bell who gushes about the latest Billary Bashing column:

She can turn a phrase, can't she?

She has put into words succinctly what I have been thinking.

Smart woman! Smarter than you-know-who!
Now Robert wrote that on BarackObama.com, so his partisanslip is showing. But on the other side of the blogosphere is Pajamas Media blog Classical Values that also liked the column.
Who is responsible for what Maureen Dowd says in her column? I'd like to give credit where credit is due, and I don't just mean the link. While I saw it this morning, I now see that Glenn Reynolds linked it late last night. He liked the "humiliating Hillary and lighting an exploding cigar when things are going well" part, but the whole thing is a hoot.

I have to say, it was gratifying this morning to see some of my own thoughts echoed (if not seconded) by a left wing feminist.
Plenty of conservatives like Maureen even when she isn’t Bobbitting the Clenis. Tom Roeser makes this unusual comparison:
I gush over Maureen Dowd who is about as good as Ann Coulter in her way.
The Dowdster is about the only nominal liberal on his reading list. Roeser loves Bill Kristol and thinks National Review is much better since they got rid of that pompous windbag Bill Buckley, so comparing Maureen to Coulter is a good thing in his eyes.

Dowd’s Christmas column got a lot of links from people that normally don’t delve into politics. Library Crunch loved the maternal wisdom of the piece:
Thanks to Maureen Dowd (and her mother) for this wonderful holiday season reminder:

“Don’t cry over things that can’t cry over you.”
The Errant Æsthete called it
A surprisingly sentimental column from The New York Times‘ mellifluous scourge Maureen Dowd.
I like “mellifluous scourge” and intend to borrow the phrase some day.

And finally, from the New Years predictions of the National Review Online staff comes a left-handed right-wing compliment from Jonah Goldberg:
Maureen Dowd will become readable again because she can write about what she knows, bitchy liberal gossip and backbiting.
And in the holiday spirit we’ll take that as a good thing.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Christmas Horse

A Tale of Trigger
By MAUREEN DOWD
Published: December 26, 2007

As re-reported in Dowd Report earlier, Maureen Dowd was spotted getting a bagful of copies of Caroline Kennedy’s A Family Christmas signed at Politics and Prose in DC. She can now expense her Christmas shopping as research since she made it the centerpiece of her Boxing Day column.

She mines the book for jokes by Groucho Marx, doggerel from Calvin Trillan, letter’s to the Macy’s Santa, and the personal letters of Caroline’s daddy, JFK.

And in a heart-warming story, she tells just how long she can hold a grudge:

When I was little, I got one of those wooden horses that bounced on springs for Christmas. I loved him and rode him every day.

One morning, I came down to the porch and the horse was gone. My mom explained that a poor woman and her son had walked by, and the little boy had stopped and stared longingly at the horse.

My mom’s world was turned upside down when she lost the father she adored at 12, so she had a soft spot for children who hurt. On a police widow’s pension, she was always mailing a few dollars off to St. Jude’s or to children she had read about who were hungry or needed an operation.

When she told me that she had given my horse to another child — a stranger — I was crushed. Whenever we fought for the next 16 years, I reminded her of her perfidy.

On my 21st birthday, I came home to find a bouncing horse with a handwritten sign in its mouth. “Hi. I’m back!” It was signed: “Trigger.”
According to her Mormon Temple tale, she still just a kid when that happened, but she took away an important lesson from her mother’s passive-aggressive behavior:
Her lesson was lovely: that materialism and narcissism can only smother life — and Christmas — if you let them.
She ends the column with another quote from the Kennedy kid book:
In a piece reprinted in the Kennedy anthology, Henry van Dyke writes: “Are you willing ... to own, that probably the only good reason for your existence is not what you are going to get out of life, but what you are going to give to life; to close your book of complaints against the management of the universe and look around you for a place where you can sow a few seeds of happiness ... to make a grave for your ugly thoughts and a garden for your kindly feelings ...? Then you can keep Christmas.”
Does this mean we can look forward to less sarcastic bitterness from the Dowdster in the coming year? Let’s hope not. I like it when she gets on her high horse.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

C'est Moi

Savior or Saboteur?
By MAUREEN DOWD
Published: December 23, 2007

C'est moi! C'est moi!
I'm forced to admit
'Tis I, I humbly reply
That mortal who
These marvels can do
C'est moi, c'est moi, 'tis I
I've never lost
In battle or game
I'm simply the best by far
-Alan Jay Lerner
and Frederick Loewe
Maureen Dowd returns to what she does best, Billary bashing. She claims to be reluctant to draw from this well again.
Just when I thought I was out, the Clintons pull me back into their conjugal psychodrama.



Methinks she protests too much, since he does it with such relish and gusto. Her thesis is that the Clintons symbiotically thrive on crisis.
Is Bill torn between resentment of being second fiddle and gratification that Hillary can be first banana only with his help? Their relationship has always been a co-dependence between his charm and her discipline.
She identifies Hillary’s biggest weakness as the person without whom she would never even be considered a candidate, Slick Willie. Bill of course has a different opinion.
Hillary advisers noted that when Bill was asked by a supporter in South Carolina what his wife’s No. 1 priority would be, he replied: C’est moi! “The first thing she intends to do is to send me ...” he began.
With the “C’est moi!” interjection, Dowd is not implying that Bill thinks he is the Sun King. Instead, she is comparing him to the very arrogant Lancelot from Lerner and Loewe’s Camelot, which provided the central metaphor of a much older Democratic dynasty.



In this case, history is repeating itself not as tragedy, but as “endless soap opera”.

And Billary bashing brings out the best in in Maureen’s alliterative alacrity:
Is Bill a loyal spouse or a subconscious saboteur?

Or is he freelancing because he relishes his role as head of the party his wife is trying to take over?

Certainly Bill wants to repay Hill for those traumatic times when he had to hide behind her skirt.

He suggests to Matt Bai in today’s Times Magazine that she can be F.D.R. to his Teddy Roosevelt, getting through the ideas that fell flat the first time.

Maybe the Boy Who Can’t Help Himself is simply engaging in his usual patterns of humiliating Hillary and lighting an exploding cigar when things are going well.
And in that line, Dowd gives Bill a new moniker. In 1992, he flopped in Iowa only to show promise (but not winning) in New Hampshire. He dubbed himself the Comeback Kid. Now as the Boy That Can’t Help Himself, he is the loose cannon prone to friendly fire. Not only can’t he help himself, he will end up hurting Hillary and sinking her hopes for higher office.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

BlogWatch: Rush To Agreement

Check for falling mercury in Hades when Rush Limbaugh and Maureen Dowd agree on something and that something is defending Hillary Clinton. The reaction to Dowd’s 12/19 column about that Drudge picture got a lot of reaction all over the map. Mark Finkelstein at NewsBusters braced himself for outrage that never came.

Surely Dowd would seek to unload on Rush for having said, in commenting on an unflattering photo of Hillary that turned up on Drudge.

To the contrary, Dowd seconded Rush's read, added some analysis of her own of Hillary's looks . . . and ended with a hit on Hillary rougher than anything Rush had said.
The Hillary Project concurs:
Rush Limbaugh's ruminations on the Drudge photo of Hillary's wrinkles prompt Maureen Dowd to say Limbaugh is right about our living in a looks-obsessed society.
From the distaff side, Jill of Brilliant at Breakfast comes up with a great jab at Dowd’s perpetual relationship navel-gazing:
We know that the way our society treats older women is vexing to Dowd, who continues to behave in interviews with men as if she's the cutest girl at the malt shop and can't understand why they treat her like a columnist for one of the most prestigious newspaper in the country instead of like the cheerleader they want to take up to Lookout Point.

It's sad, then, that Dowd, whose Hillary-loathing probably outdoes even Limbaugh's, can't even put that away long enough to recognize that the furor over "Teh Photo" represents the very ageism that has MoDo, who is a good-looking woman for any age, having difficulty getting a date.
I love the malt shop metaphor. It just nails it.

Ron Coleman at Likelihood Of Success also takes a more critical look:
In a clever piece called “Rush to Judgment,” decently-well-aging Maureen Dowd accuses Rush Limbaugh of jumping in on the Hillary-is-aging-fast bandwagon.

The worst thing Rush Limbaugh can be accused of here is acknowleding (sic) that this picture exists, and that it could have a political effect. For Maureen Dowd, however, actually reading, comprehending and considering a Rush Limbaugh essay is out of the question. He’s all fat and stuff.
It seems Ron is the one obsessed with looks and weight. Maureen didn't call anybody names, for once.

But does Limbaugh think Dowd misunderstood or misrepresented him? Here are his exact words from the December 20, 2007 transcript of his show:
Now, Maureen Dowd and some others have understood, and the gals on The View got it right.
If Rush said it, then that settles it.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Age Lines

Rush to Judgment
By MAUREEN DOWD
Published: December 19, 2007

What does it take to get Maureen Dowd to write a column sympathetic to Hillary Clinton? How about a tag-team drive-by attack by Matt Drudge and Rush Limbaugh insinuating that the 60-year-old Hillary Clinton looks like a 60-year-old woman and that is somehow a Bad Thing.

When men want to put down a powerful woman in a sexist way, they will say she’s a hag or a nag or a witch or angry or hysterical.
Dowd observes that these attacks haven’t stopped Hillary as her campaign team finds way to soften her image, if not her age lines.
But some conservative pundits who disagree with a woman on matters of policy jump straight into an attack on the woman’s looks or personal life.

And so the inevitable came to pass this week when Rush Limbaugh began riffing about an unflattering picture of Hillary in New Hampshire that Matt Drudge put up on his Web site with the caption, “The Toll of a Campaign.”
Rush Limbaugh uses this as the jumping off point for a trademarked bloviating rant on how the office of the Presidency prematurely ages its occupants. At one point he almost wistfully regrets:
Do you think a bloated president could win? We had plenty of fat-guy presidents. Do you think one could get elected today? There's not a prayer!
But the line that draws Maureen’s ire is:
Observing that Hillary is stuck with a looks-obsessed culture and that the presidency ages its occupants, including W., Limbaugh observed that “men aging makes them look more authoritative, accomplished, distinguished. Sadly, it’s not that way for women, and they will tell you.”

And Hillary, he noted, “is not going to want to look like she’s getting older, because it will impact poll numbers, it will impact perceptions.” So, he added, “there will have to be steps taken to avoid the appearance of aging.”

He said that voters lean toward attractive men, too, and that since TV, it’s less likely that a bloated “fat-guy” president would get elected — recalling that some were gauging whether Al Gore would run by checking his weight.
I wonder if Dowd isn’t referring to herself in the third person here. From her May 23, 2007 column, “Pass The Clam Dip” she had these observations of the earth-sized Al Gore:
It’s no wonder Al Gore is a little touchy about his weight, what with everyone trying to read his fat cells like tea leaves to see if he’s going to run.

He was so determined to make his new book look weighty, in the this-treatise-belongs-on-the-shelf-between-Plato-and-Cato sense, rather than the double-chin-isn’t-quite-gone-yet sense, that he did something practically unheard of for a politician: He didn’t plaster his picture on the front.

The Goracle does concede a small author’s picture on the inside back flap, a chiseled profile that screams Profile in Courage and that also screams Really Old Picture.

Diane [Sawyer on “Good Morning America”] was not so easily put off as he turned up his nose at the horse race and the vast wasteland of TV, and bored in for the big question: “Donna Brazile, your former campaign manager, has said, ‘If he drops 25 to 30 pounds, he’s running.’ Lost any weight?”
In her defense, Dowd concludes that it shouldn’t matter what Al weighs if he wants to weigh in on the campaign.
Mr. Traub said that, as he followed the ex-vice president around, the Goracle was “eating like a maniac: I watched him inhale the clam dip at a reception like a man who doesn’t know when his next meal will be coming.”

If Al Gore is really unplugged and uncensored, as Tipper and his fans say, then he is no longer bound by the opinions of gurus, mercenaries and focus groups. He can be himself, and inhale away and still run if he wants.
But back to Hillary, the double standard where men are “distinguished” and women are “well-preserved” makes Dowd fume:
Women are still scrutinized more critically on their looks, which seem to fluctuate more on camera, depending on lighting, bloating and wardrobe.

Mitt Romney, Barack Obama and John Edwards almost always look good, and pretty much the same, in dark suits or casual wear. Fred Thompson always looks crepuscular and droopy. Often Hillary looks great, and sometimes she looks tired, heavier or puffier. Jim Cole, The Associated Press photographer who took the offending shot, said that there were several other pictures that day where she looked “radiant.”
As a case in point, Wonkette, the usually kick-them-when-they’re-down snarkfest, puts together a more flattering picture of Hillary and compares it to recent photos of other candidates in their early sixties and Senator Clinton doesn't fare too badly.

Maureen compliments Hillary and her handlers on the consistency they have brought to the former First Lady’s image.
Since this is the first time we’ve had a woman who was a serious contender for president, it’s been an adjustment to watch her more changeable looks, and to see the lengths she goes to get the right lighting and to make the right wardrobe choices. She has a much more consistent look than she did as first lady, when she made a dizzying — and disconcerting — array of changes in her hair and style.
Dowd concludes by saying that if you are going to attack Clinton, go for her apparent lack of substance, not her appearance.
Hillary doesn’t have to worry about her face. She has to worry about her mask. Back in the ’92 race, Clinton pollsters devised strategies to humanize her and make her seem more warm and maternal. Fifteen years later, her campaign is devising strategies to humanize her and make her seem more warm and maternal.

The public still has no idea of what part of her is stage-managed and focus-grouped, and what part is legit. It’s pretty pathetic, at this stage of her career, that she has to wage a major offensive, by helicopter and Web testimonials, to make herself appear warm-blooded.
And nothing gets Dowd hotter under the color than cheap shots at women of a certain age who manage to remain relevant as they age gracefully.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Campaign Buzz

Reefer Madness in Iowa
By MAUREEN DOWD
Published: December 16, 2007

Maureen Dowd is determined to show off how "hep" she is by dropping as many drug references as she can cram into one column. With a little help from this NYT article from last summer, let's catch up on the lingo the kids are using nowadays and count the number drug "cracks" we can find in her trademarked faux debate:

WASHBURN: Senator Clinton, I’d like you to start us off by explaining why your campaign has been getting down and dirty with someone so clean1 and articulate?
It was marginal candidate Joe Biden that put his foot in his mouth over the "a" word. I doubt he's even aware of the sobriety implication of "clean."
CLINTON: I apologized to Senator Obama. I absolutely did not authorize or condone the remarks made by one of my co-chairs in New Hampshire about my distinguished colleague’s youthful indiscretions. If primary voters don’t care that he did “a little blow2,” then my goodness, why should I? Even if he had packed a straw3 full of the white rabbit4 and had a snow bunny4a blow it in his ear, who would care, for Pete’s sake? I only wish I knew all that colorful chasing-the-dragon5 lingo. Senator Obama certainly has a lot of street cred, even if it isn’t Main Street. We owe it to the good people of Iowa to stick to critical issues like the economy, and how to get a fiscally responsible budget like we had in the ’90s, the ’90s, the ’90s —

WASHBURN: Snap out of it.

CLINTON: Sorry. Anyway, even if Senator Obama were still riding the snow train6, I would not allow any revelations about it to sully this campaign. I’m not sure who that young man in a hoodie was that Barack was talking to outside tonight, before the debate. I’d seen the young man earlier, standing around in the shadows outside. But that’s neither here nor there. Even if I had been able to see whether any money was exchanged, or who was selling to whom, I would not allow anyone in my campaign, even that scamp Mark Penn, to use the word cocaine, cocaine, cocaine7

WASHBURN: Senator!
{snip}
CLINTON: Don’t bogart8 the time, Barack. I’d like a hit. Carolyn, shouldn’t there be some timing device to let my young friend know when he’s going over, something that would go “BONG9!”

OBAMA: I know what you’re doing, Hillary. I wasn’t born yesterday. She wants Americans to think I’m so young and green that I can only run for White House intern. It would be a stain on me to sink as low as her.
"Stain" is not a drug reference, just the obligatory Monica reference. Dowd has to make at least one in every Clinton related column. The Pulitzer committee insists.
CLINTON: I don’t appreciate that crack10. If you’re going to needle11 me, Senator —

OBAMA: In turn, I would like to reply that what this country really needs is change —

CLINTON: Change is mine now, Senator Belushi12. Bill and I stole it weeks ago. Some people believe you get change by hoping for it. Some believe you get change by snorting13 it. I believe you get it by working hard.

WASHBURN: Can you both please describe the key features of what you consider to be the best education system in the world?

CLINTON: Well, I know that some of my supporters have been spreading gossip that Senator Obama loves the madrassa system for pre-K through terrorist training camp. But there is not a gram14 of truth in those accusations. We shouldn’t inject15 intolerance into this race.

WASHBURN: I would like to talk about the Peru free trade deal that was signed on Friday. You both missed the vote.

CLINTON: Oh, Barack should take that one. His views on Peruvian are positively flaky16.
And there really was a US-Peru Free Trade Agreement this week, so that isn't as lame a stretch as it first appears.
OBAMA: You’re the flaky one, Hillary, backing up the president when he wanted to rush17 into Iraq and wage this trillion-dollar war.

CLINTON: It’s no wonder you didn’t want to go into Iraq, Barack. There are no free bases18 there.

WASHBURN: All right, you two. We’re out of time. Have a Merry Christmas and —

CLINTON: And I am sure that Senator Obama is dreaming of his usual White Christmas19. Hitch up the reindeer!

WASHBURN: As I was saying, a Happy New Year.

CLINTON: He gets no kick from Champagne20 ...
Footnotes:
1. Drug-free
2. Cocaine
3. Common paraphernalia item used in snorting cocaine
4. A thinly veiled Jefferson Airplane song about drug use
4a. A white female; this expression is commonly used to describe a white female who mingles amoung black males. Not technically a drug reference, but it completes the reflexive Dowd inversion pun with "white rabbit".
5. The need for an ever-increasing dose of a drug to get the same high.
6. Use cocaine. "Ride a train" has a much different sexual connotation.
7. Benzoylmethyl ecgonine (C17H21NO4)
8. To hog something, esp. a marijuana cigarette
9. A water pipe used for smoking marijuana.
10. A form of cocaine meant for smoking.
11. Paraphernalia used to inject drugs.
12. John Belushi, a famous Chicago comedian, died of a drug overdose.
13. To inhale a drug.
14. Unit of measurement for drugs.
15. To force dugs into the body using a syringe.
16. Peruvian flake is 100% pure powder cocaine.
17. The euphoria caused by drugs.
18. Freebase is a variation of cocaine intended to be smoked.
19. To use cocaine. Also a sexual reference.
20. The Cole Porter song "I Get A Kick Out Of You" has a cocaine reference:
I get no kick from Champagne.
Mere alcohol doesn't thrill me at all,
So tell me why should it be true
That I get a kick out of you?

Some get a kick from cocaine
I'm sure that if I took even one sniff
That would bore me terrificly too
Yet I get a kick out of you
No, Maureen, we get a kick out of YOU!

Friday, December 14, 2007

DowdSpotting: Kennedy Christmas Books

Sexiest Kennedy AliveThe Washington Post's Reliable Source, the very sexy Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts checked in on AARP cover girl Caroline Kennedy who just turned fifty. She was at a local store signing her new book of Christmas stories and poems entitled A Family Christmas. And guess who made an appearance?

New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd showed up with six (spoiler alert, Dowd clan!), not counting one she has at home: "My family loves Christmas more than anything," Dowd said.
Maureen and Caroline in the same room together. MMMM-mmmmm! Now there is a cougar sandwich I would love to be in the middle of.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

All The Kings Horses

The Dream Is Dead
By MAUREEN DOWD
Published: December 12, 2007
Doug Feith: Dumbest Fucking Guy On The Planet

`... There's glory for you!'

`I don't know what you mean by "glory",' Alice said.

Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. `Of course you don't -- till I tell you. I meant "there's a nice knock-down argument for you!"'

`But "glory" doesn't mean "a nice knock-down argument",' Alice objected.

`When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, `it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less.'

`The question is,' said Alice, `whether you can make words mean so many different things.'

`The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, `which is to be master -- that's all.'

- Lewis Carroll, Through The Looking Glass

Today's ire is focused on the man called by General Tommy Franks "the dumbest fucking guy on the planet" (with Maureen replacing the f-word with "[expletive] "). And when Dowd's dander is up we get alliteration.
Doug Feith, the former Rummy gofer who drove the neocon plan to get us into Iraq, and then dawdled without a plan as Iraq crashed into chaos, was the headliner at a reunion meeting of the wooly-headed hawks Monday night at the American Enterprise Institute.

But he wasn’t self-flagellating. He was simply trying to put an egghead gloss on his Humpty Dumpty mishegoss.
Normally eggheads are pointy-headed with no experience with the real world. The neo-con variety comes with pointy chins instead. Like Feith, Humpty Dumpty firmly believed that he was in no danger because the King’s men would immediately come running and put together any mess he made.

Mishegoss means crazy or senseless activity or behavior. It’s a variation of the Yiddish word meshuga and was presumably picked for it’s consonance with egghead, but it also evokes another thread of the column.
Feith’s disdain for diplomacy and his credo that weakness invites aggression were shaped, Ricks reported, by personal history: “Like Wolfowitz, Feith came from a family devastated by the Holocaust. His father lost both parents, three brothers, and four sisters to the Nazis.”
Completing the Fiasco Troika are fellow neo-cons sitting together like another duo from Wonderland, TweedleDee and TweedleDum.
His former boss, Paul Wolfowitz, and the former Pentagon adviser Richard Perle sat supportively in the front row.
And there they sat making excuses for the scrambled mess they left behind.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

BlogWatch: Maureen and Moroni

This Sunday Maureen Dowd stepped out of her usual role of irritating Democratic regulars and decided to take on Republican front-runner Mitt Romney and Mormonism. Mitt of course brought this on himself by giving a speech defending his faith while reaching out to other denominations as well. Dowd, a lace Irish Catholic, exposed her naiveté about Mormonism in a much debated anecdote from her youth, whenever that may have ended, and went to her rolodex for some quotes.

I called Mr. Krakauer — who also wrote the best sellers “Into Thin Air” and “Into the Wild” — to get his opinion of Mitt’s religion speech.
And this is where the blogging community chimed in. Concurring Opinion damns Krakauer with faint praise:
Not that there's anything wrong with Krakauer. Into Thin Air -- Krakauer's bestseller about the fatal Mount Everest climb -- was a great read. And why wouldn't it be? Krakauer has decades of experience as an outdoors writer, he's got an undergraduate degree in environmental studies, and he's written prior, well-received books about survival in the outdoors.

Also, he wrote one book about Mormonism, Under the Banner of Heaven -- and as we now know, Maureen Dowd read that book.
It seems that maybe mountain climbing and religion are mutually exclusive. They go on to suggest many other less inflammatory books that may be better sources on contemporary Mormon thought and culture. Some about Mormons that aren’t murderous child-abusing splinter-sect polygamists. As I am sure most Mormons aren't. No more than most Catholic priests are closeted pedophiles, but that is what makes headlines.

Riehl World goes a little further in questioning Krakauer’s objectivity by quoting the NYTROB:
Yeah, he's the guy I'd called if I wanted an objective opinion, ... or, perhaps not.
He usually devotes himself to mountain climbing and seems to have a taste for the outlandish, extreme, criminal, or outrageous in whatever he approaches.

In collecting evidence, Mr. Krakauer ventures out to a lunatic fringe of polygamous self-appointed prophets, where the Mormons and the Martians are almost interchangeable.

... this book provides more voyeuristic astonishment than curiosity or understanding.
Using Krakauer as an expert on Mormonism is a little akin to getting Richard Dawkins to discuss the anti-Christian themes in The Golden Compass. While nothing she cites about LDS is false (except perhaps being a few decades behind the times on holy underwear styles), it definitely exhibits bias. A bias that On Life and Lybberty thinks is over the line:
New York Times columnist Maureen Down wrote a hateful, offensive, and untruthful article about the Mormon Church yesterday (Sunday, Dec. 9th). In it, she describes Church leaders as "authoritarian", asserts that the Church today does not "grant[] women and blacks equal status", and declares that Joseph Smith was a "lusty, charismatic Prospero." (Prospero, in case you are not aware, is a character in Shakespeare's The Tempest that uses sorcery to control the play's other characters.)
The Prospero explanation is dangerously close to working my side of the street, but based on the portrayal of Joseph Smith in practicing Mormon Orson Scott Card’s novel Saints, it seems understated. Mormon church history is full of characters that easily qualify as colorful, but the Lybberty folks take offense and go on to call for her termination.
Ms. Dowd's column falls far below the standards of professional journalism. She is loose with the facts. Her disdain for Mormons is apparent. You may recall that radio talk-show host Don Imus was forced to publicly apologize and leave his job for calling the women of the Rutgers basketball team "nappy-headed hoes." Ms. Dowd's comments were equally offensive to Mormons. I believe that she, like Don Imus, should apologize and lose her job.
I’m not sure what slur to Mormons you would have to evoke to equal “nappy-headed ho”, but if you want to get Dowd fired for being deliberately provocative, the line forms to the left. And to the right.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Swift Templing MoDo

Glenn (sorry for the typo - Mo) Reynolds of Instapundit takes issue with Maureen Dowd's description of her being "kid" seeing the DC Mormon Temple from the beltway. Her description:

When I was a kid, we used to drive on the Beltway past the big Mormon temple outside Washington. The spires rose up like a white Oz, and some wag had spray-painted the message on a bridge beneath: “Surrender Dorothy!”

It did seem like an alien world, an impression that was enhanced when we took a tour of the temple and saw all the women wearing white outfits and light pink lipstick.
And Reynold's reaction:
But if you're imagining Dowd as a pigtailed six-year-old in the back of the family station wagon, think again. The temple was finished in 1974. Maureen Dowd was born in 1952. So she was a "kid" who was old enough to vote and drink. (According to this source, the graffiti first appeared in 1973, when Dowd would have been 21.)
Gateway Pundit claims that her seeing the inside of the Temple is false.
This is complete and total B.S.

Once a Temple is dedicated, only those with valid Temple Recommends can enter. Even LDS Members cannot enter unless they hold a Temple Recommend from their Bishop. And you would never see a woman in her Temple clothes outside the Temple. And no one says pink lipstick or any other shade. That is just plain ignorant as are all her remarks.

This Dowd woman is a liar in more ways than one.
Let's review the timeline:

Maureen Dowd born: 14 January 1952

And from the official LDS website:

Groundbreaking and Site Dedication: 7 December 1968 by Hugh B. Brown
Public Open House: 17 September–2 November 1974
Dedication: 19–22 November 1974 by Spencer W. Kimball

She would have been sixteen going on seventeen when it began construction and would have risen to its skyline imposing height during her high school and college years. She would have been twenty-two when the public open house occurred. And there was only a six week window when she could have ever toured the temple at all. This was a huge event in the DC area and I know people that took the tour. Allegedly all the carpet was removed and replaced after the hoi polloi were shooed out. So she could not have seen the temple insides after that.

If George Bush can excuse cocaine abuse in his thirties as "youthful indiscretions", Dowd can truthfully claim to have seen the temple as a "kid".

Once again, a little research refutes some mudslinging. Really wingnuts, find something more substantial to gig her on.

Update (10:30 am EST): Kathryn Jean Lopez of the notoriously liberal National Review Online takes my stance and says:
With so much to give Maureen Dowd grief about, this isn't one to harp on.
It seems the LDS Temple is a popular place for college kids to go "parking".

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Holy Underwear

Mitt’s No J.F.K.
By MAUREEN DOWD
Published: December 9, 2007

Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy: I knew Jack Kennedy; Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy.
-Lloyd Bentsen to Dan Quayle
October 5, 1988
Mitt Romney makes Maureen Dowd recall her Irish Catholic youth.
When I was a kid, we used to drive on the Beltway past the big Mormon temple outside Washington. The spires rose up like a white Oz, and some wag had spray-painted the message on a bridge beneath: “Surrender Dorothy!”



Which is what the Wicked Witch wrote in the sky in The Wizard of Oz. This then leads her to flash on some of the nuttier Mormon rituals.
Now in addition to asking candidates about boxers or briefs, we have reporters asking Mitt Romney if he wears The Garment, the sacred one-piece, knee-length underwear with Mormon markings and strict disposal rules.

“I’ll just say those sorts of things I’ll keep private,” he told The Atlantic.
Which shows that Romney has more discretion than Bill Clinton. He also didn’t address what he thought of thongs on interns. But Dowd sees a bigger non-underwear related issue:
The problem with Mitt is not his religion; it is his overeager policy shape-shifting. He did not give a brave speech, but a pandering one. Disguised as a courageous, Kennedyesque statement of principle, the talk was really just an attempt to compete with the evolution-disdaining, religion-baiting Huckabee and get Baptists to concede that Mormons are Christians.
John F. Kennedy, the first Catholic president, gave a speech decrying religious tests for public office.
That is the kind of America in which I believe. And it represents the kind of Presidency in which I believe--a great office that must neither be humbled by making it the instrument of any one religious group nor tarnished by arbitrarily withholding its occupancy from the members of any one religious group. I believe in a President whose religious views are his own private affair, neither imposed by him upon the nation or imposed by the nation upon him as a condition to holding that office.
Compare that soaring rhetoric with the words from Romney earlier this week:
Given our grand tradition of religious tolerance and liberty, some wonder whether there are any questions regarding an aspiring candidate's religion that are appropriate. I believe there are. And I will answer them today.

Almost 50 years ago another candidate from Massachusetts explained that he was an American running for president, not a Catholic running for president. Like him, I am an American running for president. I do not define my candidacy by my religion. A person should not be elected because of his faith nor should he be rejected because of his faith.
He can’t even steal material well. Mitt Romney is no Joe Biden either. But he doesn’t stop there. He insists of going further:
No religion should dictate to the state nor should the state interfere with the free practice of religion. But in recent years, the notion of the separation of church and state has been taken by some well beyond its original meaning. They seek to remove from the public domain any acknowledgment of God. Religion is seen as merely a private affair with no place in public life. It is as if they are intent on establishing a new religion in America - the religion of secularism. They are wrong.

The founders proscribed the establishment of a state religion, but they did not countenance the elimination of religion from the public square. We are a nation 'Under God' and in God, we do indeed trust.
He then rattles on about nativity scenes and abortions. Dowd rightly figures out that Romney is a little unclear on the whole church/state separation thing.
The world is globalizing, nuclear weapons are proliferating, the Middle East is seething, but Republicans are still arguing the Scopes trial.
And despite his appearance, Huckabee is not on the side of the chimps. She concludes:
Mitt was right when he said that “Americans do not respect believers of convenience.” Now if he would only admit he’s describing himself.
Time to start marketing those Romney flip-flops, complete with matching underwear.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Pop Psychology

Seven Days in December?
By MAUREEN DOWD
Published: December 5, 2007

I'll make you two promises: a very good steak, medium rare, and the truth, which is very rare.
-Ava Gardner in Seven Days In May

Back in October, Maureen Dowd evoked the dark comedy Dr. Strangelove to ridicule the relentless push for an attack on Iran. Now, as a National Intelligence Estimate pulls the rug out from under the neocon call for war, Dowd recalls the classic political thriller Seven Days In May. Kirk Douglas foils a coup d'état led by charismatic general Burt Lancaster. Norman Podhoretz is forgetting who the bad guys were in the movie:
Even though Norman Podhoretz is conjuring up a “Seven Days in December” spy thriller scenario in which the intelligence agencies colluded to sabotage the president and prevent him from the noble mission of air strikes on Iran, W. insisted he felt “pretty good about life.”
The N-Podian doublethink is elucidated in his Commentary article where Warhawk Norm makes the argument that since the intelligence community was wrong about Iraq building nukes, it must also be wrong about Iran NOT building nukes. The conspiratorial part of the delusion comes with this quote:
But I entertain an even darker suspicion. It is that the intelligence community, which has for some years now been leaking material calculated to undermine George W. Bush, is doing it again. This time the purpose is to head off the possibility that the President may order air strikes on the Iranian nuclear installations.
This rationalization extends to Dubya’s worldview according to Dowd:
If W. can shape the intelligence to match his faith-based beliefs, as with Iraq, then he will believe the intelligence — no matter how incredible it is.

If he can’t shape it to match his beliefs, as with Iran, then he will disregard the intelligence — no matter how credible it is.
Dowd then explicitly points out the 1984-ish paranoid paradox of W., Cheney and the neocons (which would be a good name for a very out of tune rock band).
The president, who has shut out reality for seven years, justified continuing in his world of ideological illusion by saying that he would not be “blinded” to the realities of the world. You can’t get more Orwellian than that.

“And so,” W. concluded triumphantly, and nonsensically, “kind of Psychology 101 ain’t working.”
Bush The Elder once called Reagonomics “voodoo”, but Dubya is dismissive of another soft science:
W. loves to act as though psychology is voodoo even though his whole misbegotten foreign policy has been conducted from his gut, by checking the body language of his inner circle and looking into the hearts and souls of dictatorial leaders.

If I were looking at the latest fiasco from a Psych 101 point of view, I’d say it was another daddy issue for W.

Poppy Bush, who was once C.I.A. director, loved the agency and liked to sign notes: “Head Spook.” The C.I.A. headquarters bear his name.

W., by contrast, has voiced contempt for the intelligence community. In 2004, he dismissed a pessimistic National Intelligence Estimate that didn’t match his sunny vision of the Iraq occupation, saying that the analysts were “just guessing as to what the conditions might be like.”
Armchair pop psychoanalysis of Dubya is a cottage industry including books and articles describing the various pathologies that he exhibits. Many theories cover the long tumultuous history Bush 43 had with Bush 41. Wikipedia describes an infamous encounter:
The most notorious episode, reported in numerous diverse sources including U.S. News & World Report, November 1, 1999, Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq by Robert Parry, First Son: George W. Bush and the Bush Family Dynasty by Bill Minutaglio, and W: Revenge of the Bush Dynasty by Elizabeth Mitchell, has 26-year-old George W. Bush visiting his parents in Washington, D. C. over the Christmas vacation in 1972 (shortly after the death of his grandfather) and taking his 16-year-old brother Marvin out drinking. On the way home George lost control of the car and ran over a garbage can, but continued home with the can wedged noisily under the car. When his father, George H. W. Bush, called him on the carpet for not only his own behavior but for exposing his younger brother to risk, George W., still under the influence, appears to have retorted angrily, "I hear you're looking for me. You wanna go mano-a-mano right here?"

Dowd takes this encounter and others like it and makes it a metaphor for the entire Bush legacy.
When W.’s history is written, he will be seen as the rebellious teenager crashing the family station wagon into his father’s three most cherished spots — diplomacy, intelligence and the Gulf.
While many rumor that Dowd has a soft spot for Pappy, she clearly understands which Bush was the wise patriach and which prodigal son squandered a legacy.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

The Golden Child

O Brother, Where Art Thou?
By MAUREEN DOWD
Published: December 2, 2007

"I'll press your flesh, you dimwitted sumbitch! You don't tell your pappy how to court the electorate. We ain't one-at-a-timin' here. We're MASS communicating"
-Coen Brothers film O Brother Where Art Thou?
As reported second-hand here, Marueen went uptown to the Apollo to check out rising soul star Barack Obama. Being in that hallowed hall of music put here in a musical mood.
His advisers and fund-raisers have pressed him to go fortissimo. Many voters with great expectations are hovering, hoping for a crescendo.
She even invokes erstwhile singer Eddie Murphy.
Despite his uneven efforts and distaste for the claws of competition, they can see he is a golden child, one who moves, speaks, smiles and thinks with amazing grace.
The rest of the article is a litany of folk that have jumped aboard the Barackesh Express. She leads off with token non-heterosexual Andrew Sullivan, but let's see if we can spot a pattern:

In Time, Shelby Steele agrees that a President Obama could show “that race is but a negligible human difference.”

But he notes that Obama’s abandonment by his African father at the age of 2 marked him. “Much of the excitement that surrounds him comes from the perception that he is only lightly tethered to race,” Steele writes. “Yet the very arc of his life — from Hawaii to the South Side of Chicago — has been shaped by an often conscious resolve to ‘belong’ irrefutably to the black identity.”


Jesse Jackson has chastised Obama for not focusing enough on black voters or fussing more about the Jena Six. But Obama wrote that he grew up knowing how to disarm whites worried about angry black men.







But Obama did get to sup at Sylvia’s soul-food restaurant — the place where Bill O’Reilly was shocked to find such genteel black folk — with the still-up-for-grabs Al Sharpton. The only endorsement Sharpton offered afterward was: “A man that likes chicken and corn bread can’t be that bad.”




Obama got an introduction from Chris Rock, who warned the audience that “you’d be real embarrassed if he won and you wasn’t down with it. You’d say, ‘Aw, man, I can’t call him now. I had that white lady. What was I thinking?’”






And he got a benediction from Cornel West, the Princeton professor who took Obama to task earlier this year for not attending a national gathering of black scholars and civil rights leaders.







He said he’s running because of what Martin Luther King Jr. called “the fierce urgency of now.” Now can the prodigy muster that fierce urgency?









Now that we know Obambi is black enough and white enough, we just have to find out if he is man enough to defeat the siren song of Hillzilla.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

DowdSpotting: Showtime For Obama

Jack Turner of Jack and Jill Politics went to the Apollo, not to see amateur night, but to check out a rally for Barack Obama with opening act Cornell West and MC Chris Rock. Jack reports a highly diverse, politically charged crowd:

I saw old black women and young white men. I saw young black professionals and old white couples. And yes, there were Asians and Latinos too. The event held in Harlem, but it played host to all of New York. It was beautiful.

In the audience I ran into friends from Yearly Kos and am pretty sure I spotted Maureen Dowd.
Will we hear about Dowd's trip uptown to see Obambi in Sunday's column? We can only hope.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

BlogWatch: While Condi Fiddles

BraveNew Films (which I don’t know why is reading MoDo) has a rave review of the latest column:

Another absolutely brilliant column by Maureen Dowd in The New York Times written in her uniquely lucid and eloquent style where she lays bare the truth about the new Middle East peace initiative and other things. I hope Condi picks up The New York Times today. Perhaps she will read it to George.
The best metaphor to come out of the Condoleezza Rice Workout for Peace revelation was this one on The Gist:
Nero fiddled -- Condi does cardio. We've commented many times on the show about Rice's workout routine and the elliptical machine that is sometimes brought to her hotel room when she jets about -- and we have a lot of audio of her discussing her weight, her dieting tips and her exercise routine, which seem to take precedent over diplomacy. But I hadn't realized how much she has literally been ellipticizing while the world burns.
And Americablog reacts with to aerobicizer anecdote with this:
Wow.
Pretty much sums it up.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Worked Up Over Working Out

Jump on the Peace Train
By MAUREEN DOWD
Published: November 28, 2007

Now I've been crying lately,
thinking about the world as it is
Why must we go on hating,
why can't we live in bliss

Cause out on the edge of darkness,
there rides a peace train
Oh peace train take this country,
come take me home again
-Cat Stevens aka Yusuf Islam

In a serendipitous bit of luck, New York Times writer, the ever lovely Elizabeth Bumiller has written a bio titled Condoleezza Rice: An American Life which has supplied Dowd with the central metaphor for the Bush Administration’s Middle East peace process.
So it is telling that in Annapolis she is running such a seat-of-the-pants operation, which seems designed to rescue the images of a secretary of state and president who have spent more time working out in the gym than working on the peace process.
In an interview with USA Today, Condi serves up a movie metaphor for the Palestinian problem that Dowd slam dunks.
Nick Burns said — I felt — when he said it, I felt exactly that way, that we would think we had it all pieced together, we would go home, and it's like Groundhog Day; the next day you would come in and it had come apart again.
Condi has compared trying to broker deals in the Middle East to “Groundhog Day.” An Annapolis-inspired breakthrough would be thrilling, but it will be tough for Madame Secretary to turn around her reputation after so many instances of Mideast malpractice.
You see, even though Bill Murray relives the same day over and over again, he eventually learns from his mistakes and triumphs. No such signs of progress are predicted in Annapolis.

When Dowd gets worked up, her alliterative activity goes on overdrive.
The tight-as-a-tick team of W. and Condi have been consistently culturally obtuse on the Middle East, even with a pricey worldwide operation designed to keep them in the loop.

First, Condi missed the scorching significance of the August 2001 presidential daily brief headlined “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.” “An explosive title on a nonexplosive piece,” as she later dismissively described it.

Then she and W. failed to fathom that if Iraq went wrong, Iran would benefit.

She enabled Bush’s bellicosity rather than putting a brake on it.

She let Rummy waltz away with the occupation and only got back some control after he’d made a historic hash of it.
Then Dowd returns to the central metaphor of the article, the exercise routine.
As she described it to Bumiller, she went upstairs at 5 a.m. the morning after the Palestinian elections in 2006 to the gym in her Watergate apartment to exercise on her elliptical machine. She saw the news crawl reporting the Hamas victory.

“I thought, ‘Well, that’s not right,’ ” she said. She kept exercising for awhile but finally got off the elliptical trainer and called the State Department. “I said, ‘What happened in the Palestinian elections?’ and they said, ‘Oh, Hamas won.’ And I thought, ‘Oh, my goodness! Hamas won?’ ”

When she couldn’t reach the State Department official on the ground in the Palestinian territories, she did what any loyal Bushie would do: She got back on the elliptical.

“I thought, might as well finish exercising,” Rice told Bumiller. “It’s going to be a really long day.” It was one of the few times she was prescient on the Middle East.
You see, just like trying to achieve peace in the Middle East, working out on an elliptical machine takes a lot of effort and gets you all sweaty but you always end up back in the same place you started.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Out Of Fashion

What is amazing about Maureen Dowd is that she instills such strong passion even when she doesn’t have a current column. Lapata in Chapati Mystery takes on the entire New York Times stable of columnists, but singles out Maureen Dowd in particular.

I am willing to cede the point that numerous op-ed writers for that newspaper of record often appear to lack even the most basic skills needed in making a logical argument. In the case of Maureen Dowd, of course, logical argument is not, it is hoped, even a goal. In her column, the formula of pegging every political figure and situation to a corresponding character in a widely viewed prime-time hit television show does not require logical argument, but only a fit of insinuating pique.
What brought on his pique? It seems he is rather smitten with the prose of one Guy Trebay, the NYT fashion columnist.
Guy Trebay would never be invited to write an op-ed column in the Times, nor would his byline grace the columns of the first section of any newspaper. Guy Trebay would never call the world flat, or compare prime ministers of foreign nations fictional mafia dons or devote whole columns to baby names.
Lapata, of course, is calling out Flat Earth Friedman, and the baby names column by David Brooks is pretty silly, but of all the poisoned paragraphs by the Dowdster, what does he pick on? A five-month old item titled “A Tale of Two Tonys, Exiting Tormented”. Let’s have a look:
They’re both going out, not with a bang, but with a bing.

As they go dark, the two Tonys are bitter, paranoid and worn down by their enemies and scheming erstwhile allies. They both live in a bleak universe of half-truths, compromises and betrayals, a world changed utterly by the violence they set in motion. They were both brought low by high-stakes mistakes.

Tony Blair fears the feral beast. Tony Soprano is the feral beast.

The two Tonys found that their skin was never thick enough. And they stumbled into trouble with their Juniors, Junior Bush and Junior Soprano. Before he steps down in two weeks, Tony Blair decided to let loose with one of those self-pitying Tony Soprano-style rants that drove Dr. Melfi to terminate him. Call it No. 10 Downer Street.
It may not be Coward, or even Parker, but it’s fresh, clever, and topical (at least at the time). I would have never come up with the Blair in the Bada Bing Club allusion, but Dowd makes it work. As always, she stretches a metaphor a little further than it should go, like here:
I worry more about the press when it’s reverent rather than irreverent, when it’s a tame lapdog, as it was in the buildup to Iraq, than when it’s a feral beast. And I worry about politicians like W. and Blair being black and white rather than gray, as they were in building their hysterical, phony case against Saddam. We would have been well-served back then if Mr. Blair had explained to the jejune Junior that there’s some good, some bad, and some gray in the world, and that sometimes it’s smarter to squeeze tyrants, rather than Shock-and-Awe them.
It may not have the flowery flourishes of a Guy Trebay who can milk four paragraphs out of leering at supermodels at the tail end of a pout about hirsute hipsters, but I would rather spend an afternoon just staring at a Maureen Dowd column than read purple prose about underfed fashionistas.

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Lazio Effect

Some talking points never die. Ann Althouse (who Molly Ivors sees as a Dowd-manque) is resurrecting the kerfuffle over Rick Lazio harassing Hillary in a debate during the Senate campaign. Maureen Dowd briefly alluded to it earlier this month when she said:

If the gender game worked when Rick Lazio muscled into her space, why shouldn’t it work when Obama and Edwards muster some mettle? If she could become a senator by playing the victim after Monica, surely she can become president by playing the victim now.
Althouse claims that Lazio was never anything but a complete gentleman and then unearths a video that she claims proves her point. It actually does the opposite. In the video, Lazio crosses the center of the stage twice and harangues Hillary for over twenty seconds (an eternity in YouTube time) before returning to his podium.

Maureen Dowd who was covering that race closely, predicted that it would be a turning point in the campaign by making the aspiring Senator a sympathetic figure, no small task considering both her baggage and Bill's that she was carrying.

From "Her Brute Strength" on September 17, 2000:
After the Buffalo debate Wednesday night, a woman in the audience came up to Tim Russert, the moderator. She said she had liked Rick Lazio until he stalked Hillary Clinton, pestering her to sign his soft-money pledge.

At that moment, she confided, the Long Island congressman suddenly conjured up the image of her husband, waving a credit card receipt in her face, yelling at her that she had overcharged, his eyes bulging, his veins popping, screaming at her to return everything to the store.

Little Ricky reminds every woman of her husband on a peevish tear about expenses, just like those classic scenes from ''I Love Lucy,'' when Big Ricky's eyes would pop and veins would bulge as he waved a bill at Lucy and ordered her to stop spending the household money on hats.

Hillary got into the New York race because of one badly behaved man. Now she may win it because of another badly behaved man.

One more brute slapping her around and she may be home free.
Three days later in "A Man and a Woman", Dowd further elucidates:
…the Senate race may turn on a wagging finger.

Many of the women who had liked the glowing Long Island congressman recoiled from his glowering performance in Buffalo.

Speaking at a women's lunch on Monday, Mrs. Clinton mocked Mr. Lazio's alpha bits: ''I knew I was going to share a stage. I didn't think I was going to have to share a podium.''

Mr. Lazio Just Doesn't Get It. His race is charged with gender, but his problem at the debate was more a matter of sense and manners.

A man who felt confident of his own masculinity, of course, would never have marched over to bluster at the first lady. It's impossible to imagine Ronald Reagan trying to cow a female opponent with such muscular histrionics.
Upon reviewing the tape, I have to side with Dowd’s assessment of Lazio’s actions. They were meant to intimidate and by behaving calmly and rationally in the face of a ranting bully, Hillary won herself a senatorial stepping stone. If the next president is named Clinton, we may have Little Ricky and his wagging finger to thank or blame as the case may be.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

FlashBack: Mean Girls

Maureen Dowd took Turkey Day off, so let’s look back at a classic column.

Woman of Mass Destruction
By Maureen Dowd
22 October 2005

One of the major reasons used for the invasion of Iraq was the Saddam Hussein's possession of Weapons of Mass Destruction. Much of the evidence of WMDs was reported by Judith Miller who used now-discredited Iraqi expatriate Ahmad Chalabi as a source.

Any good schoolyard battle between two queen bees always starts with sarcastic declarations of devotion:

I've always liked Judy Miller. I have often wondered what Waugh or Thackeray would have made of the Fourth Estate's Becky Sharp.
Becky Sharp is one of the most famous amoral social climbers in literature. It implies a rise strewn with discarded relationships in a quest for power. An implication Dowd makes more explicit in the very next paragraph:
The traits she has that drive many reporters at The Times crazy - her tropism toward powerful men, her frantic intensity and her peculiar mixture of and hard work and hauteur - never bothered me. I enjoy operatic types.
And it wouldn’t be a cat fight without an argument over cafeteria table assignments.
Once when I was covering the first Bush White House, I was in The Times' seat in the crowded White House press room, listening to an administration official's background briefing. Judy had moved on from her tempestuous tenure as a Washington editor to be a reporter based in New York, but she showed up at this national security affairs briefing.

At first she leaned against the wall near where I was sitting, but I noticed that she seemed agitated about something. Midway through the briefing, she came over and whispered to me, "I think I should be sitting in the Times seat."

It was such an outrageous move, I could only laugh. I got up and stood in the back of the room, while Judy claimed what she felt was her rightful power perch.
Which of course includes an alliterative attack, one of several including “hard work and hauteur” above and these:
This cagey confusion is what makes people wonder whether her stint in the Alexandria jail was in part a career rehabilitation project.
But before turning Judy's case into a First Amendment battle, they should have nailed her to a chair and extracted the entire story of her escapade.
Other trademark Dowdisms are the silly nickname:
She more than earned her sobriquet "Miss Run Amok."
And the lowbrow pop-culture reference:
It also doesn't seem credible that Judy wouldn't remember a Marvel comics name like "Valerie Flame."
Perhaps it would be too much credit to think Judith Miller was as familiar with The Fantastic Four as Dowd seems to be. But as always, Maureen saves the heaviest salvo for last:
Judy told The Times that she plans to write a book and intends to return to the newsroom, hoping to cover "the same thing I've always covered - threats to our country." If that were to happen, the institution most in danger would be the newspaper in your hands.
When the paper of record is caught carrying water, even the op/ed page has to turn up its nose at the bias.