Thursday, November 8, 2007

BlogWatch: Hillary and The Harpy

The echoes from Maureen Dowd’s double barrel blast at Hillary Clinton (see this post and this one) are still ringing through the blogosphere. One common refrain is that Dowd is a bitter shrewish childless spinster who has no right to criticize any woman who has stood by her man. The most over-the-top example is from Phoenix Woman at Firedoglake who paints this picture:

The Harpy stared at the bottles lined up in front of her like a glass menagerie. They were cold comfort, to be sure, but they were the only company she had now that she'd driven away everyone else in her life: The men, with her shrewishness and backstabbing; the women, with her Queen-Bee-ism and backstabbing.

She looked at the bottles, and then she looked at her face in the mirror — in her near-complete lack of self-awareness, she blamed her advancing age and not her nasty untrustworthiness for her lonely state.
See, Maureen Dowd attacks Democrats because she is an old lonely hag.

Katha Pollitt writing in The Nation sees no reason for Dowd to be so obsessed over Hillary Clinton.
Is Maureen Dowd obsessed with Hillary Clinton or what? Last week, she complained that Hillary spoke "girlfriend to girlfriend" to women voters while refusing to share the pain of being married to a sexually exploitative monster who had made her violate all her beliefs and principles, as Caitlin Flanagan opined in the Atlantic. This week, Dowd accused Hillary of "playing the woman-as-victim card" because her campaign put out a humorous video portraying the last debate as a masculine pile-on.

As for playing the woman-as-victim card, can this be the same Maureen Dowd who wrote in her last book, Are Men Necessary?, that men don't ask her out because she's too smart and successful and will never see 35 again? How's that for painting yourself as a victim of sexism-- which, I hasten to add, Dowd probably is! You don't need to be Simone de Beauvoir to recognize that lots of middle-aged men would find Dowd too challenging and too old -- i.e., their own age.
Pollitt doesn't quite use the word Harpy, but she doesn't have to. Clearly Dowd's obsession is a dowager's jealousy.

Also in The Nation, Eric Altman in a rambling riff on misleading obituaries and Tom Stoppard plays all of a sudden finds a case study in Dowd of lies that go unchallenged.
Though official lies will always be with us, our political life has recently been poisoned by an even more insidious phenomenon: the "unrebuttable lie."
In Maureen Dowd's bizarre October 31 New York Times column, she lies about Hillary Clinton: "Her husband's sexual behavior, quite apart from the private pain that it has caused her, has also sullied her deepest--and most womanly--ideals and convictions, for the Clintons' political partnership has demanded that she defend actions she knows to be indefensible."
In fact, Dowd's lie is at least partially rebuttable. Senator Clinton has never defended her husband's sexual behavior. Dowd is simply making that up. More interesting are her claims regarding what the senator "knows to be indefensible." How the hell does Maureen Dowd know what Hillary is thinking or how and why she values her marriage? All marriages are mysterious to those outside them, but Dowd--who has never been married and has no children--gives chutzpah a bad name with her unrebuttable lies about Hillary's thoughts and feelings as a wife and mother.
Are Bill’s actions indefensible? They may be forgivable, but they are certainly irrefutable. The smoking gun was found on a blue dress. Joseph Palermo summarizes:
The strongest evidence indicating that President Clinton had been untruthful about the nature of his relationship with Monica Lewinsky came from DNA tests. This aspect of the investigation is summarized here (verbatim) from the Starr Report:

"Physical evidence exclusively establishes that the President and Ms. Lewinsky had a sexual relationship. After reaching an immunity and cooperation agreement with the Office of the Independent Counsel on July 28, 1998, Ms. Lewinsky turned over a navy blue dress that she said she had worn during a sexual encounter with the President on February 28, 1997. According to Ms. Lewinsky, she noticed stains on the garment the next time she took it from her closet. From the location, she surmised that the stains were the President's semen.”
His point leads to this Dowd related dig:
Maureen Dowd even won a Pulitzer Prize for her sassy, prurient commentary in the New York Times on the Clinton-Starr showdown. Dowd's pieces on the subject sound a like a Catholic schoolgirl who just discovered that boys like sex. It was stunning that she won a Pulitzer for offering zero "analysis" of the impeachment except that Clinton had been reckless and Starr was a prude, and they both were equally to blame.
So now she is a naïve ingénue, not a bitter barren harpy. Guys (and gals) if you are going to smear Ms. Dowd, at least get your stories straight.

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