Saturday, November 10, 2007

Dowd Didn't Defeat Al Gore

Whenever the name Maureen Dowd gets invoked on any political blog, but especially on any with a liberal twist, there is an immediate chorus of lament that Dowd lost the election for Gore. News flash: George Walker Bush defeated Al Gore, not Maureen Dowd. Nobody at Free Republic is crediting her with the assist. I know, I've checked. Let’s review the facts:

Ralph Nader got over 97,000 votes in Florida. If only one percent of these mostly left wing voters had voted for Gore instead of registering their protest, Gore would have won the state. And do you know how much publicity Maureen Dowd gave Nader? None. In the year running up to the election, Dowd did not mention Ralph Nader in her column once. Naderites didn't vote for Gore because of Dowd's nattering that Al was too liberal. Gore failed to carry his base, a problem his opponent didn't have.

Three thousand butterfly ballots were cast for Buchanan in Palm Beach County. The not-so-unusual butterfly ballot (I saw a couple during my three years in PBC back in the nineties. It wasn't all that uncommon.) confused voters. Buchanan got nearly six times the support he should have. Even more amazingly, 5,330 rejected votes were cast for both Buchanan and Gore as opposed to 1,631 for both Bush and Buchanan. Again, if only three hundred of these people had been bright enough to vote correctly, Gore would have been in the White House on 9/11. Indirectly, these myopic Magoo voters are why we invaded Iraq.

Al Gore lost by five electoral votes. He didn’t need Florida to win the election. He needed any other state whatsoever. He didn’t carry his home state of Tennessee, or Arkansas, the home state of the incumbent President, both of which Clinton carried in 1996. Other states that Gore lost that Clinton carried in 1996 include New Hampshire, Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, Missouri, Louisiana, Arizona, and Nevada. Any one of these states would have indisputably swung the election to Gore making Florida moot.

Maureen Dowd was not on Gore’s legal team. The Supreme Court decision upholding the Katherine Harris certified vote tally was 5-4 from a court where most of the Justices had been nominated by Republican presidents. I doubt any of the justices were swayed by Maureen Dowd’s silly columns ridiculing Gore clothing choices.

It wasn’t Dowd’s job to get Gore elected. As an employee of the New York Times, she is not allowed to endorse political candidates. To say that Dowd should have been a team player and been less critical of Gore is to play into the right wing myth of the mainstream liberal media being a de facto arm of the Democratic Party. If your election hinges on the unvarnished support of the New York Times Op-Ed page, you as a candidate are not doing a good enough job of getting the right message to the voters.

Al Gore ran an error-prone misguided campaign. He was an uncharismatic speaker that failed to proactively respond to the attacks of his opponents. Many armchair quarterbacks cite the policy of distancing himself from Clinton and the attendant scandals as weakening support among crucial groups Gore should have carried. If Dowd’s columns pointed that out, it is no more her fault than it is the fault of the little boy in the crowd that the naked emperor let his advisors sell him invisible clothes. Don’t shoot the messenger, listen to the warnings and pay heed. Look at your candidate and realize that his flaws put him into an untenable position where the deck was stacked against him.

Crybaby sports teams blame the officiating. I never have sympathy for these athletes because if they had played a better game, the score wouldn’t have been so close that they need the support of the folk in black and white to make the decisions go their way.

After Al Gore won his consolation prize Oscar, Maureen Dowd wondered in her February 28, 2007 column if seven years of hindsight vindication have caused him to wonder the woulda, coulda, shouldas.

When he’s finished Web surfing, tweaking his PowerPoint and BlackBerrying, what goes through his head? Does he blame himself? Does he blame the voting machines? Ralph Nader? Robert Shrum? Naomi Wolf? How about Bush Inc. and Clinton Inc.?
Anyone on that list bears some of the burden for the Gore defeat. It's comforting to have a scapegoat, but Maureen Dowd is just up in the booth calling the game. It’s up to the players on the field to win.


Linda in SFNM said...

No of course Dowd didn't defeat Al Gore, she wasn't running.

She did help use her position to propagate and smear Al Gore. You can hardly call her name calling "Reporting".

She has to deal with the realities and that her shield from Papa Bush doesn't protecct her.

Sometimes folks think too much of themselves.

Thankfully we have good people like Al Gore who can rise above that pettiness.

Time for

limpidglass said...

I was amazed that someone would actually go to the trouble of making a blog about Maureen Dowd.

Gore won the popular vote in 2000. What happened was an illicit, unprecedented Supreme Court verdict that stopped the Florida recount and handed the victory to Bush.

It is unfortunate that you must resort to unfair attacks on Gore to defend Dowd--a person who I'm not even sure merits defending. It's hard to make a serious case that comments like "He's practically lactating" contribute positively to the public discourse.

By contrast with her obnoxious remarks about Gore, Dowd clearly had a huge crush on Bush in 2000, as pointed out in a recent Vanity Fair article:

'Meanwhile, though Dowd certainly questioned Bush's intellect in some columns, she seemed to be charmed by him one of the "bad boys," "rascals," and a "rapscallion." She shared with the world a charged moment between them. "'You're so much more mature now,' I remarked to the Texas Governor. 'So are you,' he replied saucily." And in another column: "You don't often get to see a Presidential candidate bloom right before your eyes." '

I wonder if she's still holding that torch today.

Your final paragraph betrays how juvenile the media are in this country. While wielding enormous power to shape public opinion, they claim they bear no responsibility for anything they say, while saying the stupidest, most childish things, often for no better reason than that it amuses them to do so. Nor can they be bothered to do even the most basic fact-checking.

The media gave Bush a free pass when he joked that it would be easier if the country were a dictatorship, while piling on Gore. Nonetheless Gore closed a fifteen point gap in the polls and won the popular vote, despite Nader's candidacy which pulled off votes in crucial swing states.

I wouldn't care a bit for what Dowd says, except that there are people like you who take her seriously.

Don Q Blogger said...

Dowd didn't "defeat" Gore. But Dowd was prominent (but NOT alone) in trivializing the campaign by emphasizing "facts" about Gore like allegedly inventing the internet, or being stiff and boring. Meanwhile, Dowd and much of the media gave candidate George W. Bush a pass on his policies except to note he was "compassionate" and a CEO, failing to note his business failures (and the fact he only got his CEO slots because of who Daddy was). And gave him a very kind ride on Bush's drug use up to age 40. Somehow I think if Al Gore had been a frequent user of cocaine, Dowd and company wouldn't have been able to let us forget that for a minute.