Wednesday, October 31, 2007

French Letters

Hillary la Française, Cherchez la Femme?
By MAUREEN DOWD
Published: October 31, 2007

“Cherchez la Femme” is a French phrase roughly meaning that behind any odd behavior or other problem, you can usually find a woman involved if you look hard enough. The Phrase Finder website explains its origin:

The expression was coined by Alexandre Dumas (père) in Le Monte-Cristo, 1857:

"Vous connaissez sa maxime, lorsqu'il veut découvrir un secret quelconque: cherchez la femme; dans ce cas la femme n'a pas été difficile à trouver."
(You know his maxim, when he wants to discover an unspecified secrecy: seek the woman; in this case the woman was not difficult to find.)

The phrase was adopted into English use and crossed the Atlantic by 1909. It was well enough known there by that date for O. Henry (William Sydney Porter) to use it as the title of a story - Cherchez La Femme, which includes this line:

"Ah! yes, I know most time when those men lose money you say 'Cherchez la femme' - there is somewhere the woman."
Maureen Dowd compares Hillary Clinton with the ex-wife of the current French president Nicolas Sarkozy. Cécilia Sarkozy got divorced over the philandering ways of her husband. Hillary got elected Senator.
Cécilia Sarkozy acts so American, while Hillary Clinton acts so French.
Cécilia at one point left her marriage to go to New York and seek love American-style, while Hillary lost the public love in the ’90s when she tried French-style health care reform.
Love American Style was a television comedy anthology show that featured the trials and tribulations of romance in the sexually liberated 1970s. While estranged from her husband, Cécilia and her then-lover briefly lived in New York. According the French Embassy website, the French health care system is a single-payer universal coverage system financed by a combination of payroll deductions and sin taxes. It is very similar to the system Hillary Clinton’s health care commission proposed during the first term of her husband’s presidency.

Dowd then plays up Hillary’s campaign strategy of appealing to women by trying to soften her harsh image.
She returns to Wellesley tomorrow to launch Hillblazers, a bid to attract young Hillarys to the campaign. She will be back in the setting of her 1969 feminist triumph as the commencement speaker who described her class’s desire for a “more immediate, ecstatic and penetrating mode of living” and who spoke truth to power, chastising Edward Brooke for being out of touch.
The Edward Brooke incident was a watershed event in Hillary Clinton’s life as it gave her her very first national exposure. The details have been described in many places, but most recently in the October 21st edition of the International Herald Tribune, which is the European edition of the New York Times. Good to see Dowd keeps up with the house organs.
On May 31, 1969, [Clinton] gave the student commencement speech. She was preceded at the dais by Massachusetts Sen. Edward Brooke, who spoke that day against "coercive protest." Rodham later wrote she waited in vain for any mention of the pain and soul-searching of the time — Vietnam, the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy, his brother Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, and civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr.

At the podium, she peered out through thick glasses and said: "Every protest, every dissent, is unabashedly an attempt to forge an identity in this particular age."

The speech was a sensation. She was featured in Life magazine.
Dowd says that Hillary’s strategy of appealing to every possible microgroup is at odds with her former tough talking ways.
Hillary doesn’t speak truth to power any more. Now that Mark Penn believes women can carry her to victory, Hillary speaks girlfriend to girlfriend.
Mark Penn is the author and Clinton strategist that Dowd wrote about recently. To round out the First Ladies Club, Dowd quotes Argentinean President-elect Fernández de Kirchner:
“And why not?,” former first lady Cristina Fernández de Kirchner said about Hillary yesterday. “Another woman wouldn’t be bad.”
After an extensive quote from an Atlantic article on Clinton by Caitlin Flanagan, Dowd points out a telling detail:
Ms. Flanagan … was particularly bothered by Hillary’s callousness in dumping Socks, the beloved White House cat and best-selling author, on Bill’s former secretary Betty Currie.
Not only is Hillary wrong for not dumping Bill on the curb, she’s a bad pet owner too. But Dowd sees Senator Clinton’s toughness as her strength:
Few are concerned that Hillary is strong enough for the job. She is cold-eyed about wanting power and raising money and turning everything about her life into a commodity. Yet, the characteristics that are somewhat troubling are the same ones that convincingly show she will do what it takes to beat Obama and Rudy. She will not be soft or vulnerable. She will not melt in a crisis.
And to drive home the point about who the real man in the campaign is, Dowd goes back to the {verb}-up phrase she has become enamored with and emasculated Obama once more just for old time’s sake.
And, unlike Obama, she doesn’t need to talk herself into manning up. Obama whiffed in the debate last night when Brian Williams and Tim Russert teed up the first question for him to take on Hillary — something the debate dominatrix never would have done.
And with the final alliteration, we see who really wears the pants suits in the campaign. Hillary is a strong-willed political opportunist that stayed with her philandering husband just for political gain, and those are her good points.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Dowd Speech Online

Maureen Dowd's speech at Harvard last week is now available on the web. She presents the Theodore H. White Lecture on Press and Politics. The complete archive of that event is available here in streaming Real Player, Windows Media video, mp3, or Quicktime audio. The archive is of the entire event and runs over an hour and includes the presentation of Dana Priest with the third annual David Nyhan prize for political journalism.


A long winded introduction by fellow Pulitzer Prize winner Alex Jones delays Dowd's entrance until over 24 minutes into the event. Maureen looked stunning, of course, in a sleeveless Little Black Dress with her Harvard crimson hair falling in her eyes like a nervous goth girl giving a valedictorian speech. She opens self-deprecatingly in her inimitable whine calling herself a sniper and a kibbitzer, "someone who gives unwanted advice at a card game. Perfect."

She milks her Schlesinger review by repeating some biting comments about Harvard and quotes extensively from him throughout the speech. Other political and pop cultural call-outs include Marie Osmond, Michael Kinsley, Bush I, Stephen Colbert, Iago, Jack Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe, Harriet Miers, Jeff Gannon, Ellen Degeneres and others.

The speech is also peppered with classic bon mots and epithets familiar to her readers and her admirers. Watch and listen.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

OMG! Cheney on MTP

W.M.D. in Iran? Q.E.D.
By MAUREEN DOWD
Published: October 28, 2007

Quod erat demonstrandum: a Latin phrase used at the end of a definitive proof

This week, Maureen Dowd’s dental fillings are picking up a Meet The Press episode that hasn’t happened yet.

RUSSERT: How close are we to war with Iran?
CHENEY: Well, I think we are in the final stages of diplomacy, obviously. We have done virtually everything we can with respect to carrots, if you will. It’s time for squash. Not to mention mushrooms, clouds of them.
RUSSERT: Isn’t Secretary Rice still pushing carrots for Iran?
CHENEY: The more carrots Condi feeds ’em, the better they’ll be able to see the bombs coming.
Dowd must be on a truly strange diet because she has become obsessed with vegetables. She has mentioned using carrots as a motivator with Iraq back during In A Dinner Jacket’s speech and earlier this week as well. The vegetable stew recall Condoleezza Rice’s testimony that the smoking gun in Iraq could be a mushroom cloud.

Another Dowd fascination is with the career backgrounds of Middle-Eastern dictators. She dismissed Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, an engineer with PhD, as a traffic planner.
CHENEY: Syria is not a country, Tim. It’s a way station run by an eye doctor.
Sure enough, according to Wikipedia, Syrian hereditary president Bashar al-Assad has an ophthalmology degree. Dowd’s preoccupation with mocking the previous jobs of politicians is intriguing. If being an engineer or doctor isn’t good enough to run a country, what is? Actor? Rancher? Housewife? Journalist?

We then get a brief lesson in the 20th century handling of dangerous dictators.
CHENEY: Why don’t we just give the Islamofascists Sudetenland, Tim? Peace in our time.
RUSSERT: The Europeans are upset that you might start another war in their backyard.
CHENEY: (Rolling his eyes and muttering under his breath) Eurappeasers.
Both Sudetenland and Eurappeasers evoke the efforts of pre-World War II European leaders to satiate Hitler’s lust for territory. The Sudetenland was a part of Czechoslovakia that Hitler really, really wanted. ImaginaryCheney here has clearly lost the debate by invoking Godwin’s Law.
CHENEY: You really want Rudy Giuliani playing with the nuclear button, Tim? Now, that’s insane.
According to Dowd, Cheney is going to be the insane Slim Pickens riding the bomb down to Tehran. That must make Rudy President Merkin Muffley.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Dowd Live At Harvard

Updated: 10/27/07

Photo credit: Crimson/Alexandra P. Kass

According to the Harvard Crimson, Maureen Dowd gave a speech at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government yesterday extolling the need for an active press to rein in the “alternate realities” pushed by the White House among others. She credits Dubya with providing job security:
“At a time when journalism is considered an endangered species,” Dowd said, “the Bushies at least have proved that our profession is more necessary than ever.”
Dowd’s speech, filled with incisive one-liners, spanned a wide range of topics, from the current war in Iraq to Shakespeare’s “Othello” to the presidential campaign of comedian Stephen Colbert, who wrote for her column earlier this month.
She also invoked Star Wars like she did from Sunday's Madness tirade:
[Cheney] has even begun referring to his nickname, Darth Vader, noting that it “is one of the nicer things I’ve been called recently.”
And at Harvard:
Speaking about Vice President Dick Cheney, she remarked, “Darth Vader is shaking his fist at Iran now. What could be more Shakespearean than that?”
Which proves that my Hamlet explication was spot on and I would love to find out what the Othello call-out was. Her speech further shows how dexterous she is at switching from The Bard to The Force.

Update: As if she heard me, Libby Hughes of Cape Cod Today goes into further details on the Othello reference in Dowd's speech.
Dowd compared the politics of the White House to a Shakespearean drama, full of sex and envy. She cast Dick Cheney in the role of Iago ( without charm) in the play "Othello." She alluded to Cheney as devious and Rummy as Darth Vader. She noted the political dynasties of the Roosevelts, Kennedys, Bushes, and probably--Clintons. She wondered whether it will be Hillaryland or Rudyville in 2009. "If Rudy Guiliani is a Red Sox fan, anything is possible." She briefly compared Barack Obama to Adlai Stevenson for his self-image as "no image." Dowd also had taken a swipe in her column at Obama's big ears and discovered she had hit a vulnerable chink in Obama's armor.
The Barack/Adlai comparison comes from her Schlesinger review. Look for the Othello allusion, the dynasty comparison, and the Red Sox Rudy line in future columns.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

BlogWatch: Colbert Live

Stephen Colbert, political talk show satirist and ersatz presidential candidate, and Frank Rich, Maureen Dowd’s Sunday pagemate, held an event in New York at the 92nd Street Y. AlisaR of DailyKos was there and gave of full report including this little insight into the secret workings of the Vast Liberal Mockery:

Maureen Dowd asked him to write his column before she was aware he was running for president. (‘Is it real or a joke?’ someone asked; "what’s the difference" he replied.) "Why do you want me to write your column" he reportedly asked Ms. Dowd; "Why did Tom Sawyer want that kid to paint his fence" she retorted.
Even off the cuff, Dowd is making brilliant and perceptive allusions to classic American literature. Tom Sawyer used psychology to trick kids into doing his work for him. And judging by the continued internet buzz over the ColbertDowd column, someone is getting plenty of mileage from it. Just who is using who here?

The anecdote is confirmed by Mixed Media blog at Portfolio.com. Jeff Bercovici also reveals that the heavy lifting for that column was really done by two Colbert Report staff writers. There goes my theory that Dowd was doing a brilliant spot-on Colbert meta-parody. So it goes.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Riding The Crazy Plane

Madness as Method
By MAUREEN DOWD
Published: October 24, 2007

Though this be madness, yet there is method in't.
-Hamlet Act 2, scene 2, 193–206

Today, Maureen Dowd levels her shotgun at Dick Cheney but with a wide spread takes on plenty of other familiar targets.

Dick Cheney’s craziness used to influence foreign policy.

Now it is foreign policy.

He may have lost his buddy in belligerence, Rummy. He may have tapped out the military in Iraq. He may not be able to persuade Congress so easily anymore — except for Hillary — to issue warlike resolutions.
According the the UK Telegraph:
[Senator Clinton] was the only Democratic candidate who voted for a resolution last month that called on Mr Bush to list the Iranian Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist group.
Clinton’s position on Iran lets her get pilloried on both the left and the right as Dowd later points out:
Rudy is using his more martial attitude toward Iran as a weapon against Hillary, painting her as a delicate ditherer on the topic.
And delicate ditherer is both our Alliteration of the Afternoon and a new Hillary epithet fitting with the Hamlet reference in the title. But the main thrust of the article is that not only does Cheney, as the biggest of the chickenhawks, want to bomb Iran, he’s crazy enough to do it.
Cheney seems to enjoy giving the impression that he is loony enough to pull off an attack on Iran before leaving office — even if he has to do it alone, like Slim Pickens riding the bomb down in “Dr. Strangelove” to the sentimental tune of “We’ll Meet Again.”
Dr. Strangelove, Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb is a Stanley Kubrick black comedy classic about a rogue Air Force officer that starts a nuclear showdown with the old Soviet Union. It’s full of classic ironic quotes like:
Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room.

Mr. President, we must not allow a mineshaft gap!

Ambassador de Sadesky: Our doomsday scheme cost us just a small fraction of what we had been spending on defense in a single year. The deciding factor was when we learned that your country was working along similar lines, and we were afraid of a doomsday gap.
President Merkin Muffley: This is preposterous. I've never approved of anything like that.
Ambassador de Sadesky: Our source was the New York Times.
See, even in the movies, the Times is undermining national security.

And then we start getting some callbacks like a stand-up comedian.
The neocons who have their heart set on bombing Iran to stop I’m-a-Dinner-Jacket and the mullahs from getting nuclear capability were thrilled and emboldened by the placid reaction to the Israeli air strike on Syria.
That is, of course, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose Couric-inspired nickname you will remember from the fruitbat column. That column also used a carrot and stick metaphor that gets trotted out again.
In his new book, the former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton scornfully accuses Colin Powell, and later Condi Rice, of appeasing Iran, including some carrots to get them to cease their nuclear plans.

Hit with sticks, the bogyman responded with sticks. He said that Iran will not negotiate with anyone about its right to nuclear technology.
And even though Dowd invokes Slim Pickens in the Dr Strangelove reference, the better comparison is to General Jack D. Ripper who says:
[Clemenceau] said war was too important to be left to the generals. When he said that, 50 years ago, he might have been right. But today, war is too important to be left to politicians. They have neither the time, the training, nor the inclination for strategic thought. I can no longer sit back and allow Communist infiltration, Communist indoctrination, Communist subversion and the international Communist conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids.
Substitute “Communist” with “IslamoFascist” and “bodily fluids” with “oil resources” and I think you have Cheney’s next speech, right before the rogue B-52s head for Tehran.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

BlogWatch: Penn A Cougar

Here at MoDo Manor we use the time between Dowd articles to separate the wheat from the chaff in the blogosphere. If we link to another blog its because they had some interesting take on the most recent piercing insight from our favorite y-chromosoned columnist. And in contrast to last week’s Colbert inspired bumper crop, this week we have bupkis. And there was a lot to like about Sunday’s piece. It had Mark Penn’s pop demographics and some heavy Hilary bashing. Normally that would be good for at least a few accusations of liberal friendly fire fragging, but no.

A Google BlogSearch® for “Dowd” and “Colbert” gets 465 hits since the column was printed. “Dowd” and “Penn” yields a paltry 73. And the dirty secret of the blogosphere is that many of those hits are just Google-bait reprints of her column with no value-added snarking.

Not that the week was a total loss. Ezra Klein laughs at the naked emperor that is Mark Penn’s tome:

Wipe out the psychosexual speculation on the "true" nature of Bill and Hillary Clinton's marriage from Maureen Dowd's latest, and what you're left with is a pretty good column on the absurdity of Mark Penn's Microtrends. "The chapters all read like reports that Mr. Penn wrote for clients," writes Dowd. "Whether or not they’re trends, they’re certainly micro — marketing studies gussied up as social science. As with Malcolm Gladwell’s 'The Tipping Point,' this book is less social philosophy than a fancy way to sell stuff."

The book is weird that way. The Microtrends really aren't about anything -- they don't fit into some overarching vision of American life, they don't help us explain our neighbors or better understand our world. Maybe they suggest niche markets for new products, but that's the sort of information that's best sold to companies, not released in hardcover. My eventual best guess was that the book exists not so much to sell "stuff" as to sell Mark Penn.
And a few can’t resist the chance to mock MoDo for being self-absorbed. On Snaking The Drain we get:
What really matters to Dowd is whether the person running for president has a personality that meets her approval. And Senator Clinton does not. And that's all we'll be hearing from this shallow and self-centered crank for the next year. Dowd will stamp in her heels and flail her arms and keep telling us that no one likes Hillary.
And Brian Beutler narrows it down to the ouroborosian circle jerk of media analysis:
If you want to enjoy a big meta clusterfuck, read Maureen Dowd on Mark Penn on Maureen Dowd. Frankly, the quality of the discourse--and indeed of the entire country--would probably improve a tick or two if Dowd and Penn focused more on tangling with each other than they do on their regular jobs.
Finally, A Lot Of Things Thrown Five Minutes Ago (in a post barely longer than the blog name) explicates the Cougar microtrend with a video clip link to How I Met Your Mother that features as a guest star red-headed sex symbol Jane Seymour.
Today's Maureen Dowd column indicates something I'd missed earlier -- Democratic pollster Mark Penn has identified "Cougars" as a critically important group for microtargeting. Does this mean that candidates should consider hiring Barney Stinson for his expertise on the subject?
Maybe we can get Maureen a guest spot on the show the next time Barney goes cougar hunting. Or get Jane Seymour to play Dowd in the film version of Are Men Necessary?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Grrrr!

Cougars, Archers, Snipers
By MAUREEN DOWD
Published: October 21, 2007

Cougars, archers, and snipers are all extremely narrow demographic groups cataloged in Microtrends by Mark Penn, a pollster and Clinton campaign advisor. Dowd denies being any of the three. “Snipers” are teenagers that want to become stealth military marksmen. “Archers” are suburban housewives into exotic niche sports. And nothing breaks my heart more than MoDo abdicating from cougar”-hood. She does confess:

I’m a microtrend.

Hillary’s programmer says so. I’m mentioned in a section of Mark Penn’s new book, “Microtrends,” called “Impressionable Elites.”
She might also fit into Office Romancers, Stained Glass Ceiling Breakers, Sun-Haters, Caffeine Crazies, or Wordy Women.
It could have been worse. At least I wasn’t in the sections on Cougars, French Teetotalers, The Mildly Disordered, Aspiring Snipers or Unisexuals.
The book has about 60 more categories including porn aficionados, inter-racial couples, and moderate terrorists.

Dowd makes the connection between the microtrends and the Clinton campaign:
But Mr. Penn is the one who has conjured a story line designed to make her more likable: the middle-class girl from the middle of the country with Midwest values who wants to govern from the middle. McGovernick? Meshugana!
George McGovern, the failed ultra-liberal presidential candidate, has endorsed Clinton and Rudy Giuliani has tried to paint Hillary as a left-wing McGovernick. That’s meshugana crazy talk! According to Dowd, the battle is for the middle. Hillary is running as a moderate, not as a lefty brick thrower.

That previous paragraph also unleashed a veritable volcano of clever consonance which leads us to the Alliteration Alert:
Why rely on a candidate’s charisma…?
Hillary comes across more as a pile of diligently digested data…
The pollster is so used to dicing data into bite-sized pieces…
...Iraq imbroglio.
took its tempo from his adolescent indulgences…
Within these verbal volleys is an argument that all the political pandering can’t overcome her essential Hillaryness. In the most explicit explanation of the Clinton campaign ever, Dowd says out loud what everybody knows:
Political power was her [Hillary’s] reward for his [Bill Clinton’s] marital infidelity.

When Bill explains why Hillary should be president, his subtext is clear: We owe it to her for all she put up with from me.
And Dowd saves one more syllabic salvo for the fantastic finale:
But if you think that Hillary doesn’t have connubial contingency plans in place, you’re disregarding his DNA — and hers.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Freeper Report

Maureen Dowd’s Rudy Rampage got linked to at Free Republic, the ultra-conservative portal. Part of the problem is that a highly developed sense of ironic sarcasm goes wasted on some parties. The first comment seemed to be ready to get in line behind Rudy when the brown shirts start marching:

“Rudy would probably only take the hand of an Arab leader to throw him down a ravine, or a wadi”

LOL, so true!
But for most Freepers, the mere mention of the Red Headed One induces a Pavlovian reaction:
Ugh...Maureen Dowd.
And
I couldn’t bother to follow the link once I saw the author’s name. Detestable wench.
While some are nostalgic for Times Select:
Oh how I wish for the wonderful days of Times Select, and the near total absence of this blubbering idiot from the online political opinion and newsjunky world.
But even in the heavily Red State air, one had to admit:
Maureen Dowd's not my favorite New York Times columnist but she captured the spirit of the Jewish Republican Coalition debate very well.
And the closest thing to a compliment was:
Nice choice of words for Fred: "phlegmatic", and he's "plummeting in the polls". As usual, Mo's slip is showing again.
It's okay Freepers, you don't have to agree with everything Dowd says. And besides if she was gone, who would you have left to hate, Bob Herbert?

If you want a better feel for where Rudy is getting his geopolitics from, read/watch this very detailed analysis (hat tip to Ed Strong).

Rudy And The Ragheads

Rudy Roughs Up Arabs
By MAUREEN DOWD
Published: October 17, 2007

Rough Rudy doesn’t quite have the same edge as Ringtone Rudy, but the alliteration will do in a pinch.

As the phlegmatic Fred Thompson plummeted in the polls and made a lackluster appearance at the forum, a juiced Mr. Giuliani preened in front of an audience that loved him.
As a epithet, “phlegmatic” will never be as good as “laconic” in describing Thompson, but it does let Dowd make an alliteration triple play going for juiced Giuliani as well as poll plummeting.
He went through his greatest hits: The time he yanked Yasir Arafat out of Lincoln Center during a performance of Beethoven’s Ninth. “The thing that really bothered me was, he didn’t have a ticket,” Rudy recalled. “He was a freeloader!”
The incident in question happened in 1995 during the Clinton Administration. According to the New York Times report, Arafat did have a ticket, but nobody owns up to giving him one. Not sure what makes Rudy the usher at the Lincoln Center. Maybe he likes dressing up in the uniform.
But Rudy seems out of the Republican mainstream on even giving lip-service to Palestinian aspirations. He has no patience for buttering up the Arabs, or the Republican men’s club attitude represented by Saudi-loving Bush senior and James Baker that has always favored a more “even-handed” policy in the Middle East.
The connections of Bush I, Baker and Bandar are legendary in conspiracy theory circles. Michael Moore is one of the more reliable sources that has reported on the close relationship between the Saudi royal family and The Carlyle Group among others.
Rudy would probably only take the hand of an Arab leader to throw him down a ravine, or a wadi.
A wadi is a dry river bed prone to flash flooding. One of Borat's bits is getting unsuspecting rednecks to sing "Throw The Jew Down The Well". Ravine Rudy would rather be throwing the wogs in the wadi.
(Bush senior and Dick Cheney were very tight with Saudi Prince Bandar. At a party at the vice president’s mansion once, I watched Bandar greet waiters like old friends.)
Nice name-drop, Mo. Were you a member of the Energy Policy Council? Something tells me Dowd isn't getting invited to too many Red Room Receptions during the Giuliani Administration.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Colbert Conspiracy

If the purpose of the Stephen Colbert stunt casting in the Sunday New York Times was intended to draw attention to the Times Select-free Maureen Dowd, it worked. The blogosphere was abuzz with the news. The general consensus was that stale Colbert was better than hot Dowd. Let’s take a look at some of the more creative headlines:

Caveat Bettor, per Diem: The best Maureen Dowd column ever
Baseball Crank: Best Maureen Dowd Column Ever Written
Wonkette: Best Maureen Dowd Column Ever Written by Stephen Colbert
SteveSilver.net: Best Maureen Dowd Column Ever

Spot a trend? Plenty of other places simply took the stunt at face value:

DailyKos: NYT: Stephen Colbert Replaces Maureen Dowd
NoFactZone.net (a Colbert fansite): Stephen Colbert, ‘New York Times’ columnist?
The Body Politik: Colbert Takes Over Maureen Dowd Column
Verum Serum: Stephen Colbert Writes for Maureen Dowd (and Frank Rich)
Dara Weinberg: Colbert writes Maureen Dowd’s column

The only place that was the most remotely skeptical was Editor and Publisher with their caveat:

But was this just another bit of fakery, and Dowd actually did an excellent job of mocking the mock views of Colbert? Was it faux keeps or not?
Here at MoDo Manor, we tend to be from Missouri when it comes to the guest voices inside Dowd’s head. What would her motive be to pretend to be a fake commentator when she already has a bully platform of her own? The most quoted line in the piece was the faux Frank Rich part:
Bad things are happening in countries you shouldn’t have to think about. It’s all George Bush’s fault, the vice president is Satan, and God is gay.

There. Now I’ve written Frank Rich’s column too.
Frank Rich, the theater critic turned pundit, briefly bumped her off the premiere Sunday spot for a while until calmer heads prevailed. Could this be her way of exacting a pound of his ample flesh? It's obvious that Rich cribs off Dowd fairly frequently. By putting words in the mouth of a Straw Colbert, she gets to have her revenge and eat it cold.

You would think that Comedy Central would have been in on the act from the start if the real Colbert were involved, but their blogpost was possibly ambiguous:
Yesterday's New York Times readers were in for a surprise when Maureen Dowd 'dared' Stephen Colbert to write her op-ed column. In it, Stephen both squelches and fans rumors that he might run for public office
Note the ‘scare’ quotes around ‘dared’. Plus, that post didn’t appear until 1:34 p.m on Monday, a good 36 hours after the NYT page went live. And let’s face it, if Colbert and his TV overlords were caught flat-footed by Dowd, would they let on?

The sign of a good conspiracy theory is that facts never get in the way of thinking with your gut. I think Colbert would agree.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Colbert Retort

A Mock Columnist, Amok
By MAUREEN DOWD
Published: October 14, 2007

The phrase “running amok (or amuck)” comes the Malay word “Amuco” and has come to mean any sort of violent senseless rampage. Amok Time would be a good name for a Fox News Network talk show.

I was in my office, writing a column on the injustice of relative marginal tax rates for hedge fund managers, when I saw Stephen Colbert on TV.
George Will wrote a column this week on how tough it is to be a billionaire in "today’s plutonomy". Will may have been writing tongue-in-cheek, but as with MoDo, sometimes it can be tough to tell since so much of his opining already verges on self-parody.

Stephen Colbert is a character on Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report played by Stephen Colbert. Stephen Colbert the character is a caricature of an over-the-top right-wing commenter. Stephen Colbert the comedian is a hopeless commie pinko.
I Am an Op-Ed Columnist (And So Can You!)
By STEPHEN COLBERT
Stephen Colbert’s new book is non-sequiturly titled I Am America (And So Can You!). For the second week in a row, Dowd has gotten her inspiration from the New Releases table at BigBoxOfBooks™. Dowd then channels the Stephen Colbert character for the rest of her column:
I’d like to thank Maureen Dowd for permitting/begging me to write her column today. As I type this, she’s watching from an overstuffed divan, petting her prize Abyssinian and sipping a Dirty Cosmotinijito.

James Bond super-villain Ernst Stavro Blofeld always had a fluffy white cat. Sarah Jessica Parker’s vapid self-centered Sex and The City character drank lots of fancy alcoholic drinks while extolling the travails of living in upper-class Manhattan. The mental image of Marueen Dowd as a slutty, drunk, evil despot probably appeals to a lot of people. I know it does to me.
Which reminds me: Before I get started, I have to take care of one other bit of business:

Bad things are happening in countries you shouldn’t have to think about. It’s all George Bush’s fault, the vice president is Satan, and God is gay.

There. Now I’ve written Frank Rich’s column too.
Frank Rich is a fellow New York Times columnist who is more predictable and reliably liberal than even Maureen Dowd, except with a narrower range of hot-button topics.
I think George Bush has proved definitively that to be president, you don’t need to care about science, literature or peace.
This sort of left-handed compliment is Colbert’s stock in trade, most famously exhibited when Colbert hosted the White House Correspondents Association dinner and called George Bush an idiot in so many words to his face.
Others point to my new bestseller, “I Am America (And So Can You!)” noting that many candidates test the waters with a book first. Just look at Barack Obama, John Edwards or O. J. Simpson.
Or Clarence Thomas.
Nevertheless, I am not ready to announce yet — even though it’s clear that the voters are desperate for a white, male, middle-aged, Jesus-trumpeting alternative.
MaureenColbert has a very salient point here. While all the Republican candidates are white, male, and nominally Christian, some evangelical groups have sent up smoke signals threatening to support a third party candidate if the Republican nominee is insufficiently theocratic.

And there is the rub with ouroburosian attempts at satire. Many people are incapable of discerning the difference and it becomes tough to see the humor. At what point does a liberal columnist imitating a fake right wing pundit come out of the other end of the rabbit hole as an unironic Rush Limbaugh clone?

Friday, October 12, 2007

DowdLust By The Numbers

Akapi of DailyKos confessed to a serious case of DowdLust with just a tinge of DowdHate. As much as we love MoDo here at the Dowd Report, we found his open panting just a little unseemly:

Frankly I find Maureen Dowd to be THE most attractive and sexy "pundit" in the world. And her "breathy soft delivery" simply amplify this deep lustful and emotional attachment that prods me on to look forward to devouring her column and scanning the TV Guide for any appearances she might be making (though she seems to be making fewer and fewer of said appearances).

So what's a good liberal to do? Reject her due to her obvious arrogance and somewhat inconsistent viewpoints (though recently she HAS been much more consistent).

Or simply love her for the beautiful,brilliant (She is a DAMNED GOOD writer with a unique and valuable insight),and dare I say it, sexy woman I find her to be?
He sought to find out how his readers felt and put up a poll that got 62 responses. The options were:
A. Smarmy
B. Annoying
C. Beautiful
D. Sexy
E. A and B
F. C and D
G. All of the above.
The pick more than one format led to some deceptive results. 16% picked annoying alone but 24% picked all of the above. I have distributed the multiple choice picks among the base categories and graphed them below:


Clearly most people find her annoying, but nearly half found her sexy. All the usual
caveats about sample size and self-selection of responses apply, but I have to conclude that many DowdLusters find her sexy because she is annoying and smarmy.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Brown Nose Brady

From Gawker I learned that that bastard James Brady is working my side of the street. On Forbes.com, he reviewed Maureen Dowd’s review of Arthur Schlesinger’s new book Journals. Not only did I beat him to the punch with my own review review by five days, I didn’t go all school-girl giddy. Listen to this gushing and hold back the retching:

She drops in a wonderful reference to the fact in his later years he was "perennially broke" and didn't even have a savings account. Gosh, just like most of us. Though whenever I saw Arthur out on the town (usually with his very tall, attractive and awfully pleasant wife Alexandra), he was impeccably (if tweed-ily) dressed and seemed to have cab fare.
See, the ass-kisser manages to call Dowd “wonderful” and still name drop that he sometimes ran into Schlesinger.
The impression, from the review, and not the book, is that Schlesinger comes off as a witty companion, educated and well-informed, and a prime suck-up. Like many of us, he loved to be around the beautiful and the powerful, not quite the court jester, but also not quite the humble boy outside on the street, his nose pressed up against the glass staring at the gentry inside.

I think Mo Dowd nailed the guy. I'm equally sure Schlesinger loyalists will come rushing to his defense. But isn't stirring things up what a good book review is all about?
I think we know who the prime suck-up is, Jim. And I definitely know what your nose is pressed up against.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Chicanery and The Man

Bomb, Bomb Iran
By MAUREEN DOWD
Published: October 10, 2007

John McCain has been captured on YouTube singing “bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran” to the tune of “Barbara Ann” by the Beach Boys.

Emboldened by her tour de farce in her Schlesinger schtick, Maureen Dowd unleashes an air assault of alliterations. A Democrat heckling Hillary falls into MoDo’s modus operendi.

A Democrat, Randall Rolph, asked Senator Clinton why he should back her when she did not learn her lesson after voting to authorize W. to use force in Iraq. He did not understand how she could have voted yea to urge W. to label Iran’s Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization, possibly setting the stage for more Cheney chicanery.
"Cheney chicanery" is verbal shorthand nothing short of genius that covers a wide range of dubious deceptions. He was one of the most vocal proponents of the Weapons of Mass Destruction meme and the Iraq-Al Qaeda Connection wishful thinking. Veep Vader has been itching to invade Iran for some time.
Hillary’s hawkish Iran vote was an ill-advised move, especially given her private view that Cheney is untrustworthy and given Sy Hersh’s New Yorker report claiming that Cheney had pushed to devise a plan to attack the Revolutionary Guard facilities in Iran.
Hillary voted for the resolution to use force against Iraq along with other warhawks, chickenhawks, and party hackhawks. Many, including Dowd think this was a political act designed to inoculate this distaff senator against charges of softness. As the war has become more unpopular, Clinton has had to spend more and more time telling the tale of the albatross around her neck.
When Hillary voted to let W. use force in Iraq, she didn’t even read the intelligence estimate. She wasn’t trying to do the right thing. She was trying to do the opportunistic thing. She felt she could not run for president, as a woman, if she played the peacenik.
Playing the peacenik would fall into the Republican plan to paint her as pawn of her draft-dodging partner.

And once Dowd runs out of consonants to confuse she returns to the “verb-up” formula she found so hip a few columns ago:
It was odd, given her success in the debates conveying the sense that she is the manliest candidate among the Democrats, that she felt the need to man-up on Iran.
And so ends another amazingly alliterative sarcastic salvo of Hillary hatin'.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Blog Watch: OJ Al

Updated 10/8/07 9:20 P.M.

There are basically two reactions to Sunday’s column where Dowd channels Clarence Thomas as OJ Simpson as political po-mo piece of theater. The first reaction is to blanch at the gall of Dowd passing the blame on Gore’s defeat on to Thomas when conventional wisdom is that she single-handedly scuttled Internet Al by endlessly criticizing his wardrobe and choice of college roommates. Wonkette (where yours truly has been known to be found) sees it as MoDo confessing:

It has been a while since we actually read MoDo regularly, so maybe our grasp of her grasp of irony is a bit rusty, but the whole thing is kinda funny considering how Dowd herself is nearly as responsible for Al’s political destruction as one vilified member of the court that sold him out!

It wasn’t until we were 9 paragraphs in that we even realized it was a hilarious Anita Hill joke and not just a belated admission of guilt on Dowd’s actual behalf.
The other level of umbrage was to take aim at the rather casual racism of equating a Supreme Court Justice with a Heismann Trophy winning running back. After all, football stars are respected members of society. Mike Wacker at the Cornell Daily Sun thinks the metaphor got taken a little too far:
Dowd even goes so far as to accuse Thomas of lynching Al Gore, which makes absolutely no sense not only because Bush v. Gore had nothing to do with race, but also because the victim of the lynching, Gore, is white. Honestly, Dowd needs to get off her holier-than-thou podium and discover what real lynchings were like before she ever makes such an idiotic and insensitive comparison again.
No More Mister Nice Blog objects to the minstrelization of poor Clarence:
Ripple and Marvin Gaye. That's part of what MoDo wants you to laugh at regarding Clarence Thomas -- the image of him listening to black-guy music while drinking cheap black-guy wine. It's not her only line of attack, but why is it in there at all?
Finally, Scott Lemieux succinctly just objects to the whole roleplaying aspect of the column:
Please never try to write satire in another voice ever again.
Ironically, the fake inner monologue was used by MoDo several years ago on none other than Al Gore himself. Perhaps she has gone to that well once too many times.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

The Real Killer

SPOILER WARNING:
This post reveals the M. Night Shyamalan style secret twist ending in the October 7, 2007 Maureen Dowd New York Times article.

I Did Do It
By MAUREEN DOWD
Published: October 7, 2007

O. J. Simpson wrote a book called If I Did It describing the hypothetical scenario that would explain the death of his ex-wife and her boyfriend. Many people assume it is a thinly veiled confession. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has written an autobiography titled My Grandfather's Son. Dowd has mashed up her review copies. Today’s column is written in the first person as the alleged voice of Clarence Thomas confessing to a crime.

Fine. I did it. Everything A. said — let’s just use the initial because it’s still hard for me to speak the name of my victim and tormentor — was true.

I did what I had to do and I didn’t care if it ruined A.’s life. I didn’t even care if people thought it was obscene.
We of course assume that “A.” is Anita Hill who accused Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment and exposing her to obscene material. More details about his disdain for A. follows:
Not the sort of person I’d like to tailgate with, listen to Marvin Gaye with, share Ripple or a Scotch and Drambuie or a blackberry brandy with — if I were still drinking.
Marvin Gaye is mentioned in Thomas’s biography as someone he admired when he went through a phase of Black radicalism. Marvin Gaye was also a famous soul singer whose smooth vocal stylings are often used to set a romantic seductive mood.

Ripple was a very cheap fortified wine associated with winos and lower class African-Americans from its many references on the 70s sitcom Sanford and Son. Judge Thomas confesses to excessive drinking in his book:
"His terrible words still burned in my memory a decade and a half later. Had Daddy been right after all?" Thomas wrote, the anguish evident in his words. "I poured myself a large glass of scotch and Drambuie over ice and downed it greedily, alone with my thoughts and afraid of what lay ahead."
The book details his decision to never drink again. Armstrong Williams in an NPR interview says he never saw Thomas drink alcohol. Dubya has also abstained from alcohol without ever entering a formal recovery program.
They’ve even shown the lighter side of Clarence. My new friend, ABC’s Jan Crawford Greenburg, called me one of “the most complex, compelling, maligned and misunderstood figures in modern history.” And thank you, Steve Kroft. I never thought “60 Minutes” could be so sweet.
Greenburg wrote an eight part Sparks Notes synopsis of Thomas’s book for ABCNews.com. Dowd should be thanking Greenburg for not making her read the whole thing. Many of the details mentioned in Dowd’s column are also covered in a long 60 Minutes profile by Steve Kroft. Portions of it are available on the official CBS website, but longer excerpts are linked to from the Mirror On America blog.

Then we get all literary:
From the time I was a kid, when my white classmates made fun of me as “ABC” — “America’s Blackest Child” — the beast of rage against The Man has gnawed at my soul.
From the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy discussion of war:
"It's just their defenselessness that tempts the tormentor, just the angelic confidence of the child who has no refuge and no appeal, that sets his vile blood on fire. In every man, of course, a beast lies hidden-the beast of rage, the beast of lustful heat at the screams of the tortured victim, the beast of lawlessness let off the chain, the beast of diseases that follow on vice, gout, kidney disease, and so on." (Brothers Karamazov, ii.V.4, "Rebellion")
It is unclear whether this passage is alluded to in Thomas’s book or MoDo’s imagination.

And this is the surprise twist ending:
So I voted to shut down the vote-counting in Florida by A. — oh, I’ll just say it: Al — because if he’d kept going he might have won. I helped swing the court in case No. 00-949, Bush v. Gore, to narrowly achieve the Bush restoration.

I know it wasn’t what my hero Atticus Finch would have done. But having the power to carjack the presidency and control the fate of the country did give me that old X-rated tingle.
Atticus Finch is the hero of high school English class staple To Kill a Mockingbird, a book Clarence Thomas relates to in his autobiography (via Harpers):
Somewhere in the back of my mind, I must have been thinking of To Kill a Mockingbird, in which Atticus Finch, a small-town southern lawyer, defends Tom Robinson, a black man on trial for the rape of a white woman.
Thomas’s current wife is white.

One of the accusations Anita Hill made was that Thomas was an aficionado of x-rated movies including the African-American pornstar Long Dong Silver.

Dowd’s wishful-thinking version of Thomas sums up:
It’s a relief to finally admit it: I’m proud to have hastened Al’s premature political death, hanging by hanging chads. It was, you might say, a low-tech lynching.
Maureen Dowd is often accused of aiding George W. Bush get elected by frequently criticizing Al Gore. Finally we now know the truth. It was Clarence Thomas avenging grudges and repaying old debts that did in Al Gore. In a twist worthy of a Scott Turrow novel, MoDo is off the hook because the real killer has confessed.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Gossip Gurus

In the International Herald Tribune, Maureen Dowd reviews a new collection of journal entries by noted economist Arthur Schlesinger Jr. Like the new TV series Gossip Girls, his journal kept all sort of catty comments about the Upper East Side circles he traveled in. The opening paragraph sets the tone.

It's hard not to like a book that expounds on Marilyn Monroe on one page and the Monroe Doctrine on the next. When Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. ruminates on the realm of hemispheric affairs, the transition from one Monroe to the other is seamless, as is the slide from Bosnia to Bianca Jagger and from Alexander Hamilton to Angie Dickinson. His diaries are a Tiffany's window of name-dropping. This is not history so much as historical trail mix.
Three pairs of alliterative allusions in the first paragraph. That is fast and furious even by MoDo standards. You are on your own for each of those. But the pace doesn't let up:
The old-school, bow-tied liberal and Kennedy courtier had a weakness for cafe society and Century Club martinis served by Arthur the Barbadian drinks waiter.
Schlesinger got his fame for being a special advisor to President John F. Kennedy. By calling him a Kennedy courtier (and making alliteration number four), Dowd evokes the Camalot metaphor for the Kennedy administration, a metaphor which is mixed and matched and abused throughout the rest of the review.

Arthur was also a member of the ultra-exclusive Century Association that has a toney clubhouse at 7 West 43rd Street. Other members include Mayor Bloomberg, Henry Kissinger, and Andy Rooney. Picture the rich guys in Trading Places. Arthur the Barbadian has me completely baffled. The prime minister of Barbados is named Owen Seymour Arthur, but I think Dowd is trying to evoke a meticulously dressed Caribbean manservant in juxtaposition to a Schwarzeneggerian Conan the Barbarian.

Dowd makes a couple of comparisons between Kennedy era figures from the book and modern newsmakers:
  • Adlai Stevenson = Barack Obama
  • McNamara, Rusk and Dulles = Cheney, Rummy and Condi
  • Schlesinger and The Bay of Pigs = Colin Powell and the invasion of Iraq
That Bay of Pigs/Iraq Invasion analogy is advanced by noting Schlessinger's reaction to the failure to overthrow Cuba:
"We not only look like imperialists . . . we look like stupid, ineffectual imperialists, which is worst of all," Schlesinger moans afterward.
In order to prove her point that the book is full of intellectual elitist gossip she mines the book for some of the dishiest stuff, much of it second hand, saving the subjects the need to look themselves up in the index:
Gary Hart is Gatsby. Walter Mondale is "a repressed and somewhat irascible Scandinavian." Mario Cuomo is "provincial" and "insecure," throwing inner obstacles in his own path. Bill Bradley is "dull," with "the deep thoughts of a bright sophomore."

John Kennedy calls Nixon "sick" and Johnson a "chronic liar." Jackie calls Nixon "a scurvy little thing."

Kissinger crowns Donald Rumsfeld "the rottenest person he had known in government"
And when you are called rotten by Nobel Peace Prize winner Henry Kissinger, that means something. Kissinger once said that faculty politics are so vicious because the stakes are so small. In reviewing Schlesinger's gossipy tell-all, Dowd points out that there is plenty of pettiness even when the stakes are enormous.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Blog Watch: TEAM Report

Say what you want about MoDo, people have firm opinions about here. How about a round up of recent calm rational assessments of her talent:

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford calls her “the ridiculously vapid Maureen Dowd

Chuckling offers the more nuanced assessment:

Although it’s true that so many of [Dowd's] columns are superficial and harmful to progressive politics, she is a sharp, funny writer and her quips, like the one above, can be quite entertaining and sometimes illustrate the truth of the matter.
Jennifer Hunter of the Chicago Sun-Times has an opinion more to our liking:
Dowd trashes every one, Democrat or Republican, with acuity and enviable style.
Finally, Guy Rundle, of Uppsala, Sweden, in a letter to the International Herald Tribune (the European arm of the NYT empire) takes her to task for occupational prejudice:
Maureen Dowd did such a good job excoriating both Mahmoud Ahmedinajad's record and his self-defeating critics on the right that one could almost forgive her for the elitist slight that the Iranian president has a Ph.D. in "traffic studies."

Well, what of it? Quite aside from the fact that political leadership is open to anyone, why should the well-established profession of traffic engineer be such a ridiculous profession? Given that it focuses on the management of complex public systems, it is just possible that it might make someone a better candidate for higher office than, say, a New York-based freelance writer?
I predict the formation of a group called TEAM – Traffic Engineers Against MoDo.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Swamp Rat

Sinking in a Swamp Full of Blackwater
By MAUREEN DOWD
Published: October 3, 2007

Blackwater is a term for wastewater contaminated with fecal matter and urine unsuitable for reuse. It also the name of a quasi-military training and security company.

Maureen Dowd goes all philosophical and quotes Nietzsche to illustrate the metaphorical quagmire that we are in.

“He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster,” Nietzsche said. “And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”
Friedrich Nietzsche was a nineteenth century philosopher most famous for questioning traditional moral structures and developing the concept of man and superman. The quote used is from Jenseits von Gut und Böse, (Beyond Good and Evil) published in 1886.
Americans have been antimercenary since the British sent 30,000 German Hessians after George Washington in the Revolutionary War.
Hessians were mercenary troops controlled by German princes sent to assist the British crown in suppressing the American Revolution. George Washington in his Farewell Address warned America about getting involved with foreign entanglements. MoDo also invokes by allusion another famous general turned president.
Once there was the military-industrial complex. Now we have the mercenary-evangelical complex.
The phrase “military industrial complex" was coined by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in his final speech in office:
This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence -- economic, political, even spiritual -- is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.
By invoking both Washington and Eisenhower, Dowd is contrasting their thoughtful and experienced wisdom with the reckless actions of the current draft-dodging president who has subcontracted out large portions of the logistical support of the Iraq war to politically connected contractors. MoDo connects the dots for the slower readers:
Mr. Prince [president of Blackwater USA], a former intern to the first President Bush and a former Navy Seal, is from a well-to-do and well-connected Republican family from Michigan.

He and his father both have close ties to conservative Christian groups. His sister was a Pioneer for W., raising $100,000 in 2004, and Erik Prince has given more than $225,000 to Republicans.

Blackwater, in turn, has been the beneficiary of $1 billion in federal contracts, including a no-bid contract with the State Department worth hundreds of millions.
A foreign entanglement driven by the profit motive of the military-industrial complex. Who could have predicted that would be a bad idea?

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Dowd n' Rich, Joined At The Lip

Both Frank Rich and Maureen Dowd used their valuable Sunday NYT Op-Ed space to either trash or advance Hillary Clinton depending on how you read the tea leaves (and here's my take). Let’s see how the pundits reacted to the tag team of MoRich (or is it FraDo?):

Joseph Palermo of the Huffington Post thinks the Hilary Democratic Coronation is a given, but summarizes the FraDo worries about Gore Syndrome and Clinton Fatigue:

In yesterday's New York Times, both Frank Rich and Maureen Dowd raise good points about what I call the "Hillary toboggan," the nearly universal sense among the commentariat that Ms. Clinton is destined to slide effortlessly downhill to the Democratic presidential nomination. For Rich, Clinton's overly cautious, stage-managed campaign, which "doesn't make gaffes, never goes off-message and never makes news" is reminiscent of Al Gore's languid 2000 effort, and we all know how that turned out. In Dowd's view the nation is already saturated with the Hillary brand name and her sixteen years of public fame could provide an opening for a lesser-known Republican out of sheer fatigue.
That sounds like a pretty concise summary. Others took it to be a little shriller. The Liberal Doomsayer tasks reliable liberals MoRich for trashing a Democrat instead focusing on the evil Republicans:
And no, my objection is not based on the fact that Frank Rich and Maureen Dowd were taking on Democrats as opposed to Republicans.
However, between Rich and fellow pundit Maureen Dowd, I believe the latter wins the nod for most fatuous “reporting.”
doomsy then goes on to completely misinterpret Dowd’s point that Hillary is the more competent of the two frontrunners in the nepotism derby. When Dowd says that Hillary is qualified to be president of Vassar, the response is:
That’s a pretty loathsome insult towards someone who has served in the United States Senate for the last seven years representing New York state.
Uh, I think it was meant as a compliment.

Scott Lemieux of The American Prospect's TAPPED blog sees Dowd being the more misogynist half of the opining couple because she quotes somebody that said mean sexist things about Hillary. Because nobody will hear them if we ignore them.
And, of course, when it comes to crocodile tears about Bush after working assiduously for a year to put him in the White House, even Rich can't hold a candle to his embarrassing colleague Maureen Dowd.
I’m not sure how Dowd or Rich ever helped Bush, but he then makes constructive criticism of the Democratic frontrunner tantamount to disloyalty:
Again, it's pretty clear that [Dowd's] too-little-too-late discovery that Bush is a bad president won't stop her from mounting an airhead assault on the most likely Democratic nominee. It would be nice if the Times could replace Dowd n' Rich with some columnists who actually write about politics.
Dowd n' Rich. Sounds like a country duo. Who has the big hair and who gets to wear the ass-kicking boots?

Monday, October 1, 2007

Blog Watch: Is MoDo Liberal?

With all the changes going on with the Jericho blasting of Times Select, the powers that be at the New York Times have been spinning it as best they could. The Times of course always get pillared for being THE Liberal Media and the stable of columnists is always trotted out as Exhibit A.

In an NYT interview Andrew Rosenthal, the dynastic scion of the late Abe "I'm Writing as Bad as I can" Rosenthal, claims not to be able to detect bias in Maureen Dowd’s writing:

I would defy anyone to label Maureen Dowd by party affiliation or ideology. I've known her and worked closely with her for 20 years and I can't tell you the answer to either one.
This eye-rollingly oblivious assessment has been seized upon by those to the right of the dittoheads as further proof of the inherent pinko-ness of the Times.

Mark Finkelstein of Newsbusters (self-described as “Exposing and Combatting Liberal Media Bias” as if it were an IED on the Information Superhighway) calls Rosenthal a drooling idiot in so many words:
What would be worse: that when Times editorial page editor Rosenthal claims not to know Maureen Dowd's politics he's not being honest -- or that he is?
Hoystory picks up on that kernel of a talking point and runs with it:
Is he serious? Maureen Dowd is a left wing liberal who hasn’t voted for a Republican for any elected office, from dog catcher on up, for her entire adult life.

I defy Maureen Dowd to prove me wrong. I’ve read, shudder, her columns for a handful of years and can tell you that.

Who does Rosenthal thinks buys that — on the left or the right?

Talk about treating your readers like complete morons. And some people wonder why the business is going in the tank.
If we can get one more blogger in the echo chamber, Rush Limbaugh might pick up on this groaner.

To put this tempest in a teabag to rest, let’s go to the Liberal Media itself. A study of North Carolina newspapers revealed that they ran more conservative editorials than liberal or progressive ones. Chad Killebrew, the executive editor of The Dispatch (a member of the New York Times Regional Media Group), examines the results and observes:
While some readers might disagree into which camp a certain columnist falls, I think for most writers it's rather obvious. No one will accuse Cal Thomas, for example, of being liberal or Maureen Dowd of being conservative.
Not only does he feel MoDo is liberal, he singles her out as the breed standard.

She is many other things such as wickedly funny, sharply sarcastic, and bitterly vicious, but she is also clearly liberal. Now that we have solved that conundrum I can move on to other important issues of the day like establishing ursine scatological habits and determining papal religious affiliations.