Sunday, December 14, 2008

Missing Maureen

Name: Maureen Dowd
Age: A well-preserved 56
Hometown: Washington, DC, but frequently seen lurking in the Halls of Power.
Last Seen: November 30, 2008
Recent Whereabouts: Drinking vodka martinis with Tina Fey

We here at Dowd Central are shaking with panic because for the fourth time in two weeks we have searched the New York Times Opinion page for our beloved Maureen only to find this frustratingly unenlightening notice:

Maureen Dowd is off today.
And while Tim Egan is doing a yeoman's job of filling the breach, despite some Kristol-like problems with getting quotes right, he is no MoDo.

If you have any first-hand knowledge of her current situation, or even some third-hand hearsay or innuendo, please let us know. Until then we will just have to light a vigil candle and pray that wherever she is, she is safe and warm and healthy.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Necessary Reading

With Maureen Dowd's long sabbatical well into it's second week, we here at Dowd Central have had to cast our nets a little wider to get the insightful yet still bitterly funny political insight that we are so addicted to. One mandatory feature of a blog that we have been remiss in deploying is the blogroll, that sidebar feature that directs traffic to other blogs far wittier and relevant that the one you are reading at the time. To rectify that situation, we have instituted one of our own featuring our favorite bloggers, bloggers that seem to have a Maureen Dowd obsession nearly as great as ours, and a few that are trainwrecks we just can't stop glancing at. You make the call about which are which. With no further ado, here we go.

Scriptoids. Grace Nearing (which is about the most sublime online moniker I have ever chanced across) always has a witty and pithy take on something or another. Never dull, frequently funny, and always thought provoking. That she is the most loyal commenter here has no bearing on her blog being placed on top of this list.

Jon Swift. While very low in Dowd-related content, Jon Swift is the preeminent conservative pundit on the web and the only one willing to make the bold pronouncements nobody else is making. He is also a leading advocate for the rights of Pseudonym-Americans. Despite the name, the blog is woefully short on recipes for Irish babies.

Bats Left/Throws Right. Doghouse Riley is one of more amusing curmudgeons on the web who is never short of an opinion about national or local politics.

Whiskey Fire. While blogmeister Thers is the ringleader, it is the Molly Ivors rants that really turn our crank. Invariably critical of the Dowdster, the label of invective Ivors muster makes one worry for her hypertension risk.

The Daily Howler. While a little long-winded, there is no greater DowdHater in the blogosphere than Bob Somerby. The depth and breadth of his decades long evisceration of Maureen is impressive in its obsession.

Shakesville. There is no more vociferous despiser of Dowd than Melissa McEwen and her viciously creative nicknames. And she has a lot to say about other topics as well.

Maureen Dowd Is Worthless. We here at Dowd Central pride ourselves on being the best blog devoted exlusively to Maureen Dowd, relying largely on our uniquity to justify the claim. Fortunately for us, newcomer MDIW is far more wide-ranging in topics than the title would imply.

As always, we are open to suggestions and commentary. Please let us know what else we should be paying attention to.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Actually, Most Days

Just how intentional was the irony in the last two paragraphs of Tim Egan's lament about Joe the Plumber getting a book deal?

There was a time when I wanted to be like Sting, the singer, belting out, “Roxanne ...” I guess that’s why we have karaoke, for fantasy night. If only there was such a thing for failed plumbers, politicians or celebrities who think they can write.

Maureen Dowd is off today.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Dowd Profiles Fey

Maureen Dowd is moonlighting as a celebrity journalist and has a profile of Tina Fey in this month’s Vanity Fair. Most of it chronicles the ugly duckling/rags-to-comedy-gold/My Fair Lady rise from chubby staff writer to pin-up girl for the Mensa set. Or as Maureen quotes another wag:

...the New Yorker staff writer Michael Specter calls “the sex symbol for every man who reads without moving his lips.”
As part of her research, she gets to hang out on the Upper West Side drinking vodka martinis, not exactly heavy lifting. She paints Tina as a ball-buster with a soft side. Tina’s husband is kept on a short leash.
Richmond wades in. “When we were first dating,” he says, harking back to Chicago in 1994, “some of the guys at Second City said, ‘Hey, wouldn’t it be a hoot if we go over—”’
”’—over to the Doll House,”’ Fey finishes. “ ‘We’ll go to this strip club ironically.’ I was like, ‘The fuck you will.”’
And Fey still recoils. “It didn’t go great when you came back, did it? I was very angry. It was disrespectful.”
Maureen even slips in a second-hand Rude Name®:
There’s a reason her former S.N.L. pal Colin Quinn dubbed Tina Fey “Herman the German.” She’s a sprite with a Rommel battle plan.
Other literary and pop cultural allusions thrown out include:
  • Leni Riefenstahl the Nazi filmographer
  • Elly May Clampett of The Beverly Hillbillies
  • Sally Bowles from Cabaret
  • Daisy Buchanan from The Great Gatsby
  • Elaine from Seinfeld
  • Mary Richards in The Mary Tyler Moore Show
And of course there are the Sarah Palin references as well as plenty of compare/contrast bits (mostly compare) between Tina and Liz Lemon, her 30 Rock alter ego.

Maureen seems to be carving out a niche as a interviewer of smart and funny celebs. It takes one snarky semi-bitter babe to know one.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Could Maureen Dowd Live On Thirteen Bucks A Week?

A Penny for My Thoughts?
Published: November 29, 2008

Maureen Dowd pulls a Friedman this week and looks down the long barrel of outsourcing as it moves into the dying and not even convincingly twitching world of newpapers.

The newspaper business is not only crumpling up, James Macpherson informed me here, it is probably holding “a one-way ticket to Bangalore.”

Macpherson — bow-tied and white-haired but boyish-looking at 53 — should know. He pioneered “glocal” news — outsourcing Pasadena coverage to India at Pasadena Now, his daily online “newspaperless,” as he likes to call it. Indians are writing about everything from the Pasadena Christmas tree-lighting ceremony to kitchen remodeling to city debates about eliminating plastic shopping bags.
The Pasadena Now website can be found here, and it’s a bright colorful page with all the bells and whistles expected from a modern Flash driven portal, but it hardly qualifies as a hard news source. The lead story is "Queen Skittles to Reign Over 2009 Doo Dah Parade". It also covers a mall opening and a Christmas tree lighting. But it looks better and cleaner than the home page of some Gray Ladies I could name.

And if you are looking for a Dickensian villain, James Macpherson fits the bill. He pays his Bangalore stringers starvation wages.
He fired his seven Pasadena staffers — including five reporters — who were making $600 to $800 a week, and now he and his wife direct six employees all over India on how to write news and features, using telephones, e-mail, press releases, Web harvesting and live video streaming from a cellphone at City Hall.

“I pay per piece, just the way it was in the garment business,” he says. “A thousand words pays $7.50.”
That would make the gross pay for Maureen’s twice-weekly 850-word essays about thirteen dollars a week. And while you can find DowdHaters convinced that even that would be overpaying her, it’s definitely not going to pay the mortgage on a Georgetown townhome or even dent her shoe debt to Aaron Sorkin.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Turkey Day Treat

Maureen Dowd has taken a long Thanksgiving holiday, so instead we recommend Thomas Friedman's column today on the fall of Citibank. In it he quotes a column by Michael Lewis.

Also check out Michael Lewis’s superb essay, “The End of Wall Street’s Boom,” on Lewis, who first chronicled Wall Street’s excesses in “Liar’s Poker,” profiles some of the decent people on Wall Street who tried to expose the credit binge — including Meredith Whitney, a little known banking analyst who declared, over a year ago, that “Citigroup had so mismanaged its affairs that it would need to slash its dividend or go bust,” wrote Lewis.
Of course, regular readers of Grace Nearing's Scriptoids knew of this excellent article nearly a week ago.

Let's hope Maureen gets that turkey spatchcocked correctly so that we can have a fresh column on Sunday instead of triptophen-laced leftovers.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Maureen at Claremont McKenna

Maureen Dowd's college tour continues with a recent talk at Claremont McKenna College in California. Joared of the Along The Way blog has a very detailed two-part blog post.

In Part 1, she talks about some background info about Dowd's early pre-journalism days.

After graduation, she became gainfully, happily and contentedly employed as a waitress, possibly as a respite from intense studies, I speculate. Eventually, her parents penetrated the comfort level of what might be described as an insulated cocoon that she was in no hurry to leave. They informed her, she said, that having paid for her higher education they expected her to seek work in a more professional arena offering a potential in keeping with her educational level.
The second part had plenty of juicy excerpts from the talk itself including Barack Obama's opinion of her:
Ms Dowd talked of accompanying Barack Obama on a return flight from Europe during his travel to various nations before he was the official Democratic Party presidential candidate. She was pleased to have been given an interview with him, then surprised when their talk concluded with him dismissing Aides to speak to her alone. His demeanor took on a very serious tone, she reported, as he said to her, "You're really irritating." Furthermore, she added, he repeated the same statement a second time.
It sounds like it was a delightful time.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Milking the Coyote

Marriage on the Rocks
Published: November 22, 2008

A full two weeks after the election, Maureen Dowd has stopped obsessing over Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton long enough to focus on another election day travesty. The passage of Proposition 8 in California and the imminent release of Sean Penn bio-pic Milk is so strikingly ironic that it takes Dowd an entire paragraph to explicate the Dowdversion™.

The movie, chronicling the rancorous California fight of gay activists against church-backed forces in the ’70s to prevent discrimination against gays, is opening amid a rancorous California fight of gay activists against church-backed forces to prevent discrimination against gays.
The news peg for turning a freebie film screening into a column long Movies With Maureen™ is the building backlash boycott against supporters of Prop 8.
Now that donor information can be found on the Internet, gay activists have called for boycotts of anyone who contributed to the law’s passing, from businesses small (El Coyote restaurant in L.A., where Sharon Tate had her last meal and Fabio and George Clooney nearly came to blows) to large (Utah ski resorts and Park City, Utah, theaters where Sundance movies are shown).
Here at DowdCentral we are unfamiliar with the haunts of the Hollywood heavy-hitters, but El Coyote seems to be a popular if slightly notorious hot-spot. The Manson family connection is detailed on the Haunted Hollywood website. The Clooney-Fabio slapfest was detailed in Defamer about a year ago, but they put the fight at rival restaurant Madeo.

But what would cause Maureen to conflate these two celebrity incidents that are wholly incidental to the Prop 8 debate. Perhaps the Dowdster is a fan of Huffington Post and Firedoglake contributor Lisa Derrick who had this to say on November 11th:
Marriage rights advocates are calling for a boycott of Los Angeles' legendary El Coyote Cafe where Sharon Tate ate her last meal, and Penelope Cruz and U2 have had much more successful dining experiences, though George Clooney and Fabio came to blows in the naugahyde upolstered dining room after the Italian romance model called Clooney "a diva."
From the gossip rag of record, the New York Post had this to say about the Clooney-Fabio incident:
On Friday, Clooney and gal pal Sarah Larsen were having dinner at L.A. eatery Madeo next to Fabio and a group of women. {snip} Clooney, assuming the woman was taking snaps of him, asked her to stop - prompting Fabio to explain that the shots were of his group, not Clooney, and to tell the superstar, "Stop being a diva." Clooney started arguing back, and he and Fabio then got into a shoving match.
Both Maureen Dowd and Lisa Derrick got their details wrong. I bet some fact-checker gets upbraided. Hopefully Lisa Derrick is proud to be Maureen Dowd's uncredited and unpaid research assistant. Otherwise, I see another fight erupting over El Coyote.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

By The Numbers

Two for the Price of Two
Published: November 18, 2008

This column is just a continuation of Maureen Dowd’s piece from Sunday discussing the merits of Hillary Clinton becoming Secretary of State. As such, let’s run the numbers.

One Dowdversion®:

Just as Bill elevated his sprawling, chaotic personality into a management style, so Barry is elevating his spare, calm personality into a management style.
Two Alliteration Alerts™:
But then Obama surpised Bill and Hillary by offering her a chance at the secretary of state job. Maybe because the Clintonian perspective on anyone who opposes them tends to be paranoid, the couple wasn’t expecting such a magnanimous move and they were pleased to be drawn back in from the margins.

And in turn, Bill is doing all he can — he’s disclosing sketchy donors and business interests and figuring out how he could curb his global gallavanting to have fewer conflicts of interest — to help her get the job.
53 percent of the popular vote:
But 42 will probably always be somewhat steamed at 44. Not only because of the Obama camp calling him out on his racially coded poison darts in South Carolina. Bill is surely jealous that his Democratic successor got a majority of the popular vote with 53 percent;
500,000 dollars:
It says it all that, at the moment Washington became obsessed with news that Hillary was a contender for State, Bill was getting a half-million for an hour’s worth of chat sponsored by the National Bank of Kuwait, delivered from behind a podium with a camel and Arabic lettering on it.
One very left-handed compliment:
But why support Hillary for Madam Secretary if you don’t her for Madam President?

“I don’t think they’re the same job at all, do you?” [David Geffen] replied.

I told him I agreed. Completely.
Which I guess counts as the official Maureen Dowd endorsement.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

With Frenemies Like This...

Frenemy: Someone who is both friend and enemy, a relationship that is both mutually beneficial or dependent while being competitive, fraught with risk and mistrust.

Keep your friends close and your enemies closer
-Michael Corleone
Team of Frenemies
Published: November 16, 2008

After two good months of having Sarah Palin to kick around, Maureen Dowd is forced to return to her raison d’être, bashing Clintons. Senator Hillary Clinton is being floated as trial balloon for Secretary of State and Maureen is there to insure as much lead gets loaded as needed. Her basic argument comes down to “Why, for God’s sake why?”
There are Obama aides and supporters who are upset that The One who won on change has ushered in déjà vu all over again. The man who vowed to deliver us from 28 years of Bushes and Clintons has been stocking up on Clintonites.
For one thing, she points out that the prolonged primary fight created a lot of ill-will between the camps. And Bill Clinton is one to carry a grudge. In a gold-trimmed briefcase.
As Newsweek reported, last January Bill got so worked up in a phone call with Donna Brazile that he ranted, “If Barack Obama is nominated, it will be the worst denigration of public service.” The magazine also revealed that “the former president had amassed an 81-page list of all the unfair and nasty things the Obama campaign had said, or was alleged to have said, about Hillary Clinton.”
And the Obama camp is being very thorough in vetting their potential nominees to avoid any Lani Guinier episodes right from the get-go. And it’s a list that the Clintons with their baggage probably wouldn’t pass if it weren’t for name recognition.
If Hillary wants to be Madame Secretary, Bill will have to put away the 81-page list and pick up the 63 questions in the Obama vetting questionnaire, an unprecedented deep probe of potential cabinet members and their spouses.
Heh, heh, she said "probe." But I digress.
Even if Bill scurries past the questions on sexual harassment claims, conflicts of interest, civil suits, real estate holdings, federal investigations, diaries, gifts worth more than $50 and Internet aliases, the Clintons will still have to grapple with No. 8: “Briefly describe the most controversial matters you have been involved with during the course of your career.” (It would take books, and it has.)
Their disclosure form would be the first to include a bibliography. But Maureen takes delight in one question in particular.
Not to mention No. 62: “Do you know anyone or any organization ... that might take steps, overtly or covertly, fairly or unfairly, to criticize your nomination, including any news organization?”
Does the phrase “vast right-wing conspiracy” ring any bells? Not to mention that Dowd herself would require her own entry on this list.

Besides, there are other people on the Foggy Bottom short-list who might be miffed at being stepped-over by the carpetbagger from New York.
You can hear the gnashing of teeth from John Kerry — who thought the job was promised to him in return for his endorsement after New Hampshire — and Bill “Judas” Richardson, who met Friday with Obama in Chicago to discuss the job.
The “Judas” nickname is not Maureen’s doing. It was given to Richardson by Clinton spear-carrier James Carville as told by the news side of the Times when Richardson endorsed Obama instead of Clinton.
The reaction of some of Mr. Clinton’s allies suggests that might have been a wise decision. “An act of betrayal,” said James Carville, an adviser to Mrs. Clinton and a friend of Mr. Clinton.

“Mr. Richardson’s endorsement came right around the anniversary of the day when Judas sold out for 30 pieces of silver, so I think the timing is appropriate, if ironic,” Mr. Carville said, referring to Holy Week.
To telegraph the camps a little more clearly, Maureen goes on to quote Carville’s Corleone-esque advice in the next paragraph.
And Joe Biden would probably like a little less blond ambition at State so he could be the shadow secretary. But as James Carville has said, a campaign is the time to stab your enemies and a transition is the time to stab your friends.
And blond ambition is as close to a Movies With Maureen® as we are going to get, although I suspect she was playing off of the John Dean tell-all rather than the Jessica Simpson stinker.

Since this is essentially a by-the books anti-Clinton screed that Maureen keeps on hand for rainy days, let’s just hit the trademarked telltales:

The Alliteration Alert® (with bonus points for a glass ceiling crack):
And why should the woman who made 18 million cracks go back to being junior to Chuck Schumer, if she could be toasted from Dublin to Dubai?
A Dowdversion®:
On the down side, Hillary would be taking over a big and demoralized government bureaucracy, after proving with her campaign that she does not know how to run a big and demoralized group of people.
The Crossword Clue of the Week®:
How, one may ask, can he put Hillary — who voted to authorize the Iraq war without even reading the intelligence assessment — in charge of patching up a foreign policy and a world riven by that war?
And finally while not a trademarked feature, no mention of Clintons can go without a few potshots at the Big Dog.
If you have a president who’s willing to open up his universe to other smart, strong people, if you have a big dog who shares his food dish, the Bill Clinton era is truly over.

Appointing a Clinton in the cabinet would be so un-Clintonian.
And if that were the case, how would Maureen know how to react?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Silk Stalkings

Boxers, Briefs or Silks?
Published: November 11, 2008

Sarah Palin is the best thing to happen to Maureen Dowd’s sense of sarcasm since Monica Lewinsky snapped her thong in front of Big Dog Bill Clinton who deigned to answer the original version of the titular question. The sartorial scandal caused by Palin purloining GOP party dresses is garment gold. Just listen to the Alliteration Alert™ alarm as she executes a rare intertwined fusillade of funny phonics.

The snippy McCain snipers once loved Palin’s sassy ability to burn Barack Obama and Joe Biden with snide little remarks.
Palin is sending Dowd to new heights of invective. Maureen has made the My Fair Lady analogy three times in as many months, but she has now given it an extra sting by spinning it into a Rude Name®.
Palin’s father, Chuck Heath, told The Associated Press over the weekend that his daughter was “frantically” trying to sort out the clothes she got as Eliza Knowlittle so she could send them back.

“You know,” Heath said, “the kids lose underwear, and everything has to be accounted for.”
And the mention of unmentionables just drives Dowd delirious.
The campaign was charged for silk boxers, spray tanners and 13 suitcases to carry the designer duds, Shear reported, adding that one source said, “She was still receiving shipments of custom-designed underpinnings up to her ‘Saturday Night Live’ performance” in October. Silk boxers and custom-designed underpinnings? Sounds like Sarah and Todd were treating the vice presidential run as a second honeymoon.
And keeping with the undergarments theme, she concludes with a giggle about girdles.
Palin should follow her own reformer precedent and put the borrowed underpinnings on eBay. The windfall would undergird her new presidential bid.
Talk about establishing a firm foundation. Someone needs to tell Palin not to get her panties in knot if she expects to have a run at the presidency rather than just get one in her stockings.

Today’s photo illustrations are used with permission
(a novel concept for us here at Dowd Central)
from fashion blog Sparked
which has plenty of its own Palin snark.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Some Of Her Best Friends

People say I'm the life of the party
Cause I tell a joke or two
Although I might be laughing loud and hearty
Deep inside I'm blue

So take a good look at my face
You'll see my smile looks out of place
Just look closer, it's easy to trace
The tracks of my tears
I need you, need you.
-Smokey Robinson
The Tracks of Our Tears
Published: November 8, 2008

All over the country, Barack Obama’s election is starting a new dialog on race amongst Americans. Maureen Dowd notices the zeitgeist:
I grew up in the nation’s capital, but I’ve never seen blacks and whites here intermingling as they have this week.

Everywhere I go, some white person is asking some black person how they feel.
And what sort of people are getting asked, and more importantly, what sort of places does Maureen go to?
I saw one white customer quiz his black waitress at length at a chic soul food restaurant downtown, over deviled eggs and fried chicken livers, about whether she cried when Barack Obama won.
I saw three white women asking a black bartender at the Bombay Club, across Lafayette Park from the White House, if he was happy and what he thought about Jesse Jackson’s flowing tears at Grant Park, given his envious threat to cut off a sensitive part of Obama’s anatomy.
I saw a white-haired white woman down the block from me running out to strike up a conversation with a black U.P.S. delivery guy, asking him how he felt and what this meant to him.
I heard my cute black mailman talking in an excited voice outside my house Friday, so I decided I should go ask him how he was feeling about everything, the absolute amazement of the first black president.
So there you have it, as Maureen Dowd goes out to chi-chi soul food places, toney nightclubs, or just spends her days looking out the window of her Georgetown townhome, she sees black folk of all economic positions: waitresses, bartenders, delivery guys and even mailmen. But not if they see her first.
[The mailman] shot me a look of bemused disdain as he walked away. I suddenly realized, with embarrassment, that he was on his Bluetooth, deep in a personal conversation that had nothing to do with Barack Obama.
So who does Maureen have to talk racial issues with? She mentions Howard University, just a short bus ride away from her, but it would be too much trouble to interview an actual African-American professor or lawyer or businessman. Instead she just ruminates if maybe this is too much trouble.
But is it time now for whites to stop polling blacks on their feelings?

I’ll have to call my friend Gwen Ifill tomorrow and ask her how she feels about that.
Gwen, being the African-American correspondent for PBS’s News Hour With Jim Lehrer and moderator of the vice-presidential debates and working on a book about Barack Obama’s campaign surely has nothing better to do than enlighten the poor benighted Maureen. Perhaps they can meet for brunch over waffles and chicken.

I am imagining dozens (well, at least a couple) of easily umbraged bloggers taking Maureen to task for this lazy approach to racial relations. Buy they would be missing the subtext of the column. All the service industry people Dowd eavesdrops on answer their over-reaching white patrons thoughtfully, and dare I say, articulately. Dowd is mocking the white people that need to get a black person's, any black person's validation. It is the rest of us that need to think through our reaction to, well, what exactly is he?
Was Barack Obama the first or the second black president, or alternatively, the first half-white, half-black president?
We have years to ponder and discuss the social and psychological implications of Barack Obama's election. Just don’t go chasing the guys on the recycling truck down the street to get their opinion.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Dowd Sees A New Dawn

Bring on the Puppy and the Rookie
Published: November 5, 2008

Maureen Dowd took an extra day to file her column so that she could soak in the atmosphere of the cleaner brighter air of a new era.

I walked over to the White House Tuesday night and leaned against the fence. How can such a lovely house make so many of its inhabitants nuts?

There was no U-Haul in the driveway. I don’t know if W. was inside talking to the portraits on the wall. Or if the portraits can vanish from their frames, as at Hogwarts Academy, to escape if W. is pestering them about his legacy.
She is referring to President Nixon’s habit of talking to the portraits in the White House. This habit of his has been documented in biographies, filmed in Oliver Stone’s Nixon and satirized on Saturday Night Live. Maureen’s twist is that, like the ghosts in the Harry Potter novels, they might not want to talk back.

As she thinks back on the incredible campaign that has put an African-American in the White House, she recalls the casual racism that still exists in this country.
But I had been astonished by the overt willingness of some people who didn’t mind being quoted by name in The New York Times saying vile stuff, that a President Obama would turn the Rose Garden into a watermelon patch, that he’d have barbeques on the front lawn, that he’d make the White House the Black House.
Maureen has the class to not quote that person by name, but she doesn’t really have to. Internet forums and blog comment sections are rife with that rather tired racist watermelon joke. For example, it shows up as a post by a CAP-LOCKS challenged self-styled comedian in a FoxNews forum. This one thread with over 7000 comments serves as clearinghouse for all the nutty bitter post election invective that might make RedState members blanch.

In Washington, DC, the front of the White House was the center of celebration for revelers wanting to blow off some steam.
Americans all over the place were jumping for joy, including the block I had been on in front of the White House, where they were singing: “Na, na, na, na. Hey, hey, hey. Goodbye.”
Joel Achenbach of the Washington Post was also among that crowd and had this dispatch:
It was an explosion of joy. Strangers hugged. People danced in clusters. The air became saturated with the sound of honking car horns from all points of the compass. Police stayed back, barely perceptible on the periphery. The White House itself was darkened, with hardly a sign of life. But people called toward the president's house anyway, and chanted. One group started a song:
Na na na na
Na na na na
Hey hey hey
In front of the White House, the celebrants came up with a new chant to direct toward the mansion: "Pack! Your! S--t!"
But Maureen found more than exuberance, she found Hope.
There have been many awful mistakes made in this country. But now we have another chance.

As we start fresh with a constitutional law professor and senator from the Land of Lincoln, the Lincoln Memorial might be getting its gleam back.

I may have to celebrate by going over there and climbing up into Abe’s lap.

It’s a $50 fine. But it’d be worth it.
She better be careful. There may be line headed up by T. M. Shine.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Obama Hangover

No Maureen Dowd column today. At the bottom of Friedman's column is this announcement:

Maureen Dowd will appear on Thursday.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

The Skinny On Obama

Who’s the Question Mark?
Published: November 1, 2008

Today’s column is Maureen Dowd’s last before the votes get cast and she rightly exposes how the straight-talking McCain has become a chameleon hiding behind talking points so much so that voters cannot truly recognize the man he used to be.

Why did a politician who once knew how to play the game so well, who was once so beloved by people of very different political stripes, allow his campaign to get whiny, angry, vengeful and bitter?
In it, Dowd puts the blame on campaign strategist Steve Schmidt whom she gives a trademarked Rude Name:
But ever since Sergeant Schmidt put Captain McCain into a sterile brig on the trail, the candidate has become a question mark.
The Captain McCain reference makes me think of the instant classic Drew Friedman cartoon portraying McCain as the hotheaded Captain Kirk and Obama as the cool alien Mr. Spock.

And while most of the column asks rhetorical questions on how McCain lost control of his campaign, there is only short paragraph about Obama, but it bears further analysis. Within one sentence is an entire campaign season of innuendos and allusions.
And it is Obama, who sashayed onto the trail two years ago as an aloof and exotic mystery man with a slim record and a strange name, now coming across as the steadier brand.
Let’s break down the pieces.

Sashay: Dowd got her wrist-slapped for excessive effeminization of Barack and the verb sashay evokes a mincing that backslides into this bit. The last use of this word was a year ago and referred to Hillary that time.
Maybe it’s fitting that a woman who first sashayed into the national consciousness with an equation — “two for the price of one” — may have her fate determined by the arithmetic of dynasty.
Aloof: As opposed to the previously gregarious McCain, Obama has often been portrayed as being more reserved. Dowd has described Barack as aloof at least twice. In June, Karl Rove was trying to promote Obama as a sneering elitist.
Obama can be aloof and dismissive at times, and he’s certainly self-regarding, carrying the aura of the Ivy faculty club.
But Rove was only empahasizing an opinion that was already out there. Back in April, he was not only aloof, he was abstemious.
But the candidate is boringly abstemious — and reporters traveling with him find him aloof.
Exotic: This adjective is usually seen as an off-putting quality. It has been used at least three times. Back in August, Dowd said voters were still having a hard time connecting to Barack.
And the prejudice is visceral: many Americans, especially blue collar, still feel uneasy about the Senate’s exotic shooting star, and he is surrounded by a miasma of ill-founded and mistaken premises.
But also in April.
At the very moment when his fate hangs in the balance, when he is trying to persuade white working-class voters that he is not an exotic stranger with radical ties, the vainglorious Rev. Wright kicks him in the stomach.
Even when he is following the conventional wisdom, he is attacked for his foreigness. Dowd presents the paradox back in July.
He must simultaneously defend himself for being too exotic and, because of recent moves, too conventional.
But exotic can also mean erudite and effete. During his grand world tour, Dowd connected it with more European mores.
Since he’s already fighting the perception that he’s an exotic outsider, he can’t be seen as too insidery with the Euro-crats. He doesn’t want a picture of him nibbling on a baguette to overtake the effete image of the Europhile John Kerry windsurfing.
Slim: Normally here at Dowd Central, we would take umbrage at anyone taking slim out of context here, but Maureen has a history of using slimness as a defining feature of Barack. A fictional Hillary had this to say:
My gals know when I say ‘We may have started on two separate paths but we’re on one journey now’ that Skinny’s journey is to the nearest exit.”
But Dowd sees it as a positive trait.
It does not occur to Parisians that Americans will choose the old, white-haired one if they can have the cool, skinny one with the Ray-Bans, John le Carré novels, chic wife and secret cigarettes.
She quotes Obama as defending his weight class:
“I try to explain to people, I may be skinny but I’m tough,” he told a crowd of more than 15,000 in Hartford the other night, with the Kennedys looking on. “I’m from Chicago.”
But being that thin seems too off-putting to some voters. Dowd stretches the metaphor to food.
As Carol Marin wrote in The Chicago Sun-Times, The Lanky One is like an Alice Waters organic chicken — “sleek, elegant, beautifully prepared. Too cool” — when what many working-class women are craving is mac and cheese.
Strange name: In March Dowd connected his slimness to his exoticness through his strange name.
And whether we can take a flier on this skinny guy with the strange name and braided ancestry to help us get it back.
So we will let others find the "erratica/dramatica" wordplay or the "tech tyro" alliteration. After Tuesday we need to get used to the themes of an aloof, exotic, skinny guy with a strange name running the country. In other words, prepare for Mr. Spock.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Going Off Script

Screenplay by

Maureen Dowd
Revised third draft
© Oct. 29, 2008

Inspired by the success of former boyfriend Aaron Sorkin's guest turn as a columnist, Maureen Dowd tries her hand at screenwriting, complete in Final Draft style with courier font and everything. The title of course, connects the Meryl Streep movie about fashion writing with Sarah Palin's recently revealed shopping spree.

But first, let's meet the players:

NICOLLE WALLACE, a slender, preppie-looking blonde wearing a string of pearls...She is a top McCain adviser under STEVE SCHMIDT who has been seconded to SARAH PALIN.
Nicolle Wallace née Devenish is a White House Communications Director and current McCain campaign spokesperson.
TRACEY SCHMITT, another blonde sorority type in pearls, also a Bush person who became a McCain person who was then sent over to manage PALIN as her press secretary.
Formerly the spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee.
(photo courtesy of Mediabistro)
And now for some highlights:


Steve’s freaking out. You know how he is about message discipline, much less completely losing a candidate. He’s got enough on his plate scaring the nursing-home Jews in Florida and painting Obama as a Palestinian Marxist Madrassa Child.

Steve Schmidt (no relation to Tracey) is McCain's senior campaign strategist, previously described by Maureen as "a Rove protégé, nicknamed “The Bullet” for his bald pate."


She’s probably at The Weekly Standard, plotting her shining city on the tundra with Fred Barnes and Bill Kristol. I can’t believe Barnes called me a coward because I tried to update that $30 Wasilla beehive that made her look like the girlfriend in an Elvis movie and upgrade her from pleather to leather.

Palin's rise to national prominence is often traced back to some kaffeeklatsches she had with the two prominent neocons during shoreleave from a Weekly Standard Alaska cruise.


Look, Tracey, maybe Sarah doesn’t know who Berlusconi is, but she does know who Valentino is. She saw those labels. She knew we were being sartorial socialists and spreading the wealth to Neiman’s and Saks. She liked being pampered like a movie star. We should have learned from W. If you can keep a war off budget, why can’t you keep a wardrobe off budget? I told the press if someone wants to throw me under the bus, my personal belief is that the most graceful thing to do is lie there.

Silvio Berlusconi is the prime minister of Italy and his name only sounds like a famous designer. We also get in this quote the Alliteration Alert® of "sartorial socialists" and the war/wardrobe Dowdversion®. Some nice really tight scriptwriting from Dowd. And the thrown under the bus metaphor is real.


I’ll be glad when this blind date from hell is over and I can get away from the dysfunctional Palin clan and back to walking my dog, Lily, in Central Park with my pinko liberal friends. I knew Katie would be brutal, but thank God I arranged that interview because now I can go back to my gig as a political analyst at CBS.

In the revolving door world of the punditocracy, Wallace was political analyst for the CBS Evening News until May 2008.


You betcha!
And scene.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Palin's Pretty Woman Shopping Spree

A Makeover With an Ugly Gloss
Published: October 26, 2008

Anyone thinking Maureen Dowd wouldn’t go off on the reports of Sarah Palin’s $150,000 shopping spree was sadly mistaken.

Politico broke the news that the Republican National Committee spent over $150,000 on a “Pretty Woman”-style shopping spree for Palin, including about $75,000 at Neiman Marcus in Minneapolis and nearly $50,000 at Saks Fifth Avenue in New York and St. Louis.
But the Julia Roberts "hooker with a heart of gold and credit card of platinum" movie isn’t the only Movies With Maureen® we get. She also returns to the My Fair Lady motif she mined back in the “My Fair Veep” column.
Instead, with the economy cratering and the McCain campaign running on an “average Joe” theme, dunderheaded aides, led by the former Bushies Nicolle Wallace and Tracey Schmitt, costumed their Eliza Doolittle for a ball when she should have been dressing for a bailout.
And it seems the Cockney flower girl make-over metaphor went as far as actually hiring Sarah a diction coach to make sure "the snow in Juneau falls mainly on the moose."
In The New York Times Magazine today, Robert Draper reveals that the campaign also hired a former New York stage and screen actress, Priscilla Shanks, to be her voice coach for the convention. The expense was listed in finance reports as Operating Expenditures and Get-Out-The-Vote consulting. Apparently getting out the vote includes teaching a potential vice president the correct way to pronounce “nuclear.”
And just to drum in the Palin-as-plaything point, Maureen extends the Barbie metaphor to breaking.
McCain advisers have been scathing about the “sexism” of critics who dismiss Sarah Palin as Caribou Barbie.

How odd then, to learn that McCain advisers have been treating their own vice presidential candidate like Valentino Barbie, dressing her up in fancy clothes and endlessly playing with her hair.
Dowd also deploys a pretty clever Dowdversion™ stealing VH1's "Best Week Ever" upgrade/downgrade bit.
The sartorial upgrade was bound to turn into a strategy downgrade, as Palin pressed her case as a homespun gal who was ever so much more American than the elite, foreignish Obama, while she was gussied up in Italian couture.
And some nice Alliteration Alerts® are buried in this line:
The Republicans’ attempt to make the case that Barack Obama is hoity-toity and they’re hoi polloi has fallen under the sheer weight of the stunning numbers:

The McCains own 13 cars, eight homes and access to a corporate jet, and Cindy had her Marie Antoinette moment at the convention.
To drive home the “let them eat cake” hypocrisy of the candidates, Dowd enumerates the convention night couture on parade.
Vanity Fair calculated that her outfit cost $300,000, with three-carat diamond earrings worth $280,000, an Oscar de la Renta dress valued at $3,000, a Chanel white ceramic watch clocking in at $4,500 and a four-strand pearl necklace worth between $11,000 and $25,000. While presenting herself as an I’m-just-like-you hockey mom frugal enough to put the Alaska state plane up for sale on eBay, Palin made her big speech at the convention wearing a $2,500 cream silk Valentino jacket that the McCain staff had gotten her at Saks.
Maureen also pays Palin two rather left-handed compliments:
She is so naturally good-looking, there is no need to gild the Last Frontier lily.
As a former beauty pageant contestant and sports anchor on TV, Palin already seemed on top of her grooming before the McCain campaign made her traveling makeup artist, Amy Strozzi, the highest-paid individual on the campaign for the first two weeks of October.
At the end of the column, Maureen makes a suspicious presidential succession assumption.
The conservative big shots who have not deserted Palin and still think she can be Reagan in a Valentino skirt are furious at those who have mishandled the governor and dimmed her star power. They mourn that she may have to wait now until 2016 to get rid of the phony stench of designer populism.

Makeovers are every woman’s dream. But this makeover has simply pushed back Palin’s dream of being president.
This scenario seems to assume that if the McCain/Palin ticket would win that McCain wouldn’t survive two full terms. Hoping for that sort of tragic upgrade is too much for even a Cinderella-in-go-go-boots to hope for.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Maureen's College Tour

The normally reticent Maureen Dowd has been doing more public appearances than usual lately. Near the end of September she made two appearances at Angelo State University. The first was to a select group of journalism and politics students and a second to the general public. An article on the Go San Angelo website offers plenty of bon mots, but the most relevant to this blogger was this:

Blogging - With so many people producing so much commentary on the Internet, originality becomes more difficult, she said.
Then on October 20, she made a joint appearance at the University of Nevada Las Vegas with fellow New York Times columnist Alessandra Stanley as part of the Moskow Distinguished Speaker Series. The article in the Rebel Yell (which is also the source of the accompanying picture) had this to say:
Dowd and Stanley touched on recent and current events, particularly the 2008 presidential campaigns of Seantors Barack Obama and John McCain, the "MBA presidency" of George W. Bush and media influence on politics.
Her trend of West Coast junkets continues next month with a trip to UC-Santa Barbara. The appearance is being puffed thusly:
The only female op-ed columnist at The New York Times, Dowd is known for her witty, incisive and often acerbic portraits of the powerful. She became a media celebrity for her withering attacks on President Bill Clinton’s infamous affair and his accusers.
Couldn't have said it better myself. More details including how to get tickets can be found here.

As always, here at Dowd Central we are always looking for quotes and sightings of the Times's loveliest twice-weekly op-ed columnist.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Colin's Courage

Moved by a Crescent
Published: October 21, 2008

Maureen Dowd in an abnormally subdued column pays tribute to Colin Powell's courage in overcoming his party affiliation to endorse Barack Obama.

But what sent him over the edge and made him realize he had to speak out was when he opened his New Yorker three weeks ago and saw a picture of a mother pressing her head against the gravestone of her son, a 20-year-old soldier who had been killed in Iraq. On the headstone were engraved his name, Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan, his awards — the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star — and a crescent and a star to denote his Islamic faith.
That picture and the accompanying New Yorker article can be found here. The caption simply says:
Elsheba Khan at the grave of her son, Specialist Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan.
But Maureen digs a little deeper and quotes the year-old obituary from the Newark Star-Ledger.
His obituary in The Star-Ledger of Newark said that he had sent his family back pictures of himself playing soccer with Iraqi children and hugging a smiling young Iraqi boy.
This image was enough for Colin Powell to break ranks with his party and call-out often unsubtle religious bigotry being paraded on the campaign trail.
In a gratifying “have you no sense of decency, Sir and Madam?” moment, Colin Powell went on “Meet the Press” on Sunday and talked about Khan, and the unseemly ways John McCain and Palin have been polarizing the country to try to get elected. It was a tonic to hear someone push back so clearly on ugly innuendo.
Dowd deliberately invokes the words of Joseph Welch's rebuke of Senator Joe McCarthy during his witch hunts. This time whispers of "Muslim" have replaced "communist" as the short-hand for "anti-American."

The column is not completely free of Dowdisms. She does combine a Rude Name and a Crossword Clue in a swipe at Colin's former commander-in-chief.
Even though he watched W. in 2000 make the argument that his lack of foreign policy experience would be offset by the fact that he was surrounded by pros — Powell himself was one of the regents brought in to guide the bumptious Texas dauphin — Powell makes that same argument now for Obama.
Dowd last used 'dauphin' to insult W. just over a year ago. She sums up with Powell's words that now refer to a new politician.
“Experience is helpful,” he says, “but it is judgment that matters.”
And the value of judgment is being able to turn mistakes into valuable experience, something that is not happening in the current White House.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Let The Tumbrels Rumble

After W., Le Deluge
Published: October 18, 2008

Maureen Dowd, the Queen Bee of the Forth Estate has decreed that the current economic disaster be compared to the French Revolution. Let’s go through the references.

It is the best of times, it is the worst of times.
Since most people’s knowledge of the French Revolution starts and ends with A Tale of Two Cities, that is where Maureen starts, fittingly with the first line from Charles Dickens's high school reading list classic. She then moves on to the book’s famous plotting knitter.
I’m feeling as vengeful and bloodthirsty as Madame Defarge sharpening her knitting needles at the guillotine.
But it doesn’t end there. She makes a decent pun on Reign of Terror by recasting it as Dubya’s more mistake prone epoch.
The best of times because W.’s long Reign of Error is about to end.
She also makes reference to Marie Antoinette:
In an astonishing let-them-eat-cake moment, the A.I.G. big shot Sebastian Preil held court at the bar and told an undercover reporter, “The recession will go on until about 2011, but the shooting was great today and we are relaxing fine.”
And finally, the Crossword Puzzle Clue Of The Week is also guillotine related. A tumbrel is “a crude cart used to carry condemned prisoners to their place of execution, as during the French Revolution.”
I can’t wait to see the tumbrels rumble up and down Wall Street picking up the heedless and greedy financial aristocracy that plundered and sundered free-market capitalism.
Dowd also raises the bonus degree of difficulty of sneaking in two internal rhymes into that one sentence.

Most of the article is outrage directed at the outrageous behavior of AIG executives who are beyond the ability to be shamed publicly. Dowd suggests public mockery.
The New York Times should follow up the excellent Portraits of Grief it did after 9/11 with Portraits of Greed.
But beyond the storming the Bastille rhetoric, she saves some asides for McCain’s latest living metaphor.
The paper reported that the A.I.G. revelers stayed at Plumber Manor — not the ancestral home of Joe the Plumber, a 17th-century country house in Dorset — and spent $17,500 for food and rooms.
Poor Joe is also the victim of another aside:
John McCain wasted his last-chance debate Wednesday by trying to stir up faux class rage against Barack Obama with Joe the Unvetted Plumber instead of tapping into the real class rage the country feels over bailing out ungrateful financiers who gambled away the life savings of working people.
And when it comes to expressing class rage, nobody outclasses Maureen.
Heads must roll.
And when Maureen says "Off with their head!" Somebody gets a really really close shave.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Palin Pundit Peace Prize

Those Hard-Boiled Eggheads
Published: October 14, 2008

As noted here, fellow NYT columnist Paul Krugman won the Nobel Prize for Economics and Maureen Dowd is not happy.

I’m not sending Paul Krugman Champagne.

He won the Nobel prize in economics this week, and while I’m sure that’s delightful for him, it has raised the bar to an impossible height for his fellow columnists at The Times. We used to strive for Pulitzers, or simply regional awards, or even just try to top each other on the paper’s most e-mailed list.

Now we’re supposed to compete for Nobels?
Her idea to top that and regain cock of the walk status? A Nobel of her own! But which one?
A Nobel in economics is out. I didn’t take economics in college because all the classes started at 8 a.m. Physics, chemistry and medicine are out. Literature? They’ve given up giving it to Americans. So it’s going to have to be the Nobel Peace Prize.
As a plan she settles on trying to get disgruntled conservatives to rally around Palin. Here's how it goes:

On Tuesday, Matthew Dowd (seen here in an exclusive photo kibbutzing with Maureen following a "This Week" appearance), the former Bush strategist who offered a famous apologia for helping get W. re-elected, offered a scorching assessment of Palin’s not being ready, saying that McCain “knows that in his gut. And when this race is over, that is something he will have to live with. ... He put somebody unqualified on that ballot, and he put the country at risk.”

Christopher Hitchens endorsed Barack Obama on Slate on Monday, calling Palin’s conduct “a national disgrace” and writing: “Given the nasty and lowly task of stirring up the whack-job fringe of the party’s right wing and of recycling patent falsehoods about Obama’s position on Afghanistan, she has drawn upon the only talent that she apparently possesses.”

Christopher Buckley endorsed Obama on The Daily Beast, writing of McCain’s embrace of Palin: “What on earth can he have been thinking?” (The endorsement led to Buckley’s resigning from The National Review, founded by his father.)

On “The Colbert Report” on Monday, the conservative columnist Kathleen Parker stuck by her assertion, which she said caused the base to treat her like a traitor, that Palin should have bowed out. She said she’d gotten some secret e-mails from Republicans in the White House agreeing with her.

William Kristol, a Palin fan who thinks she has been horribly managed, wrote in The Times on Monday that McCain should fire his campaign for malpractice.
I called Kristol and asked him if he thought Palin could grow into the next Reagan, reminding him that he was outnumbered by conservatives recoiling from her.

“Conservative eggheads are my friends,” he said, “but politically they’re a contrarian indicator. If they’re down on Palin, things are looking up for her. With all due respect for my fellow eggheads, they are underestimating the importance of a natural political gift or star quality. It matters a lot.”

David Brooks, speaking at an Atlantic Magazine event, called Palin “a fatal cancer to the Republican Party,” bemoaning the fact that she did not fit in with the late William Buckley’s desire to have a party that celebrated ideas and learning.
I called Brooks, who conceded: “Her political delivery skills are incredible.”

So you agree with Kristol that she might be a star in the party? Could Palin be the nominee in 2012?

“The short answer is no,” Brooks said. “She has reinforced the worst of talk-radio culture. The party will need a leader to strike out in a new direction, a fiscally conservative president more like a high-tech Teddy Roosevelt. Someone with gravitas.”
Her hopes dashed, Maureen concedes defeat.
So much for brokering a peace accord. I’ll have to leave the eggheads boiling.
Perhaps she would have better luck brokering peace with the Palestinians than the Palinistas.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Nobel Envy

Maureen Dowd's fellow Op/Ed page stablemate Paul Krugman won the Nobel Prize for Economics this year. The NYT article seems unduly restrained:

Mr. Krugman, 55, a professor at Princeton University in New Jersey and a columnist for The New York Times, formulated a new theory to answer questions about free trade, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said.
And the prize comes with serious coin, as long as you have someplace to spend ten million kronor. Sure makes Maureen's mere Pultzer look a little shabby.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Lost In Translation

Are We Rome? Tu Betchus!
Published: October 11, 2008

Running out of gimmicks, Maureen Dowd has stumbled onto a new one. Riffing on comparisons between the United States and the fall of the Roman Empire, she decides to translate her standard generic column into Lipstick-On-A-Pig-Latin. Continuing her proud tradition of out-sourcing her work whenever possible, she enlisted a real history professor, who is clearly unconcerned with his tenure hopes, to do the heavy lifting.

I enlisted Gary D. Farney, an associate professor of history at Rutgers University, to translate (loosely and creatively) from English to Latin “The Battle of Gall,” my take below on why the hyperventilating Republicans are not veni, vidi, vici-ing.
Dr. Farney teaches Ancient Greek and Roman History and according to Rate-My-Professor he is hard but fair with a strong resemblance to Radar O'Reilly.

Let's see if we can identify the distinguishing features of Dowd column even when quasi-translated to a dead language.

Punny Titles
Bellum Gallium
Her column within a column translates to "The Gallic Wars" which is the title of Julius Caesar's famous book or "The Battle of Gall" which puns on the meaning of gall as "bitterness of feeling; rancor." The column is about the bitter tactics that the Republicans are resorting to in the homestretch of the campaign. "Gall" is one of Dowd's favorite words, having called a column last year "Gift of Gall."

Alliteration Alerts™
Manes Julii Caesaris paucis diebus aderant — “O, most bloody sight!” — cum Ioannes McCainus, mavericus et veteranus captivusque Belli Francoindosinini, et Sara Palina, barracuda borealis, qui sneerare amant Baracum Obamam causa oratorii, pillorant ut demagogi veri, Africanum-Americanum senatorem Terrae Lincolni, ad Republicanas rallias.
Sentences with silly internal rhyme:
Vix quisque audivit nomen “Palinae” ante lunibus paucis. Surgivit ex suo tanning bed ad silvas in Terram Eskimorum, rogans quis sit traitorosus, ominosus, scurrilosus, periculosus amator LXs terroris criminalisque Chicagoani? Tu betchus.
Lindsay Lohan movie reference:
Vilmingtoni, in Ohionem, McCain’s Mean Girl (Ferox Puella) defendit se gladiatricem politicam esse: “Pauci dicant, O Jupiter, te negativam esse. Non, negativa non sum, sed verissima.”
Vicious personal nick-names:
Maverici, ut capiunt auxilium de friga-domina, hench-femina, Cynthia McCaina Birrabaronessa...
I'm pretty sure Maureen is calling Cindy McCain an "ice-queen henchwoman Beer Baroness." For a far better translation of the entire column, check out the Ablative Absolute blog.

Next week: Dowd expands on the Shakespearean tragedy aspect of McCain's descent into madness and gets the NYU Elizabethian Literature professor to rewrite her column in iambic pentameter.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Two Willies

Mud Pies for ‘That One’
Published: October 7, 2008

In the latest turns in the election, Maureen Dowd is seeing echoes of a previous campaign.

Some of John McCain’s friends, from the good old days when he talked straight, feared that his Greek tragedy would be that he would be defeated by George Bush twice: once in 2000, because of W.’s no-conscience campaigning, and again in 2008, because of W.’s no-brains governing.
But Dowd sees McCain as being partly to blame.
But if McCain loses, he will have contributed to his own downfall by failing to live up to his personal standard of honor.
While the Alliteration Alert® level is down to yellow, she does slip a few in, especially when discussing reptilian Republicans.
[McCain] been running a seamy campaign originally designed by the bad seed of conservative politics, Lee Atwater.

It was adapted in 2000 in Atwater’s home state of South Carolina by Atwater acolytes in W.’s camp to harpoon McCain with rumors that he had fathered out of wedlock a black baby (as opposed to adopting a Bangladeshi infant girl in wedlock).
Maureen uses a Dowdversion® based on "common" to show the inherent hypocrisy of Atwater-style attacks.
Atwater relished teaching rich, white Republicans to feign a connection to the common man so they could get in office and economically undermine the common man.

Then she draws the bigger parallel.

Willie Horton
In the 1988 campaign, the Machiavellian ran to help George Bush Sr. defeat Michael Dukakis with this unholy quintet of charges:

The Democrat was a ’60s-style liberal who would raise taxes and take away guns. He was weak and would not protect the country militarily. He was a member of the elite “Harvard Yard’s boutique.” He had a foreign-sounding name and was not on “the American side.” He was on the side of the Scary Black Man.
William Ayers
Certainly, at some level, John McCain must be disgusted with himself for using the tactics perfected by the same crowd that used these tactics to derail him in 2000. He’s now curmudgeonly, even hostile, toward the press — the group he used to spend hours with every day and jokingly describe as his base.

He unleashed Sarah Palin to slime their opponent and suggested that the Democrat with the foreign-sounding name who came from the Harvard Yard boutique is not on the American side.
Sound familiar?
And while Dowd does not use the "R-word", the racial undertones of the Wille Ayers/Rev. Wright association does not go unnoticed.
Atwater gleefully tried to paint Willie Horton as Dukakis’s running mate. With a black man running, it’s even easier for Atwater’s disciple running McCain’s campaign to warn that white Americans should not open the door to the dangerous Other, or “That One,” as McCain referred to Obama in Tuesday night’s debate. (A cross between “The One” and “That Woman.”)
Maureen may be stretching by trying create "That One" as a portmanteau between The Messiah and Monica Lewinsky, but there is a ring of truth there.

And by using Palin as the pitbull, McCain is making her do the dirty work.
The woman is sounding more Cheney than Cheney.
Maybe that’s why McCain didn’t bring up Ayers or Wright during the debate, instead leaving it to Sarah Barracuda.
Our only Movies With Maureen® moment comes from a brief queen bee aside with it's own alliterative aspects.
Asked if she thought Senator Obama was dishonest, McCain’s Mean Girl meandered:

“I’m not saying he’s dishonest, but in terms of judgment, in terms of being able to answer a question forthrightly, it has two different parts to this. The judgment and the truthfulness and just being able to answer very candidly a simple question about when did you know him, how did you know him, is there still — has there been an association continued since ’02 or ’05, I know I’ve read a couple different stories. I think it’s relevant.”

Of course she does.
And by that, Maureen means that it is both irrelevant and that Palin only says it is because that is what the slithering consultants handing the candidates mud pies told her to believe. And to aim some smears at That One.