Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Daisy Does Des Moines

Deign or Reign?
Published: January 2, 2008

They were careless people, Tom and Daisy — they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made…
-The Great Gatsby
In the final day before the Iowa caucuses, Maureen Dowd fires a final salvo against the Big Dog and Daisy:
She is speaking in a soft, measured voice in these final days, so that, as with Daisy Buchanan, you have to lean in to listen. But is she really different than she was in the years when she was so careless about the people around her getting hurt by the Clinton legal whirlwind that she was dubbed the Daisy Buchanan of the boomer set?
The Daisy dubbing was done by Joe Klein, then of Newsweek, back in 1995 surveying the damage done by Clintons quelling bimbo eruptions. The Jazz Age metaphor took root and has been used by Gail Sheehy and Bob Woodward, and of course the Dowdster herself. Back in 1996, she dedicated an entire column called Gulp Fiction to the arc of the Clintons-Klein relationship.

In the most explicit terms possible, Dowd reiterates her long held thesis concerning the Clinton candidacy:
The underlying rationale for her campaign is that she is owed. Owed for moving to Arkansas and giving up the name Rodham, owed for pretending to care about place settings and menus when she held the unappetizing title of first lady, owed for enduring one humiliation after another at the hands of her husband.
In the interest of equal time and to add a veneer of reporting justifying hotel nights in Iowa for an Ames byline, she quotes a potential caucuser that switched from Obama to Edwards.
Across town, Nancy Hibbs, a 57-year-old nurse, came to listen to John Edwards give his son-of-a-mill-worker rant against corporate greed, complete with a sneer aimed at Obama that anyone who thinks you can “just nice” the carnivorous Republican fat cats into submission is in “Never-Never Land.”

Ms. Hibbs had decided after seeing Barack Obama a year ago that she would vote for him. She saw him again Monday night in Ames and felt even more certain that he was the one. After listening to Edwards for 40 minutes on Tuesday, she up and changed her mind, deciding to vote for him.
That is the first time Dowd has spent as much as a full sentence on John Edwards since early July. But she prefers to focus on the other two lawyer couples in the race.
The presidential anglers here are dancing on the head of a pin. The Democratic race — three lawyers married to lawyers who talk too much — is very tight and very volatile. Even the jittery pack of seasoned political operatives gazing into their BlackBerrys doesn’t seem to have a clue which way the Iowa snowdrifts are blowing.
Maureen is off her game. The angels/anglers dancing on the head of a pin is just baffling and you don’t need a Weatherman to know which way the snowdrifts blow. She does valiantly stretch the dancing anglers line to shoehorn in one pop cultural call-out:
But Bill very much wants to be in the White House again. He is going around the state relentlessly, giving a speech as tightly choreographed with Hillary’s as a “Dancing With the Stars” routine.
But the focus is on the Hillary/Obama showdown. Dowd mixes a royal metaphor to emphasize the sense of entitlement:
If elected, would the old Hillary pop up, dragging us back to the dysfunctional Clinton kingdom?
And if Hillary is Guinevere to Bill’s Lancelot, Michelle Obama is Lady MacBeth keeping Barrack’s courage screwed to its sticking place.
Oddly, Barack and Michelle Obama also radiate a sense that they are owed. Not for a lifetime of sublimation and humiliation, but for this onerous campaign, for offering themselves up to save and uplift the nation, even though it disrupted their comfortable lives.
She told a group gathered at a nursing home in Grinnell on Monday that “Barack is one of the smartest people you will ever encounter who will deign to enter this messy thing called politics.”

So it comes down to this: Will Queen Hillary reign? Will Prince Barack deign? And who is owed more?
Might I suggest a Dancing with Lawyers dance-off between the Big Dog and Lady Michelle?

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