Sunday, April 27, 2008

High School Bites

Desperately Seeking Street Cred
By MAUREEN DOWD
Published: April 27, 2008

Maureen Dowd is frequently accused of treating politics like high school. But she is even more in tune with the teen set than we realized. She is up on all the reading trends:

Maybe I’ve been reading too many stories about the fad of teenage vampire chick lit, worlds filled with parasitic aliens and demi-human creatures, but there’s something eerie going on in this race.

Hillary grows more and more glowy as Obama grows more and more wan.

Is she draining him of his precious bodily fluids? Leeching his magic? Siphoning off his aura?
While it would seem that teenage vampire chick lit would be a rather narrow niche, it’s a real one and full of title like Dangerous Girls, Midnight Predator, and Uninvited, all of which would make great campaign bio titles.

In Maureen Dowd’s high school, Obama is the fashion conscious Gossip Girl that smokes too much and eats too little.
He looks like he wants to run away somewhere for three months by himself and smoke.

Hillary is not getting much sleep or exercise, and doesn’t, like the ascetic Obama, abstain from junk food and coffee and get up at dawn to work out on the road.
Barack will continue to be tagged with the label of the kid who doesn’t clean his plate despite his protests:
He dutifully enthused about carbs, assuring reporters that when he had dinner as a child with his Kansas grandparents, the food “would have been very familiar to anybody here in Indiana. A lot of pot roast, potatoes and Jell-O molds.”
It doesn’t play very plausible. On the other hand, Hillary has no qualms about eating on the road:
The Nixonian Hillary has a ravenous hunger that Obama lacks. Literally — at a birthday party in Philly for her photographer, she was devouring the chips and dip with two hands — and viscerally.
“Ravenous”, “devouring” and “viscerally” would all be great words for a teenage vampire chick lit book. And the invocation of an undead Republican is not an isolated incident. Dowd also name checks another blood-sucking ghoul from the GOP:
Even some Obama fans find Hillary’s toughness and shameless shape-shifting compelling. Having lost the White House twice to brass-knuckled pols, the Dems may be drawn to a woman who thinks like Karl Rove.
But Obama is not without his mystical charms. He is also the sports star who is magic on the court, if not in the lanes.
He tried to recapture the magic — and erase the bowling debacle — by shooting hoops with kids in Kokomo on Friday night.
We have a nice underplayed Alliteration Alert® with "kids in Kokomo" and we milk the sports metaphor for one more paragraph:
As a basketball player, he should know he’s in overtime in his race with Hillary — and overtime is not the period to indulge in whining.
Which leads us to a new feature (h/t to Grace Nearing), the Crossword Puzzle Clue Of The Week®:
But then he resumed wry whingeing about his 37 bowling score, explaining that he finished only seven frames, including two that “were bowled by a 10-year-old” and another by a 3-year-old.
From American Heritage Dictionary Online:
Whinge: Chiefly British To complain or protest, especially in an annoying or persistent manner.
Once again, Dowd searches through her thesaurus to find just the perfect word and nails it. “Annoying” and “persistent” complaining hits just the right note. And Obama’s defense of his bowling skilz would be more plausible if there weren’t Dukakis-riding-a-tank quality video of the event.

The endings of recent Dowd columns have been a little soft because so much in this campaign is still unsettled. She does finally tie the search for street cred into the Madonna-tinged titular Movies With Maureen®. Here she sums up ambiguously:
“I don’t want to go out of my way to sort of prove my street cred as a down-to-earth guy,” he said, after going out of his way. “People know me.”

Not yet, but we will, one of these years.
Is Dowd predicting plenty of Barack for the next four years or is she saying it will take that long to find the true colors of this street-wise Harvard lawyer? Whatever the answer, we will have Maureen on hand to keep a handle on the state of his life forces and aura (and let's not even touch precious bodily fluids). And to keep us update on supernatural chick lit trends.

1 comment:

Grace Nearing said...

Thanks for the hat tip. You will do far more with the concept than I ever could, that's for sure!

Funny thing: Dowd's columns almost always irritate me, but reading your deconstructions of Dowd's columns is always enjoyable.