Sunday, April 6, 2008

Vice Squad

The Vodka Chronicles
By MAUREEN DOWD
Published: April 6, 2008

Maureen Dowd gets down to analyzing all the remaining presidential candidates and the criteria she uses is who has the most repugnant personal vice. She knocks McCain for not drinking enough, given his hard driving naval aviator reputation.

In his book and last week’s bio-tour, McCain painted himself as a cool bad boy. He was a girl-loving, authority-defying, plane-crashing Top Gun.

McCain’s pals know him as a man who enjoys libations of vodka with little green cocktail olives. Over the years, at dinners with reporters, I noted he had the habit of ordering one double vodka and sipping it slowly. And there was that famous Hillary-McCain Estonian drink-off in 2004, when Hillary instigated a vodka shot contest and McCain agreed with alacrity (even though he later offered a sketchy denial).
She had mentioned the bipartisan Temple of Doom style shot drinking contest on her last Meet The Press appearance back in January. She is worried that the candidate is being whitewashed because it would cut into the use of Rude Names®:
If his campaign is bowdlerizing, let’s hope it stops before he’s a bland McNice.
If McCain seems like the stealth temperance candidate, Hillary, according to Dowd, seems to be seeping under the rug her desire to earn the Absolut endorsement. The second feature of today’s Movies With Maureen® double feature is Election.

Oddly, Hillary, a Tracy Flick Goodie Two Shoes growing up, is the only one who seems to be enjoying her vices… Her campaign doesn’t deny that she likes to kick back, at the end of a long day, with a vodka on her plane.
But it’s Obama that earns her scorn for pretending to down a drink but watering the plants instead.
Everyone may imagine that Obama and his press corps spend all their time quaffing Champagne and celebrating the astonishment of his very being. But the candidate is boringly abstemious — and reporters traveling with him find him aloof. On a 2005 trip to Russia, he priggishly requested that his vodka shot glass be filled with water.
But Obama is not entirely vice free. While his pot and coke days may be behind him, he keeps backsliding on his cancer stick habit. Worse than his addiction to the devil’s weed, he is one of those annoying inconsiderate smokers that throws his butts on your windshield.
Ever since Chicago reporters followed the up-and-coming Obama and saw him flicking his ashes and butts out the windows of moving vehicles, the senator has had a testy relationship with the press about his addictions to cigarettes and littering. (Obama, wrote one reporter on his blog, was “one of those reprehensible nicotine addicts who seems to believe that the world is his ashtray.”)
Dowd’s uncited source is David Mendell as quoted by Eric Zorn. If Hillary is serious about using every weapon against Obama, she needs to appeal to those of us that find highway butt flickers repulsive.

But when discussing vices, a special corner is saved for possible future First Lad Bill Clinton. His White House chubby chasing days may be behind him with hope for an encore dimming, but he seems to be having fun with his Billionaire’s Boys Club. She sees the Big Dog being kept on too short a leash:
Bill Clinton is a cautionary tale about what happens if you surrender too many cherished vices. Curtailed from Burkling, international jet-setting, cholesterol-chowing and race-baiting, Bill has gotten raspy and lost his legendary charm.
“Burkling” is a term coined by Dowd to describe Bill’s habit of hanging around rich guys of flexible matrimonial status like gossip column staple Ron Burkle. In July of 2007, Dowd had an imaginary Hillary warn the equally imaginary Bill:
“Speaking of roving, don’t even think about going on your Hollywood rat pack’s planes after I’m elected,” she snaps. “Strictly Air Force for you, mister, with extra federal marshals. You promised me two terms after your two terms, and I’m not going to get that if you’re caught Burkling or Binging.”
In real news (as opposed to a Dowd column), the Clintons finances are intimately entwined with Burke’s business ventures which are highly dependent on favorable legislation.

In the mean time, Dowd heaves an alliterative sigh of despair about the loss of real bad boys.
Let the Big Dog off his leash. There can be virtue in a little vice.
Since Dowd won her Pulitzer tut-tutting over Bill’s vices, perhaps she has an ulterior motive in hoping for a candidate with a few bad habits to pick on.

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