Thursday, May 29, 2008

MoDo Theater Presents: Barack Vets Bill

Inspired by Grace Nearing of the always relevant Scriptoids, we have formed the MoDo Players to re-enact the various fictional dramas that go on in Maureen Dowd's columns. In the most recent column (frisked here), Barack Obama vets Bill Clinton to be his vice-presidential nominee in full defiance of the 22nd Amendment.

To see Dowd's column cleaned up into script form check out the blog The Aristocrats. Our cast for this little drama is:

Alan Ruck as Congressman Rahm Emanuel

Jeremy Irons as Harold Ickes

Tom Arnold as Ron Burkle

Olympia Dukakis as Governor Kathleen Sebelius

And starring:

Will Smith as Barack Obama


Jim Belushi as Bill "Big Dog" Clinton

And hey, if you don't think these celebrities don't look enough like the real politicians, remember that HBO got Laura Dern to look like Kitty Harris.

Look for more productions from Dowd Theater in the future.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Bubba In The Backroom

Can He Take a Frisk?
Published: May 28, 2008

In counter-point to The Last Debate, Maureen Dowd’s fevered imagination brings us the hypothetical backroom interview where Barack Obama offers the vice presidency to Clinton. Bill Clinton, that is. This hypothetical junta involves several major and minor players for both campaigns, so let’s look at the program:

After “Rahmbo” Emanuel, the Illinois congressman dubbed “the hostage negotiator” by the Obama forces, fails to talk Hillary down, Barack Obama knows that he is left with one final roll of the dice. He sets up a secret meeting with Bill Clinton in neutral territory at Rahm’s hideaway office in the Capitol.
A part of the Chicago political machine, Rham Emanuel aka "Rhambo" is Obama’s enforcer. He makes the offers that others don’t refuse. He raises the money and decides who gets it. This congressman has the rather large ear of Obama when it comes to picking running mates.

“Hey, Bill, please, stop wagging your finger at me. Call off Harold Ickes and the Hillaryland Huns. You’re right. I can’t win without her. The two of us can clean McCain’s grandfather clock.”
Ickes, part of a Democratic dynasty, is the last advisor standing in Hillary’s campaign. His close relationship (hint, hint) to labor unions has given her a power base in New York. And of course, Hillaryland Huns makes for a nice Alliteration Alert®.

“Thank goodness you’ve got Jim Johnson frisking me. He’s the guy who missed all the baggage weighing down Geraldine Ferraro’s husband.”
Jim Johnson is the former Fannie Mae head who is running Obama’s vice-presidential vetting operation. He performed the same job for Walter Mondale and John Kerry and we know how well those campaigns went. While he left Fannie Mae before the sub-prime meltdown, he did manage to cook the books good enough to a nearly two-million dollar bonus on his way out the door.

“We need to know where that $11 million came from that you guys loaned your campaign. And the $15 million from Ron Burkle at Yucaipa and the $3 million from Vinod Gupta.”
There’ll be no more Ron Air, no Burkling and Binging.
Billionaire Boys Club buddy Ron Burkle makes an encore appearance from The Vice Squad column. Both Burkle and Gupta have the habit of having jets waiting when the Clintons need a vacation in Mexico. With large donation pools at the end of the runway. Steve Bing is also a binge buddy of Bubba.

“I’ve got to level with you, man. Hillary’s a lot of work. And that Kathleen Sebelius is terrific and has those twinkly eyes.”
Kansas governor Sebelius is considered a front-runner for the real vice-presidential nomination. And being attacked by Robert Novak doesn’t hurt her bona fides any. And on a dream ticket, she adds the eye candy to balance out Barack’s appeal.

Faux-Bill gets the last word on the odds of Hillary making the Dream Team:
“The idea of Hillary as your No. 2 was always a fairy tale.”
Fairy tale being the words that Bill used to describe Obama’s free ride just a while ago. And it looks like Bill will be riding Bing Air instead of Air Force Two in the next four years.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Meet The Press: It's Poppycock

Rather than have boring guests full of talking points, this week's Meet The Press had a double-stacked panel. Maureen Dowd was one of the six guests along with David Brody, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Ruth Marcus, Jon Meacham & Gwen Ifill. Gwen seems to be filling in the black woman chair for Michele Norris who was a pre-announced guest but didn't appear.

A lot of television punditry is a little canned and if you follow a columnist you are very likely to hear lines from current or future columns. George Will is notoriously famous for recycling his on air bon mots. Maureen Dowd is no different. Here is her take on Hillary's RFK gaffe which liberally paraphrases the best paragraph form her latest column:

Well, I think her timing was excruciatingly bad. I mean, right after the anniversary of King's death, right before the anniversary of Bobby's death, right when we learn the tragic news about Teddy Kennedy, and right when she and Bill seem engaged in kind of a hostile takeover of Obama's vice presidential mansion. So, beyond that, I think it gave delegates and a lot of Democrats the creeps, because basically the only reason she is still is in the race is that something bad will happen. Of course she doesn't wish him bodily harm, but she does want--she does wish him ill in the sense that they want a big horrible story that would debilitate him to break
Russert later asks Dowd about the Clintons blaming 'misogyny' and 'gender bias' as the reason for Hillary's campaign hitting the rocks. Her "it's poppycock" line is already gaining attention in the blogosphere.
I think it's poppycock, really. I mean, Hillary Clinton has allowed women to visualize a woman as president for the first time, in the way Colin Powell allowed people to visualize an African-American. And she dominated the debates, she, she proved that a woman can have as much tenacity and gall as any man on earth. We, we can visualize her facing down Ahmadinejad. But the thing is, Hillary hurts feminism when she uses it as opportunism. And she has a history of covering up her own mistakes behind sexism. She did it with health care right after health care didn't pass. She didn't admit that she was abrasive or mismanaged it or blew off good advice or was too secretive. She said that she was a Rorschach test for gender and that many men thought of a female boss they didn't like when they looked at her. And now she's doing the same thing, and it's very--you know, in a way it's the moral equivalent of Sharptonism. It's this victimhood and angry and turning women against men and saying that the men are trying to take it away from us, in the same way she's turning Florida and Michigan and riling up and comparing them to suffragettes and slaves. And it's very damaging to feminism.
She returns to that same topic just a little bit later:
It's inexplicable, because Harold Ickes, who works for Hillary, helped write these rules, right, about the caucuses. So I, you know, the--there's--Michelle Cottle has a piece in The New Republic quoting different people anonymously inside the Clinton campaign about saying what went wrong, and one of them said that the mismanagement of money borders on fraud, because this was someone who had raised a quarter of a billion dollars and still now has had to give 20 million of her own money because of mismanagement and still didn't have a campaign in half the states she needed.
On the other side of the spectrum, John McCain had to distance himself from Reverend Hagee who saw Hitler's persecution of the Jews as a mixed blessing.
I think it's always better not to riff on Hitler. And here's a guy who thinks we're in a nice little cult called the Catholic Church, and McCain stuck with him after that. But then when he got in trouble with the Jews, that was one too many, you know, ethnic groups that McCain couldn't offend, so he dropped him. But it makes you miss the McCain who, you know, stood up against the agents of tolerance rather than pander to them.
McCain also tried to make some jokes about the rather thin resume of Barack Obama, only it didn't come off as that funny. At least not to Maureen:
I think we learn something very interesting from this exchange. For one thing, McCain really doesn't like Obama. And, you know, he thinks he's the punk who hasn't bled, as McCain people like to say, and doesn't deserve to be in this arena. And we also learn that Obama is not as intimidated by John McCain as he was by Hillary Clinton. He is much freer when he goes on the attack, much more confident. And McCain has another problem. He doesn't sound as fun and genial as he does when he's--as Reagan did when he said those lines. And also he tends to take any policy criticism as an attack on his integrity, and then attack back on the other person's integrity, and it sounds nasty.

And finally, the illness of Teddy Kennedy is starting the first round of eulogizing. And for Irish-Catholic Dowd, it's the first step towards beatification.
I think, in families like ours, working-class Irish families, we had the Kennedys' pictures mixed in with our family pictures. We grew up feeling that they were almost part of our family. And my brothers were Capitol Hill pages for JFK, Prescott Bush and Richard Nixon. And Teddy Kennedy would ask my brother Martin to play touch football with him, and he was always scared because he thought it would be like that scene in the "Wedding Crashers," part touch football, part pro-wrestling. But, I mean, they just seem like part of our family. And as Bob Schieffer said, it's like--he's like a Washington monument, you can't imagine the town without him.
The full episode can be seen below:

It's worth watching not just for Maureen Dowd, but for Ruth Marcus as well. I also noted that Jon Meacham also invoked the Kinsley Gaffe Definition. This is Dowd's second television appearance this month. Perhaps we will be seeing more of the normally reclusive redhead.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Eve Of Destruction

Funny business, a woman's career, the things you drop on the way up the ladder so you can move faster. You forget you'll need them again when you get back to being a woman.
-All About Eve

All About Eve
Published: May 25, 2008

Maureen Dowd's synopsis of the latest campaign gaffe (using the Michael Kinsley definition of a gaffe as being a politician accidentally telling the truth) goes as follows:
In an interview with The Argus Leader in Sioux Falls, Hillary disagreed that she’s hurting party unity: “My husband did not wrap up the nomination in 1992 until he won the California primary somewhere in the middle of June, right? We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California.”

She was talking about the timeline for June, not wishing physical harm upon her rival. But many Democrats were upset. Congressman James Clyburn of South Carolina called her words “beyond the pale.”
Maureen's reasonably rational explanation is that like any dedicated athlete, Hillary knows that a contest isn't over until fat lady sings. A true competitor never quits while there is still hope, even if the only hope is the opponent self-destructing.
Maybe a tired, stressed Hillary was giving an unfiltered version of a blunt conversation that she’s had with her husband and advisers about staying in the race, using R.F.K. as an anything-can-happen example, in the same way she fantasizes about Sean Hannity breaking a story that would demolish Obama.
I'm not quite sure what Mount Rushmore and Deadwood have to do with it, but the mention of this week's Movie With Maureen® (and column title), All About Eve implies that perhaps Hillary wouldn't mind giving this hypothetical Obama immolation a little push.
Maybe it was the proximity of Mount Rushmore and Deadwood, but something caused Hillary’s inner Eve Harrington to leap out in South Dakota.
And while many of Dowd's rhetorical flourishes lately have been a little over-the-top and too clever by half, she hits just the right note with this paragraph:
But coming right after the anniversary of the King assassination, right before the anniversary of the Bobby Kennedy assassination, right in the midst of the wrenching news about Teddy Kennedy’s brain tumor, and right in the middle of Billary’s hostile takeover attempt on the vice president’s mansion, the image was jarring.
The confluence with the Kennedys brings back a Dowd's magical metaphor:
Barack Obama has fused two of the most powerful narratives in American history — those of Martin Luther King Jr. and Camelot — and that makes him both magical and vulnerable.
But Hillary is waiting in the wings, the understudy that feels she should have the starring role. In those cases, Dowd suggests that it is best not letting those types of ambitious actors backstage in the first place.
Obama now has the perfect excuse not to pick Hillary as his running mate. She has been too unseemly in her desire to be on the scene if he trips, or gets hit with a devastating story. She may want to take a cue from the Miss America contest: make a graceful, magnanimous exit and wait in the wings.
By now it's nearly reflexive, but there is just a little tinge of the Royalty Metaphor® coupled with an emasculating aside in the final paragraph where Maureen compares Barack with defrocked beauty queen Vanessa Williams.
That’s where the runners-up can be found, prettily lurking, in case it turns out the girl with the crown has some naked pictures in her past.
And while an actual nude picture of Obama may do even more for his support among women than his famous Venus-from-the-sea bathing suit shot, you have to wonder what are the skeletons in the skinny guy's closest that still give Hillary hope.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Dowd Alert: MTP Primary Wrap-Up

According to Politico:

NBC’s “Meet the Press” devotes its full hour to a roundtable on the presidential race, featuring CBN’s David Brody, The New York Times’ Maureen Dowd, The Washington Post’s Ruth Marcus, Newsweek’s Jon Meacham, NPR’s Michele Norris and presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin.
Look for some discussion on when Hillary will quit and when Obama will eat.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Dowdspotting: Douglas and Dowd

The Reliable Source in the Washington Post spotted former flame of Maureen (and who isn't?) Michael Douglas noshing sans wifey Catherine Zeta Jones.

Michael Douglas lunching at the Bombay Club yesterday with former flame/New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd. Douglas, in town to lobby for global nuclear security, arrived first (gray suit with tie); chatted with two women at the next table until Dowd showed up in a red dress. The pair were an item between his divorce from Diandra Luker and marriage to Catherine Zeta-Jones in 2000.
Maybe he's doing research for a movie version of Brenda Starr. Or another Basic Instinct sequel.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Too Thin To Win

The Last Debate
Published: May 21, 2008

The day off has refreshed and energized Maureen Dowd and she has reverted to one of her favorite formats: the faux debate where she gets to put words in the mouth of both candidates. The most recent of these tour de forces was the epic drug-lingo round-up.

Today she imagines a mock debate between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama as a verbal shoot-out at the OK Corral. She starts right off with a topical reference to Sweetie-gate, Barack’s off-handed and sexist dismal of a female reporter:

“What do you want? Please, Sweetie, would you just tell me what you want?”

“Don’t Sweetie me, Twiggy. You know what I want.”
The second line is faux-Hillary’s rebuttal which is the first of several references to Barack’s skinniness and/or his eating habits and lack thereof:
Forget it, Bones.

While you’ve been fake-eating and losing weight, I’ve had to stuff myself with all that greasy working-class junk food and chase it with Boilermakers.

Back at ya, Skeletor.
Dowd columns for a couple of months now have had an odd subtext that Obama’s slender frame and dainty eating style have made him too skinny to be a serious candidate. Not too black, liberal, or inexperienced (although the faux-Clinton sock puppet touches on all of these as well), but too thin. Amateur psychoanalysts may discuss this amongst yourselves.

When Dowd pulls out the rhetorical stops, the Alliteration Alerts® just pile up everywhere. This paragraph has three sets just by itself:
I’m 60 delegates away from nomination nirvana. You should stop stalking me. I come down to Florida for a victory lap and you follow me down here and call for a recount. Look what that did for Al Gore. If you show a shred of common sense and take a powder now, the party will put you on a pedestal.
Say “party pedestal powder” three times fast. I dare you. But her greatest assonance achievement is this particular phrase:
“Bill and I don’t need your Netroots arugula moolah. We don’t need your stinking $20 donors. We’ve got Burkle, the Saudis, the Kuwaitis and Kazakh uranium loot on tap.”
Just by itself, "netroots arugula moolah" would be a classic since in three words it touches on both Obama's internet ultra-liberal support base and his upper-class effete lack of he common touch. But the very next line changes targets and serves not only as poetry, but as a precise and concise summary of Clinton fund-raising scandals to come.

There are just so many tossed-off gems here, they are tough to catalog. We get the drug reference throwback:
“Wow, you’re so-o-o generous. Can I also write the plank on switchgrass?”

“I switched from grass a long time ago.”
Switched to what? Does this have something to do with the preternatural thinness?

Then there’s the memory of the Breck Girl who gets a new RudeName®:
And if you think your Secretary of Hairdressing, John Edwards, is going to help, you’re more delusional than I am.
And the racial allusions are thick and heavy as well. We get a great new phrase aimed at redneck voters who say to exit pollers that race IS a factor as well as Hillary's not always subliminal appeals to them:
So cool it with the White Fright.
And we have a great Dowdversion® that invokes the “Barack is a crypto-Muslim” rumors:
You can bet your white turban that I’m not raising the white flag.
The entire column is a laundry list of obscure scandals and campaign kerfuffles that make a Dennis Miller monologue look straight forward. Here is a Kentucky Primary/Derby reference that flows right into a dead race horse metaphor for the Clinton campaign:
I’ve never been a loser. I refuse to lose. I won the West Virginia and Kentucky derbies, and I’m not going to end up like Eight Belles.
But that is followed with a line for FauxBama that could be as sincere a statement as Maureen will ever say to Hillary directly or indirectly:
“Hillary, you’ve been a great candidate, better than your train-wreck campaign. You’re Churchillian in your indomitable tenacity. You’ve inspired women all over the country. In fact, you’ve inspired some of them to hate me. But now it’s time for you to try to muster a gracious exit.”
It’s the sign of a master satirist that she can hide the greatest truths in plain sight.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Gone Bowling

Maureen Dowd is off today. Some might argue that she is a little off everyday. We presume she is out brushing up on her 7-10 split for the inevitable White House Press Correspondents' Bowling Tournament.

Today's photoshop comes from DailyKos diarist assyrian64 who has mad skilz (note the shadow on the wall) and was obviously inspired by her April 16 column and this soon to be immortal confession from Maureen:

My bowling trophy was one of my most cherished possessions.
With cred like that, perhaps she should run for president.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

BlogWatch: Barry's Raspberry Beret

This original photoshop was inspired by Molly Ivors at Whiskey Fire who seemed to be the only other person in the blogosphere that got Maureen Dowd's call-out to a certain sexually ambiguous popstar:

As regulars know, I've been cataloguing Maureen Dowd's descent into madness in recent weeks, watching her flail wildly from Hillary as Blanche DuBois to Hillary as Mildred Pierce, and the parallel narrative of Barack Obama as a feminized, effete Democratic male.

But it took me a day or so to spot this in her most recent headline: "Raspberry for Barry."

So now he's the most effete black man of all.
And hidden even deeper in the Raspberry Barry column is this variation on the ever-popular royalty metaphor that Dowd is so fond of:
The lady-in-waiting would be surrounded by Obama disciples who disdained her for fighting dirty. And she would be miserable holding up the train of the young prince who usurped her dream, derailing the post-nup she had with Bill to trade places.
And who better to represent Barack than Prince, since purple IS the color of royalty.

BlogWatch: New York State Of Mind

After a long dry spell, the more vociferous DowdHaters® in the blogosphere have turned their attention back to the redheaded one. Molly Ivors of Whiskey Fire feels that Dowd is too safely esconed in The Establishment to speak for the great unwashed:

Of all Maureen's poses, the ones where she attempts to capture The Spirit of the Heartland© are perhaps the most annoying. Face it, Maureen: you're a Feng Shui-living Manhattanite with 100 pairs of shoes and the best dye job your inexplicably large paycheck can buy, which is to say: still a dye job. You have no secret window into the souls of West Virginians to determine why they vote as they do, and should not pretend to.
Molly does get one little fact in her diatribe wrong: Maureen is a Feng Shui-living Georgetowner, raised and educated in the District of Columbia. And I have no idea how many shoes she has. If she's like any woman, it's too many but I'm not sure how that affects her judgment adversely.

Digby of Hullabaloo is even more indignant:

"Bitter Hillary," "Fast Barry," "diffident debutante" --- this is what the Village dinner parties are tittering about these days. The old hag, the new fag, the same old shit.

And by Village, I assume he means Greenwich Village as if Maureen is some trust-funded hipster. While Maureen is part of the media elite, it seems everybody expects her to be living in New York. Digby goes on:
Dowd always says she's speaking truth to power. Not so. She speaks truthiness to power and doesn't even know the difference.
I guess if it fits your argument, it's better to put Dowd at Village dinner parties in Manhattan to make your point. That adds to the truthiness of the outrage.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Eight Ball Barry

Eight ball: A quantity of cocaine or crystal that weighs an eighth of an ounce, hence an "eight ball", which is equivalent to 3.5 grams. –Urban Dictionary

Raspberry for Barry
Published: May 14, 2008

As the Clinton campaign runs out of steam, so does Maureen Dowd’s ability to come up with alliterative Rude Names®:
Obama is acting the diffident debutante, pretending not to care that he was given a raspberry by a state he will need in the fall.
We first saw “Diffident Debutante” back on February 3rd when Hillary was still the Debate Dominatrix. And tell me she didn’t just make a raspberry/Barry Obama pun? Please. Or is it a Prince "Raspberry Beret" shout-out? I'm not sure which would be worse.

And speaking of not believing my eyes, is “eight ball” a drug crack (so to speak) or is Maureen just that clueless about coke lingo:
Fast Barry shot some pool Monday afternoon at Schultzie’s Billiards in South Charleston, including prophetically sinking an eight-ball in the pocket…
I think not. After all, she managed to fit twenty drug slang terms into this column.

The cleverest line in the column was this one about Hillary exploiting class antagonism:
Mining that antipathy, the New York senator has been working hard to get the hard-working white voters of hardscrabble Appalachia so she can show that a black man can’t yet be elected president.
And that vein of antipathy (see, antipathy sounds like anthracite, which is a type of coal, get it?) includes some not so subtle racism which Maureen is glad to chronicle:
Two in 10 white voters said race was important in how they voted, and more than 8 of 10 of these went for Hillary. This echoes an article in The Washington Post on Tuesday that chronicled the racism that some Obama volunteers found in Indiana and Pennsylvania.

The story quoted Victoria Switzer, a retired social studies teacher, who could take only one night on an Obama phone bank in the nearly all-white Susquehanna County, Pa.: “One caller, Switzer remembers, said he couldn’t possibly vote for Obama and concluded: ‘Hang that darky from a tree!’ ”

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution wrote about complaints of racism after a bar in Marietta, Ga., began selling an Obama 2008 T-shirt with a picture of Curious George peeling a banana.
(Click here for a Boston Herald story with a picture of said shirt if you are that curious.)

Dowd first spotted the “won’t vote for a well-educated charismatic black guy” trend in her Pennsylvania wrap-up, but as Obama becomes the nominee apparent expect the race-baiting to become more explicit. If we can elect a Catholic president, we can elect a Black president, even if he can’t carry West Virginia. And the mention of JFK is just enough to send Maureen to mutter nostalgically into her Bumillers for the rest of the column:
J.F.K. bought affection in West Virginia. “The boss of Logan County said 35,” Peters recalled. “He meant $3,500, but Kennedy thought it was $35,000, so he gave him $35,000. They put out all this money and they carried the precincts.” (Hillary has been using street money more than Obama, though it is unclear how much it has helped.)
And really, that is enough of that. Once we start eulogizing dead Democratic presidents it’s time for last call.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Hillary The Killer Rabbit

That's the most foul, cruel, and bad-tempered rodent
you ever set eyes on!

-Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Is She a Trojan Rabbit?
Published: May 11, 2008

As the entire world, including lagging indicator the Time magazine, declares Barack Obama the de facto Democratic candidate, Maureen Dowd moves on to the next phase: picking a running mate. One possibility would be Hillary Clinton. The thought of that makes Maureen rabid.
So how does Obama repay Hillary for running a campaign designed both to unman him and brand him as an unelectable black? Is the most ingenious way to turn the screw by not choosing her as his running mate, or by choosing her?
Dowd wonders if Hillary wants to be thrown in that briarpatch.

But in a return engagement with Obama at the top, could she really wake up every day in the back seat and wish him well, or would she just be plotting? (Fourteen vice presidents have ascended, after all.) Wouldn’t she be, in Monty Python parlance, the Trojan Rabbit behind the gates?
The flaw in the Trojan Rabbit plan was that the Knights of the Roundtable forgot to hide in the rabbit.
BEDEVERE: Well, now, uh, Launcelot, Galahad, and I, uh, wait until nightfall, and then leap out of the rabbit, taking the French, uh, by surprise. Not only by surprise, but totally unarmed!
Monty Python also features the killer rabbit that is a cute little bunny with a ferocious temper.
Hillary has a strange, unnerving effect on Obama, and whenever he is around her, he’s unable to do his best. Probably, it’s because she’s furious, always shaking his hand off her arm, ignoring him, giving him the evil eye and emasculating him, and the Golden One is not used to such rough treatment.
Barack is still the Golden One, which is a promotion from Golden Child. Earlier in the column, Dowd had made a veiled Basic Instinct call-out:
After 15 months of fighting her off, as she veered wildly from bully to victim, as she brandished any ice pick at hand, whether racial, sexual, mathematical or marital (in the form of her Vesuvian husband), Obama must decide the most efficacious means of doing to Hillary what she has been trying to do to him: putting her in her place.
Proving once again that there is no political situation that can’t be compared to an old movie, today’s feature Movies With Maureen® is Pat and Mike.

It’s a similar syndrome to the one Katharine Hepburn’s star athlete and her supercilious fiancé have in “Pat and Mike.”

The fiancé is always belittling Hepburn, so whenever he’s in the stands, her tennis and golf go kerflooey. Finally, her manager, played by Spencer Tracy, asks the fiancé to stay away from big matches, explaining, “You are the wrong jockey for this chick.”

“You know, except when you’re around, we got a very valuable piece of property here,” he says, later adding, “When you’re around, she’s no good, she’s dead, see?”
Dowd is saying that Hillary would knock Obama off his game.
The best way Obama can punish Hillary is to reward himself. He’s no good around her, see?
The best advice for Obama would be to meet any overtures from the Clinton campaign with the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch. Then, count to three. No more. No less.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The Scorpion's Nature

"But some things are not forgivable. Deliberate cruelty is not forgivable! It is the one unforgivable thing, in my opinion, and the one thing of which I have never, never been guilty."

"I don't want realism. I want magic! Yes, yes, magic. I try to give that to people. I do misrepresent things. I don't tell truths. I tell what ought to be truth."

-Blanche DuBois, A Streetcar Named Desire

Butterflies Aren’t Free
Published: May 7, 2008

I’d been worried about Maureen Dowd. The stress of the campaign seems to have interrupted her Movies With Maureen® marathon, but returning to form, we have Vivien Leigh night. Maureen compares Hillary to Vivien Leigh with her tenacity to do anything to get a role.
In his memoir, the legendary Elia Kazan wrote about directing Vivien Leigh in “A Streetcar Named Desire.” While he did not think that Leigh was a great natural actress, he was impressed that she would crawl through glass to get the role right.

Hillary Clinton may not be a great natural politician, but traveling across the country on her own Bus Named Desire, she has crawled through glass to get the role right.
But Blanche DuBois from A Steetcar Named Desire just doesn’t seem Clintonesque enough to Dowd, so she goes back to the Vivien Leigh costume drama she has used on more than one occasion, Gone With The Wind:
Hillary is less Blanche than Scarlett. “Heaven help the Yankees if they capture you,” Rhett told the willful belle at the start of her rugged odyssey.

And heaven help the Democrats as they try to shake off Hillary. On top of her inane vows to obliterate Iran, OPEC and the summer gas tax, she plans “a nuclear option” during her Shermanesque march to Denver.
And just to prove that she can, Maureen comes up with yet another baffling metaphor. While the column title evokes the Goldie Hawn romantic comedy, Butterflies Are Free, the real source for the column title is this inane comparison:
The Democratic race has been a scorpion and a butterfly in a bottle. Hillary tore Barry’s wings off, and so psyched him out with her silly goading — “Enough about the speeches and the big rallies!” she cried — that he gave up his magical trump cards.
The more famous tale of a scorpion is about the frog and a scorpion crossing a river (as told here by Luis Aguilar Leon):
A scorpion asks a frog for help crossing a river. Intimidated by the scorpion's prominent stinger, the frog demurs.

``Don't be scared,'' the scorpion says. ``If something happens to you, I'll drown.''

Moved by this logic, the frog puts the scorpion on his back and wades into the river.

Half way across, the scorpion stings the frog.

The dying frog croaks, ``How could you -- you know that you'll drown?''

``It's my nature,'' gasps the sinking scorpion.
In this better example, Clinton is the scorpion that will sting Obama and force them both to drown just because that is what she does.

The more familiar Dowd themes get touched on just to keep them current. We have a reference to Obama refusing food:
Even though people at diners kept trying to fatten up Obama — he drew the line at gravy — he looked increasingly diaphanous, like anti-matter to Hillary’s matter.
Which also included the Crossword Clue Or The Week® for 'diaphanous' which is evocative of butterflies and gauzy flightiness. While not completely efeminizing Barack, it will do.

Maureen Dowd is no darling of Media Matters, the left wing Truth Squad and enforcer of political correctness. They have been on her for daring to call Clinton a vampire (here’s my take on that column and a typically rabid Media Matters over-reaction). She seems to be daring them to come after her for quoting an Indiana voter that thinks Barack is Muslim.
In a restaurant in Greenwood on Tuesday, Obama approached an older white guy who waved him off, muttering afterwards to a reporter: “I can’t stand him. He’s a Muslim. He’s not even pro-American as far as I’m concerned.”
Dowd does nothing to dispel the obvious misimpression this voter has. And really that sort of mistake is beyond correction. It is a Big Lie spread among rabid right-wingers that has taken hold in the zeitgeist. I’m just waiting for the accusations that Dowd is a foot soldier and dupe for the McCain campaign for observing that the meme is out there. Hand-wringing liberal outrage in four, three, two, wait for it…

Knocking Dowd for pointing out the weaknesses of Democratic candidates is a fool's game. It's her nature to do so, no matter who ends up drowning. Just like the scorpion.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Dowd Defends The Funny

The Harvard Review printed an interview with Maureen Dowd that presumably took place when she was in Cambridge giving a speech back in October. I've heard of long lead times, but really. In it she professes her well documented love for Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert:

Well, I watch the Colbert Report and the Daily Show more than I watch the nightly news. And I really think the alarm about that is silly, because I think if you watch Colbert and Stewart, you learn a lot.
Plus you can talk them into writing columns for you. She thinks humor has a place in political discourse.
When I first started my columns, Michael Kinsley and Bill Safire said to me, “You have to stop doing humor columns because you’ll be seen as too girly.” And I said I would never take humor out of politics. I think it’s a fantastic way to tell the truth, but to take a fresh angle that can lure people in and tell them something true. And I grew up loving Johnathan Swift and Evelyn Wong, and I think we can use humor and satire to get at the truth and a larger and different audience.
And by "Evelyn Wong", she (or the under-educated transcriber) means Bennett Cerf.

But I'm not expecting her to drop into the comments section of this blog anytime soon. While recent columns display a dazzling skill with Google and YouTube, she professes to be technologically ignorant.
I’m not very technological. Someone gave me an iPod a year ago but I’ve only just learned how to turn it on. And I don’t blog or anything but I think journalism is about the story or the narrative.
But she doesn't dismiss the power of blogs:
It doesn’t matter to me what the delivery system is. The more, the better, the more populist, the better, the more people engaged, the better, but in the end, it’s about the story and about human nature.
And who should now more about human nature than her.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Beer With Obama

George Stubbs. Horse Attacked by a Lion. From Olga's Gallery.

This Bud’s for You

Published: May 4, 2008

In her amazingly clever scheme to beto expense all her bar bills, Maureen Dowd still on her Vice City tour of the Democratic primary has tracked Obama to a VFW hall straight out of an episode of The Honeymooner’s or All In The Family depending on your age and reference point.
Bleeding white voters in North Carolina and Indiana, the Illinois senator headed Thursday evening to V.F.W. Post 1954 in North Liberty, Ind., consisting of a bar, a pool table, a Coors Light clock and a couple of dozen curious white guys.

Checking out what the vets were drinking, he announced, “I’m going to have a Bud.” Then, showing he’s a smart guy who can learn and assimilate, he took big swigs from his beer can, a marked improvement on the delicate sip he took at a brewery in Bethlehem, Pa.
As the campaign reaches the Groundhog’s Day state of déjà vu with it’s endless cycle of predicting, exit-polling, and pontificating, Dowd herself is getting trapped in a self-referential loop of repeated motifs. “Assimilate” was used in the Wright Rampage earlier this week and “delicate” refers back to one of the more feminizing lines Dowd scripted back on January 30:
But Obama is the more emotionally delicate candidate, and the one who has the more feminine consensus management style, and the not-blinded-by-testosterone ability to object to a phony war.
Which fits in well with Maureen’s perception of the Clinton Stategy Du Jour:
Proclaiming that the upcoming elections in Indiana and North Carolina would be “a game changer,” Hillary and her posse pressed hard on their noble twin themes of emasculation and elitism.
It seems that Hillary’s Obama Bashers are late to the party, but what they lack in delicacy they are making up in gusto. Dowd hunts down three examples to make her point:
Cherry-bombing the word “pansy” into the discourse, Gov. Mike Easley of North Carolina said Hillary made “Rocky Balboa look like a pansy.”

Paul Gipson, president of a steelworkers local in Portage, Ind., hailed her “testicular fortitude,” before ripping into “Gucci-wearing, latte-drinking, self-centered, egotistical people that have damaged our lifestyle.”

James Carville helpfully told Eleanor Clift of Newsweek that if Hillary gave Obama one of her vehicles of testicular fortitude, “they’d both have two.”
I think Dowd is just jealous with admiration. This long slogging campaign has nearly run her dry of metaphors and she is resorting to obscure pieces of artwork:
The lioness of Chappaqua is hot on the trail of the Chicago gazelle, eager to gnaw him to pieces, like a harrowing scene out of a George Stubbs painting.
While Lioness of Cappaqua and The Chicago Gazelle would make good Rude Names®, they lack a certain panache. And the lion in the Stubbs painting is really attacking a horse, but Dowd changes that to a gazelle because gazelle are skinny and hop around too much and look like Bambi. And while this passage may seem a little phoned in, she then writes what may be her most brilliant paragraph ever:
Then came the Big Dog, crazy like a fox, for the coup de graceless. Campaigning in Clarksburg, W. Va., he said that his scrappy wife can win working-class voters, as compared with Obama’s Viognier-and-Volvo set.
I called Maureen’s April 23rd outing The Perfect Column, but this is the Perfect Paragraph. For starters, we have not one, but three, Alliteration Alerts®. And Viogner-and-Volvo deserves special attention. I had to go to Wikipedia to discover how pitch perfect the word was:
Viognier is a white wine grape. It is the only permitted grape for the French wine Condrieu in the Rhone valley.
In addition to it’s allusion to pretentious effete wine-swilling liberals, there is something magical about the Big Dog/Crazy Fox/coup de graceless run that is poetry. And when Maureen gets on a roll, she just can’t help recalling Big Bill’s decade old indiscretion, apropos of nothing:
Oh, well, at least Bill didn’t use the word uppity. And don’t you love this paean to rules coming from a man so tethered and humbled by rules that he invented an entirely new sexual etiquette to suit his needs in the Oval Office?
She doesn’t stop at Bill, she lays into Hillary as well (no surprise there) and even her beloved Poppy Bush.
In reality, as first lady, Hillary was renowned for her upstairs-downstairs tussles in the White House, and her high-handed treatment of the little people in the travel office, on the switchboard and on the residence staff.
Yet George H. W. Bush’s attempts to paint over his patrician style with a cowboy veneer was a silly sort of masquerade, obviously engineered by Lee Atwater, who brought the props of pork rinds and country music.
All of this is in service of some theme that Obama should be allowed to be his high-brow self and not have to pander to all the hicks and yokels that actually vote. She even reruns previous Crossword Clue Of The Week® “ensorcel” to get her point across:
Obama, on the other hand, may seem esoteric, and sometimes looks haughty or put-upon when he should merely offer that ensorcelling smile.
That smile is definitely ensorcelling Maureen as she positively drools over the tux-clad handsome politico with the movie star looks. I couldn't find any GoogleImages of Obama in a tuxedo, so I think that is a figment of Maureen's fevered imagination:
It must be hard for Obama, having applied all his energy over the years to rising above the rough spots in his background, making whites comfortable with him, striving to become the sophisticated, silky political star who looks supremely comfortable in a tux. Now he must go into reverse and stoop to conquer with cornball photo ops.
There are plenty of pictures of the Hawaiian-born, Chicago-raised candidate in a cowboy hat, so the corny photo-op part rings true. But that is not the real him, whoever that is.
It’s hard not to be who you are, but it’s doubly hard to be who you’ve strived not to be. Obama not only has to figure out how to unwind with a Bud. He has to rewind his life.
I think Maureen has hit upon a new campaign theme that Obama needs to roll out:

To Good To Have To Campaign.