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
By MAUREEN DOWD
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.

1 comment:

Grace Nearing said...

She seems to be daring them [Media Matters] to come after her for quoting an Indiana voter that thinks Barack is Muslim....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....

(1)If MoDo is taunting Media Matters with the Barack=Muslim canard, then she is being extremely foolish. It's her reputation she's risking, not Media Matters.

(2) MoDo's use, without correction or explanation, of a Direct Quote of the Misinformed once again makes me wonder about editorial and fact-checking guidelines for op/ed writers.

And it's not just MoDo and it's not just the NYT. A few weeks ago Richard Cohen screwed up big time in a WaPo column. The central thesis of his column hinged on a Senate vote. Cohen alleged that Obama had voted "no" and Hillary had voted "yes." Oopsie! Cohen was flat out wrong: both candidates had voted "yes." Now, this is Fact-Checking 101 -- and neither the op/ed writers nor their newspapers seem to bother.

I've always said: If I want sloppy thinking and wrong facts, I'll listen to my relatives' political analysis.