The Last Debate
By MAUREEN DOWD
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?”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:
“Don’t Sweetie me, Twiggy. You know what I want.”
Forget it, Bones.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.
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.
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?”Switched to what? Does this have something to do with the preternatural thinness?
“I switched from grass a long time ago.”
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.