Sunday, August 3, 2008

The Price of Pride


Mr. Darcy Comes Courting
By MAUREEN DOWD
Published: August 3, 2008

Maureen Dowd opens todays column with a paraphrased parody of the premiere paragraph from Pride and Prejudice:

It is a truth universally acknowledged that Barack Obama must continue to grovel to Hillary Clinton’s dead-enders, some of whom mutter darkly that they will not only not vote for him, they will never vote for a man again.
Not only is Jane Austen's classic the Movies With Maureen® pick this week, it is the central metaphor of the column. But first we have to fit in Maureen's favorite "B" words (which when discussing Clintonistas is not the b-word you would expect).
Obama met for an hour Tuesday with three dozen top Hillaryites at a hotel here, seeking their endorsement and beguiling their begrudging.
We last saw "beguiling" back when Michelle was fist bumping and before that when he was wearing a raspberry beret. "Begrudging" got a mention just recently (along with fellow b-word bedazzling), but it first showed up back in February when Obama first became threat to Hillary's coronation. And speaking of b-words, Hillary supporters were carrying McCain's water when a foul-mouthed rapper expressed his support for Barack a little too colorfully.
Before the Obama campaign even had a chance to denounce Ludacris, one of the rappers on the senator’s iPod, Hillary Inc. started to mobilize. Susie Tompkins Buell, a former Clinton bundler, told The New York Observer that Obama had to distance himself, given Ludacris’s new song rooting for Obama to “paint the White House black” and calling Hillary the b-word.
And with the bees behind us, we get a rare Triple Alliteration Alert®:
Despite Obama’s wooing, some women aren’t warming. As Carol Marin wrote in The Chicago Sun-Times, The Lanky One is like an Alice Waters organic chicken — “sleek, elegant, beautifully prepared. Too cool” — when what many working-class women are craving is mac and cheese.
Which also leads us into the food-obsessed portion of the column. Not only is Obama now not just The One (a McCainism that the GOP is trying to pin on Dowd), but he is The Lanky One, which makes Hillary the Chubby Pantsuited One.
In The Wall Street Journal, Amy Chozick wrote that Hillary supporters — who loved their heroine’s admission that she was on Weight Watchers — were put off by Obama’s svelte, zero-body-fat figure.

“He needs to put some meat on his bones,” said Diana Koenig, a 42-year-old Texas housewife. Another Clinton voter sniffed on a Yahoo message board: “I won’t vote for any beanpole guy.”
So to summarize, Hillary's PUMA hold-outs are bitter AND overweight. But we came for some silly movie analogies, and here they come:
The odd thing is that Obama bears a distinct resemblance to the most cherished hero in chick-lit history. The senator is a modern incarnation of the clever, haughty, reserved and fastidious Mr. Darcy.
Clever, haughty, reserved, and fastidious sounds like the law firm that will sue Dowd for defamation of character if Obama loses. But she makes her case by copiously quoting the ur-text of chick-lit.
Like the leading man of Jane Austen and Bridget Jones, Obama can, as Austen wrote, draw “the attention of the room by his fine, tall person, handsome features, noble mien. ...he was looked at with great admiration for about half the evening, till his manners gave a disgust which turned the tide of his popularity; for he was discovered to be proud, to be above his company, and above being pleased.”

The master of Pemberley “had yet to learn to be laught at,” and this sometimes caused “a deeper shade of hauteur” to “overspread his features.”
And she covers haughty with the infamous primary debate put-down.
The New Hampshire debate incident in which Obama condescendingly said, “You’re likable enough, Hillary,” was reminiscent of that early scene in “Pride and Prejudice” when Darcy coldly refuses to dance with Elizabeth Bennet, noting, “She is tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me.”
And it's not enough to note that Obama is a manor-borne elitist, the American public seems to be having a hard time warming up to him.
If Obama is Mr. Darcy, with “his pride, his abominable pride,” then America is Elizabeth Bennet, spirited, playful, democratic, financially strained, and caught up in certain prejudices.
And Dowd's definition of "prejudice" is far more precise than it was in the Regency era.
In this political version of “Pride and Prejudice,” the prejudice is racial, with only 31 percent of white voters telling The New York Times in a survey that they had a favorable opinion of Obama, compared with 83 percent of blacks.
For the column conclusion, Maureen goes all rhetorical question including this rare interlaced Alliteration Alert®:
So the novelistic tension of the 2008 race is this: Can Obama overcome his pride and Hyde Park hauteur and win America over?
What any fan of the romance genre can tell you is that the heroine never realizes that she truly loves the guy she has been diffident to for two hundred pages until the very last chapter. Only then do they commit to each other. Let's see what page of this drama Election Day falls on.

4 comments:

jaraish said...

Does this mean that Michelle is Miss Bingley? And who is Lydia Bennet?

Robert said...

How about "The Prince of Pride" as an alternate title? I think that would work too...

Wilbrod The Gnome said...

This is just a really weird comparsion, and well-done for pointing it out. Not everything should be compared to chick lit.

Let's not forget that Elizabeth Bennet began to fall in love with Mr. Darcy after seeing how loaded he really was. That and how he bailed her family out financially.

Hmm, didn't I hear something about campaign debts a while ago?

Some hearts are far more practical in their affections than their owners would ever admit.

Grace Nearing said...

So the novelistic tension of the 2008 race is this: Can Obama overcome his pride and Hyde Park hauteur and win America over?

Is there a name for this pyschiatric condition in which every major person and element in contemporary American politics gets wrenched into a clumsy literary or cinematic analogy for no other purpose than the obsessive need to wrench reality into nonreality?

Let's call it folie a Dowd.