Bering Straight Talk
By MAUREEN DOWD
Published: September 13, 2008
Maureen Dowd has decamped to Alaska, leaving her Georgetown townhouse for Seward’s Icebox. And she must be staying at a Holiday Inn Express, because she feels so much smarter already.
I’ve been in Alaska only a week, but I’m already feeling ever so much smarter about Russia.To show off her improved intelligence, she rushes right into a Dowdversion™, contrasting brain cramps with Palin’s tough talk about Georgia.
I can’t quite see it from my hotel window, but, hey, I know it’s out there somewhere, beyond all the stuffed bears and cruise ships and glaciers and oil derricks.
An Arctic blast of action has swept into the 2008 race, making thinking passé. We don’t really need to hurt our brains studying the world; we just need the world to know we’re capable of bringing a world of hurt to the world if the world continues to be hell-bent on misbehaving.Whew, say that three times fast, Charlie Gibson. Maureen is so smart she is even doing exponential math:
The trigger-happy John McCain has indeed found a soul mate. Trigger squared. In Fairbanks on Thursday, at a deployment ceremony for her son who is going to Iraq, Governor Palin followed the lead of McCain and W. in fusing Osama bin Laden’s diabolical work on 9/11 and the mission in Iraq.Now that line about Palin conflating Al Qaeda with Al Qaeda in Iraq (which didn’t exist until after the invasion) is going to get as much wing-nut push back as her jibes about dinosaurs. You can argue that Maureen made two consecutive dinosaur jokes, which seem to me be based on a satirical e-mail making the rounds, tongue-in-cheek, but there is no wink and nod with Palin’s saber(toothed) rattling.
If Sarah had been reading about the world she feels so confident about leading rather than just parroting by rote what Randy Scheunemann and the neocons around McCain drilled into her last week — Drill, baby, drill! — she might have realized that as heinous as Russia’s behavior toward Georgia was, it was not completely unprovoked. The State Department has let it be known that it warned McCain’s friend, Misha, the hotheaded president of Georgia, not to send troops in to crush the rebellion in two breakaway states.It’s this overall lack of nuance and depth that Dowd, of all people, is taking her to task for. Palin reminds Maureen of another none-too-bright ingénue that stumbled onto the world stage with a similary outdoorsy folksy style.
The really scary part of the Palin interview was how much she seemed like W. in 2000, and not just the way she pronounced nu-cue-lar. She had the same flimsy but tenacious adeptness at saying nothing, the same generalities and platitudes, the same restrained resentment at being pressed to be specific, as though specific is the province of silly eggheads, not people who clear brush at the ranch or shoot moose on the tundra.The Tundra Governor has so enlivened Dowd that she only throws out one emasculating aside at Obama, but she does make-up for it with an Alliteration Alert®.
Her explosion onto the scene made Obama seem even more like a windy, wispy egghead.Maureen is so worked up, she only throws us one pop-cultural bone, and it is to another Sarah, Jessica Parker that is, who is about as far from Wasilla geographically and culturally as possible.
Sarah has single-handedly ushered out the “Sex and the City” era, and made the sexy new model for America a retro one — the glamorous Pioneer Woman, packing a gun, a baby and a Bible.The pioneer spirit makes her Sarah, Palin and tall. Sorry, that was a terrible pun and not as clever as Maureen’s parting shotgun shot.
Like W., Sarah has the power of positive unthinking. But now we may want to think about where ignorance and pride and no self-doubt has gotten us. Being quick on the trigger might be good in moose hunting, but in dealing with Putin, a little knowledge might come in handy."Positive unthinking" is just one of Dowd’s brilliant tossed-off Parker-esque bon mots that bears repeating. Polar bears repeating even.