Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Angry Young Man

I have spent my entire adult life trying to bridge the gap between different kinds of people. That's in my DNA, trying to promote mutual understanding to insist that we all share common hopes and common dreams as Americans and as human beings. That's who I am. That's what I believe. That's what this campaign has been about.

Yesterday, we saw a very different vision of America. I am outraged by the comments that were made and saddened over the spectacle that we saw yesterday.

And the fact that Rev. Wright would think that somehow it was appropriate to command the stage, for three or four consecutive days, in the midst of this major debate, is something that not only makes me angry but also saddens me.

-Barack Obama, April 28, 2008
Praying and Preying
Published: April 30, 2008

Maureen Dowd has been searching for a new moniker for Obama for a while. Obambi (which she stole from John Kass) is getting a little stale. She tried Golden Child for a bit, but now with Barack making a clean break from Reverend Wright she has a new Rude Name®. Let’s see if we can figure it out:
Barack Obama has spent his life, and campaign, trying not to be the Angry Black Man.

On Tuesday, the Sort Of Angry Black Man appeared, reluctantly spurred into action by The Really Angry Black Man.
Dowd notices that despite, or because of, his anger, the latent nicotine need is still there:
Speaking to reporters in the heart of tobacco country in Winston-Salem, N.C., the poor guy looked as if he were dying for a smoke. “When I say I find these comments appalling, I mean it,” Obama said. “It contradicts everything I am about and who I am.”
Dowd says that having to distance himself from the controversial preacher is difficult because since he was raised in a white household, Wright was his touchstone to African American culture:
At Trinity, he may have ignored what he should have heard because he was trying to assimilate to black culture. Now, he may be outraged by what he belatedly heard because he’s trying to relate to the white lunch-pail set.

Having been deserted at age 2 by his father, Obama has now been deserted by the father-figure in his church, the man who inspired him to become a Christian, married him, dedicated his house, baptized his children, gave him the title of his second book and theme for his presidential run and worked on his campaign.
That book was titled The Audacity Of Hope and was taken from Wright’s signature speech “The Audacity To Hope.” At least the good reverend got the preposition right. The more grammatically correct title would have been The Audaciousness Of Hope. (Audacilious?) You would think a Harvard-trained lawyer would know better.

This was all in response to Reverend Wright’s barnstorming tour over the weekend. Dowd says this was motivated by anger of his own:
He was certainly sore at Obama, after helping him get connected in Chicago politics, for distancing himself. But he was also clearly envious that Obama has been hailed by his flock as the halo-wearing Redeemer of America’s hope.
And I use that quote just so that I can recycle my halo photoshop.

Dowd makes at least one old school reference to one of Bill Clinton’s many campaign kerfuffles as well as Hillary Clinton's claim that she is fully vetted, a prediction that is starting to carry some weight.
Tuesday was more than a Sister Souljah moment; it was a painful form of political patricide. “I did not vet my pastor before I decided to run for the presidency,” Obama said.

In a campaign that’s all about who’s vetted, maybe he should have.
Sister Souljah, a Clinton supporter way back in 1992 had said:
If black people kill black people every day, why not have a week and kill white people?
Her defenders said the quote was taken out of context. But like many of Reverend Wright’s more inflammatory statements, it’s hard to think of a context where it isn’t offensive.

But if Maureen was really as down with the hip-hop scene as she pretends to be, she would have renamed it a Sister Souljah Boy Tell ‘Em Moment. Crank that.

Monday, April 28, 2008

This Week With Maureen

Maureen Dowd was a member of The Roundtable on "This Week With George Stephanopoulos". The full video segment is available here.

When asked about Obama on the campaign trail, she mashed up some recent columns and said:

It was very painful watching [Obama] carbo-loading all the time. This week in Indiana he was reduced to saying that he really does like pot roast and jello and pleading with the reporters that he's not a GQ cover. I think that that basically when he had that cris de cour(sp?) about "Why can't you just let me eat my waffles?", he was saying "Why can't I just be President?" or maybe "Why can't I be ex-President?" and get rid of the pesky reporters and Hillary and everyone.
On Bill Clinton's contribution to the campaign, she says:
The Wall Street Journal had a story yesterday that in the suburbs where [Bill Clinton] worked really hard, [Hillary] got a larger margin of the vote. So even though he was the first politician in history to play the Caucasian Card {Stephanopoulos chuckles}, some Democrats think he is really hurting her, there is some proof otherwise.
And back to Hillary:
That's the power of Hillary Clinton. That even though rationally we think that she can't possible make it mathematically, irrationally we keep saying "How is she going to make it?" I think she has done real damage in turning him from incandescent to ineffectual. She has repainted him as Bambi.
About McCain trying to distance himself from 527 groups running ads featuring the speeches of Reverend Wright:
Having been beaten that way by Dubya in 2000, a very painful way for him, I don't think he's going to to do that again. He does want the best of both worlds. There was a story in the Washington Times about how he can't get control of his party again. On the other hand, I think this is good for him the more Wright is on TV.
She was looser and more forthcoming during the Green Room segment. Asked if McCain is doing a good job getting the message out about the economy.
John McCain is not doing a good job and I don't think Barack Obama is either. He should have had a great economic speech ready to go in that last week in Pennsylvania. And he should have had a great patriotic speech ready to go also. He had one he was working on and delayed it after the San Francisco "bitter" comments. He thought it would seem to opportunistic to do it so soon, but he shouldn't have. His campaign is very static and stale on the economy.

It should just be an organic part of what he is talking about. He has a real problem relating to lower class people. Somebody said after the bitter thing, a Pennsylvania voter said, he makes us feel like we just fell off the apple cart.
On if the campaign is fun:
Well, I'm having more fun than Obama.He finds it so painful. And I'm carbo-loading. I had two cheesesteaks to do a taste comparison between the two places. He gave away his french fries. But you try to make it look fun.
Asked for suggestions, she said, "Get rid of that hi-def."

The Green Room handler said, "But you look great."

She replied, "We'll see. My hand was shaking according to Matt. It was sheer terror."

Matt then confessed that it was just a ploy to hold her hand. And who could blame him?

Disclaimer: The transcription is my own and has been editted for clarity and continuity. Any errors are mine alone.

For a backstage look at the production of the show read this blog entry by Dowd Report contributor yellojkt.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

High School Bites

Desperately Seeking Street Cred
Published: April 27, 2008

Maureen Dowd is frequently accused of treating politics like high school. But she is even more in tune with the teen set than we realized. She is up on all the reading trends:

Maybe I’ve been reading too many stories about the fad of teenage vampire chick lit, worlds filled with parasitic aliens and demi-human creatures, but there’s something eerie going on in this race.

Hillary grows more and more glowy as Obama grows more and more wan.

Is she draining him of his precious bodily fluids? Leeching his magic? Siphoning off his aura?
While it would seem that teenage vampire chick lit would be a rather narrow niche, it’s a real one and full of title like Dangerous Girls, Midnight Predator, and Uninvited, all of which would make great campaign bio titles.

In Maureen Dowd’s high school, Obama is the fashion conscious Gossip Girl that smokes too much and eats too little.
He looks like he wants to run away somewhere for three months by himself and smoke.

Hillary is not getting much sleep or exercise, and doesn’t, like the ascetic Obama, abstain from junk food and coffee and get up at dawn to work out on the road.
Barack will continue to be tagged with the label of the kid who doesn’t clean his plate despite his protests:
He dutifully enthused about carbs, assuring reporters that when he had dinner as a child with his Kansas grandparents, the food “would have been very familiar to anybody here in Indiana. A lot of pot roast, potatoes and Jell-O molds.”
It doesn’t play very plausible. On the other hand, Hillary has no qualms about eating on the road:
The Nixonian Hillary has a ravenous hunger that Obama lacks. Literally — at a birthday party in Philly for her photographer, she was devouring the chips and dip with two hands — and viscerally.
“Ravenous”, “devouring” and “viscerally” would all be great words for a teenage vampire chick lit book. And the invocation of an undead Republican is not an isolated incident. Dowd also name checks another blood-sucking ghoul from the GOP:
Even some Obama fans find Hillary’s toughness and shameless shape-shifting compelling. Having lost the White House twice to brass-knuckled pols, the Dems may be drawn to a woman who thinks like Karl Rove.
But Obama is not without his mystical charms. He is also the sports star who is magic on the court, if not in the lanes.
He tried to recapture the magic — and erase the bowling debacle — by shooting hoops with kids in Kokomo on Friday night.
We have a nice underplayed Alliteration Alert® with "kids in Kokomo" and we milk the sports metaphor for one more paragraph:
As a basketball player, he should know he’s in overtime in his race with Hillary — and overtime is not the period to indulge in whining.
Which leads us to a new feature (h/t to Grace Nearing), the Crossword Puzzle Clue Of The Week®:
But then he resumed wry whingeing about his 37 bowling score, explaining that he finished only seven frames, including two that “were bowled by a 10-year-old” and another by a 3-year-old.
From American Heritage Dictionary Online:
Whinge: Chiefly British To complain or protest, especially in an annoying or persistent manner.
Once again, Dowd searches through her thesaurus to find just the perfect word and nails it. “Annoying” and “persistent” complaining hits just the right note. And Obama’s defense of his bowling skilz would be more plausible if there weren’t Dukakis-riding-a-tank quality video of the event.

The endings of recent Dowd columns have been a little soft because so much in this campaign is still unsettled. She does finally tie the search for street cred into the Madonna-tinged titular Movies With Maureen®. Here she sums up ambiguously:
“I don’t want to go out of my way to sort of prove my street cred as a down-to-earth guy,” he said, after going out of his way. “People know me.”

Not yet, but we will, one of these years.
Is Dowd predicting plenty of Barack for the next four years or is she saying it will take that long to find the true colors of this street-wise Harvard lawyer? Whatever the answer, we will have Maureen on hand to keep a handle on the state of his life forces and aura (and let's not even touch precious bodily fluids). And to keep us update on supernatural chick lit trends.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Dowd Alert: This Week With Georgie

Maureen Dowd makes fairly infrequent guest stints on the Sunday morning yakker shows. Her last appearance was on "Meet The Press" on January 27. (Dowd Central of course has a link to that in the archive.) This Week (literally) she snubs fellow Obamaphile Tim Russert to go into the lion's den of former Clintonista George Stephanopoulos. It must be some sort of penance he is paying for his uniformly panned debate moderating.

From ABC's press release:

And on our "Roundtable," the New York Times' Maureen Dowd and ABC News' Donna Brazile, Matthew Dowd and George Will debate the week's politics.

Tune-in Sunday for "This Week" from the Newseum.
The Newseum is a news oriented musuem (duh) on Pennsylvania Avenue that is the new site for the "This Week With George Snufflupagus" studio. As this video explains, it will be the first Sunday morning talk show broadcast in high definition. So if you have ever wanted to see Maureen Dowd's copper tressed visage in all its glory, tomorrow morning is your chance.

Friday, April 25, 2008

BlogWatch: Maureen's Crib

It recently came to the attention of Dowd Central that Oprah Magazine did a virtual tour of Maureen Dowd’s Georgetown townhome recently. This fact came courtesy of Cannonfire blog that makes the argument that since Dowd lives in a nice house, she can’t possibly understand the working person:

Go here to visit Maureen's home:
The 1819 building was the first Maureen Dowd saw when she went house-hunting in 1995, and she fell for it immediately. There were the classic Georgetown details, including the six fireplaces, the wood floors, a pocket-size backyard, and what seemed like an endless number of rooms—two parlors, a den, a formal dining room, and three bedrooms.
Yet she claims to speak on behalf of the Democrats. Mere workers do not count.
Our second notice of the Dowd Estate came courtesy of long-time DowdHater® Bob Somersby of the Daily Howler:
PALACE LIVING: In 2006, Oprah magazine toured Dowd’s crib. If you’re curious, go ahead—just click here. “I go over the top at times with too many leopard-print pillows,” Dowd says. For ourselves, we’ve always admired journalists who can spot—and admit—their mistakes.
The timing of Somersby’s little dig right after it gets mentioned somewhere else is a curious coincidence proving to me that the world of DowdWatchers is not only small but also rather incestuous.

The house itself has a historical connection. The Oprah site says:
That President Kennedy lived there as a senator didn't lessen its appeal to Maureen the political junkie. She bought it immediately.
JFK lived in seven different places in Georgetown before becoming President and the historic significance of the one Maureen owns is summarized on the DC Traveler’s JFK Walking Tour Guide:
3260 N Street, NW (Stop 1) is where Kennedy began his career in the Senate. While living there, he attended a Georgetown dinner party in 1952 and met the captivating Jacqueline Bouvier. It was another nine months before, at another dinner party thrown by the same couple, he again met and this time, asked Jackie out on a double date to a carnival in Georgetown the following weekend.
A far more utilitarian description of the house is available on which estimates its current value at $1.2 million dollars, which is on the low end for toney Georgetown. The 1,608 square foot house was built in 1819 and has five bedrooms and 2.5 baths.

The Oprah tour has several pictures of the interior with this one of the bookcase. The resolution is too low to read the book titles, but there is clearly a set of Matryoshka Nesting Dolls it the form of Soviet leaders. Alas, there are no pictures of where the magic happens, and by that I mean the home office where she writes her columns. What did you think I mean, you pervs?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Perfect Column

Wilting Over Waffles
Published: April 23, 2008

Every now and then an archetypal example of something comes along. Today’s Maureen Dowd column is like the every column she's ever written all wrapped into one. Lets’ go through the catalog:

Alliteration Alert®: It starts in Wilting Waffles of the title and then goes on to “Caucasian Card” and “embarrassing explosion”.

Movies With Maureen®: It’s just not a Dowd column without at least one trip to the video store. This time Hillary Clinton is a enormous red-headed harpy enraged with jealousy. Project much, Maureen?

The Democrats are growing ever more desperate about the Attack of the 50 Foot Woman.
Emasculating Obama®: This time she puts the words into Hillary’s mouth:
Her message is unapologetically emasculating: If he does not have the gumption to put me in my place, when superdelegates are deserting me, money is drying up, he’s outspending me 2-to-1 on TV ads, my husband’s going crackers and party leaders are sick of me, how can he be trusted to totally obliterate Iran and stop Osama?
But she also delves into her long running obsessive theme of Obama as a food-picking anorexic:
He split the pancakes with Michelle, left some of the waffle and sausage behind, and gave away the French fries that came with the cheese steak.
Silly Phrases From Freshman French®: Why something like “whiny wail” wouldn’t have done here is only John Kerry’s guess:
That was made plain with his cri de coeur at the Glider Diner in Scranton when a reporter asked him about Jimmy Carter and Hamas.
Middlebrow Literary Allusions®: We have two to chose from here. it's good to know that a childless woman of a certain age is familiar with childhood classics:
Before they devour themselves once more, perhaps the Democrats will take a cue from Dr. Seuss’s “Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now!” (The writer once mischievously redid it for his friend Art Buchwald as “Richard M. Nixon Will You Please Go Now!”)

And then, with a Brobdingnagian finger-wagging on the screen, he denied it to an NBC News reporter.
Blatant Bill Bashing®: That second quote above is part of a larger random swipe at the Big Dog because not a column goes by without an updated on Bill Clinton's latest step into dog poo:
They also cringe as Bill continues his honey-crusted-nut-bar meltdown.

If there’s one person who knows about crass diversions, it’s Bill. But even for him, it was an embarrassing explosion, capped with some blue language to an aide that was caught on air.
And for those of you that want to know what Bill said that brought out the prude, according to ABC News, he dropped the S-bomb:
Then, after the interview had concluded but the microphone had not yet been turned off, he said, "I don't think I should take any s[hit] from anybody on that, do you?"
The Left-Handed Hillary Compliment®: If nothing else, and truly nothing else, Dowd admires Senator Clinton’s tenacity.
The very fact that he can’t shake her off has become her best argument against him.
Awkward Sports Metaphor®: I can’t tell if Dowd thinks the candidates are playing volleyball or tennis or basketball or darts here.
Despite all his incandescent gifts, Obama has missed several opportunities to smash the ball over the net and end the game. Again and again, he has seemed stuck at deuce. He complains about the politics of scoring points, but to win, you’ve got to score points.

He knew he tanked in the Philadelphia debate, but he was so irritated by the moderators — and by having to stand next to Hillary again — that he couldn’t summon a single merry dart.
All we are missing to make this the perfect Dowd column is a tortured Dowdversion® and a new inventive Rude Name®. Instead we will have to make due with a line that DowdHaters will latch onto out of context and twist back to Maureen:
“You can go on skates. You can go on skis. ... You can go in an old blue shoe.
Just go, go, GO!”
Which is also Dowd's way of unsubtly telling Hillary not to go away mad, just go away.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

One Night Only: Dowd And Kristol Together

The two most polarizing pundits on the New York Times opinion page will be making a joint appearance at Hofstra University this Thursday, April 24. Maureen Dowd and Bill Kristol will be speaking as part of The President’s Educate ’08 Event Series. For more information see the news release

I fully expect a pie to be thrown, I'm just not sure at whom.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Rap Star Obama-Z

If you feelin like a pimp nigga,
go and brush your shoulders off

Ladies is pimps too,
go and brush your shoulders off

Niggaz is crazy baby,
don't forget that boy told you

Get, that, dirt off your shoulder

-Jay-Z "Dirt Off Your Shoulder"

Brush It Off
Published: April 20, 2008

Like Barbara Billingsley in Airplane, Maureen Dowd can speak Jive, old school style.
Barack Obama, who says he listens to Jay-Z along with his “old school guy” favorites like Earth, Wind & Fire and the Temptations, alluded to the rapper’s 2003 hit “Dirt Off Your Shoulder” on Thursday to sweep away concerns about his pugnacity.

After conceding that the Philly debate was tough, he brushed the imaginary lint of Hillary, George and Charlie from his shoulders, in a wordless reference to Jay-Z’s lyrics in his anthem about not letting anyone crimp your ride as you cruise from the bottom to the top: “Got some, dirt on my shoulder, could you brush it off for me.”
First off, changing "pimp your ride" to "crimp" is old lady lame. And Maureen catching onto the not-so-subliminal Jay-Z reference wasn't all that earth shattering. The hidden message of the shoulder brushing was immediately apparent to most of the blogosphere where it battled an alleged bird flip as the most debated hand gesture of his speech. It didn't take long for the YouTube stars to mash up the song and the speech so that there was no mistaking the diss (audio NSFW - it's Jay-Z, duh):

Having been on the campaign plane with Barack, Maureen starts fantasizing about how cool an Obama presidency is going to look.
There’s no doubt the cat is cool. It’s easy to imagine the wild reception many parts of the world would give a President Obama as he loped down the stairs of Air Force One in his aviator glasses, the chic and chiseled Michelle on his arm.
The hot/cool metaphor is just too painful to diagram. It's tedious even by Dowd standards. Obama last loped in the column where he snuck up on her on the campaign plane while eating barbecue. And unless you've covered as many Obama rallies as Maureen you may not be aware that Obama uses a certain Stevie Wonder chestnut as his campaign stop closer:
But before it’s signed, sealed and delivered, as his campaign song goes, Obama will have to balance his cool with some heat, as J.F.K. did. He seems too imperious about the power of hot-button values issues that have proved so potent for most of his lifetime.
But according to Dowd, he has switched to something more patriotic as he focuses attention on defusing the fervor behind McCain.
Even though his supporters raised Cain about ABC, Obama is smart enough to know he will need a better game against a canny war hero. Campaigning in Pennsylvania on Friday, he seemed eager to show he was not highfalutin. He said he and Michelle weren’t born with silver spoons; he shared how “burned up” he was when his sick mother could not get health insurance; he hugged a disabled veteran who thanked him for getting into the race, and he left a rally with a lusty “God Bless America.”
Dowd slips in the phrase "better game" (maybe Mystery can become a campaign consultant) to show that she's hip to the lingo, but also proves that she speaks fluent Fogey by slipping in "highfalutin" as the closest word to "uppity" she dares attempt.

If she really wanted to prove how down with the hip-hopper she was, she'd be using "99 Problems" as Obama's reaction to the increasingly irrelevant Clinton Campaign:
99 problems but the bitch ain't one
If you're havin' girl problems I feel bad for you son
I got 99 problems but a bitch ain't one
Hit me
But instead Maureen tries to talk like she's ever seen a copy of XXL.
He’s trying, as Jay-Z says, to get flow.
With that kind of clunky phrasing, we don't have to worry about Dowd getting crunky any time soon.

Friday, April 18, 2008

DowdSpotting: Her Hair Was Perfect

Wednesday night, Maureen Dowd was working/stalking the Democratic Debate and drew as much attention as the candidates. Natasha Chart of Open Left was working the press room with her fellow press-credentialed bloggers and spotted Dowd. Wanting a quote, she approached her.

Then Valania suggested that I ask Maureen Dowd what she thought, since she was coming our way. I scanned the direction I was more or less facing, as he indicated, spotted her, then looked back at him. She wasn't that far away, our eyes briefly met, she must have gotten a load of my bleached buzzcut or something, and then she pretty much kept staring most the rest of the way over to where she'd have to file past me in our narrow confines. It made me kind of twitchy.
But she was rebuffed:
"I've got to go to the spin room," she said, raising a warding hand with haughty languor. She sauntered off with her entourage, surveilled the back section of the room for a scosh, and then headed off to be spun. Well.

I wonder what Maureen Dowd would write about someone who acted like that towards her?
Because Maureen really doesn't have anything better to do that chit-chat with bloggers while the fate of the Democratic Party is being decided. Which leads to some catty remarks to the effect that Dowd is too pretty to be knocking other candidates on their appearance.
Which brings up more questions for me: Why should Maureen Dowd, whose own meticulously coiffed and dyed locks seem to have been airbrushed directly into reality by some fashion photography genius (seriously, her hair is surreal in its perfection,) have ever been allowed to make a national political issue out of John Edwards' hair? And why, by contrast, shouldn't her job be given instead to a real lifestyle reporter like Booker, who still manages to care about nontrivial issues and had a reasonable, human reaction to last night's festival of horrors?
The whole incident was confirmed by Jonathon Valania of Citizen Mom who also got a picture.
It all went down the way Chart says, including the contrast between MoDo, who minced around the press room in an expensive-looking (if oddly bedazzled) sweater, and Candy Crowley, who spent the debate tapping away on her keyboard and prepping for her live shot by fixing her makeup in a compact mirror.
So we don't want any stories about Dowd sending stringers to get quotes when we have photographic proof that Maureen was working the press room and annoying her star-struck groupies with her indifference. So keep up the catty remarks about clothes and hair, fellow bloggers. That way Dowd will know you are serious journalists like her.

Photo credit: Jonathon Valania

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Bitter Barack Breakup

You're just a mass of prejudices, aren't you? You're so much thought and so little feeling, Professor.
-The Philadelphia Story

Eggheads and Cheese Balls
Published: April 16, 2008

The love affair is over. Sweet, sweet Obama has gone and insulted Maureen Dowd’s working class family and the love affair is over. But she’s not bitter. Just ask her.
I’m not bitter.

I’m not writing this just because I grew up in a house with a gun, a strong Catholic faith, an immigrant father, brothers with anti-illegal immigrant sentiments and a passion for bowling. (My bowling trophy was one of my most cherished possessions.)
And when Maureen is mad, she grabs a tub of ice cream and curls up with some DVDs. We have a full slate of Pennsylvania themed Movies With Maureen® today starting with Hillary as Rocky (see this post for that unsightly image) and The Deer Hunter with Obambi as the titular target.

And as Obama has courted white, blue-collar voters in “Deer Hunter” and “Rocky” country, he has often appeared to be observing the odd habits of the colorful locals, resisting as the natives try to fatten him up like a foie gras goose, sampling Pennsylvania beer in a sports bar with his tie tight, awkwardly accepting bowling shoes as a gift from Bob Casey, examining the cheese and salami at the Italian Market here as intriguing ethnic artifacts, purchasing Utz Cheese Balls at a ShopRite in East Norriton and quizzing the women working in a chocolate factory about whether they could possibly really like the sugary doodads.

Utz is a regional brand of snack foods much beloved by the denizens of the mid-Atlantic. Dowd smirked at Barack’s daintiness around high calorie food before. Especially something as alliterative as a fattened foie gras goose And nothing could be worse for the arteries that a full Philly cheesesteak “wid” onions, not swiss cheese like Kerry’s infamous faux pas.
He hasn’t pulled a John Kerry and asked for a Philly cheese steak with Swiss yet, but he has maintained a regal “What do the simple folk do to help them escape when they’re blue?” bearing, unable to even feign Main Street cred. But Hillary did when she belted down a shot of Crown Royal whiskey with gusto at Bronko’s in Crown Point, Ind.
And we know from a previous column that Dowd admires a candidate that can knock back a shot or twelve. And speaking of shots, Dowd is just as suspicious of everyone else as to Hillary’s newly revealed hunting prowess. She is more likely to be mistaken for Mitt Romney hunting varmits than for any wild west impresario.
Just as he couldn’t knock down the bowling pins, he can’t knock down Annie Oakley or “the girl in the race,” as her husband called her Tuesday — the self-styled blue-collar heroine who reluctantly revealed a $100 million fortune partially built on Bill’s shady connections.

But Obama bad mouthing her kin is not enough to win Maureen over. She takes a Woody Allen movie title and alliterates it over to match the Bosnian dissembling.
Even when Hillary’s campaign collapsed around her and her husband managed to revive the bullets over Bosnia, Obama has still not been able to marshal a knockout blow — or even come up with a knockout economic speech that could expand his base of support.

The Katherine Hepburn/Cary Grant classic gets a double work-out since it relates to both the upscale Philly suburbs and the perils of falling for the wrong guy.
In the screwball movie genre that started during the last Depression, there was a great tradition of the millionaire who was cool enough to relate to the common man — like Cary Grant’s C.K. Dexter Haven in “The Philadelphia Story.”
Obama did not grow up in cosseted circumstances. “Now when is the last time you’ve seen a president of the United States who just paid off his loan debt?” Michelle Obama asked Tuesday at Haverford College, referring to Barack’s student loans while speaking in the shadow of the mansions depicted in “The Philadelphia Story.”
And the spoiled little lamb insinuation inherent in "cosseted" fits so well with the Obambi metaphor. But, the most interesting movie allusion in the column is also the most subtle.
The last few weeks have not been kind to Hillary, but the endless endgame has not been kind to the Wonder Boy either. Obama comes across less like a candidate in Pennsylvania than an anthropologist in Borneo.

Wonder Boy
was the name of Robert Redford’s bat in The Natural. And Dowd explicitly called Obama “The Natural” back in January. But Wonder Boys (with an ‘s’) is the title of a film about an out-of-touch drugged-up elitist professor that can’t relate to the real world. This movie starred former Dowd flame Michael Douglas. But she’s not bitter. After all, who can compete with Catherine Zeta-Jones?

And if Barry is developing airs over having to mingle with the cheese-ball eating, gun-toting hoi polloi of Pennsylvania, who can blame Dowd for ditching this guy who just wants to hobnob with effete New York liberal media types. Like Maureen Dowd.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Dance Dance Innuendo

Standing by His Woman
Published: April 13, 2008

Last week Maureen Dowd suggested we pick our next president based on who can hold their liquor the best. Since that might favor the vodka-favoring Hillary, this week she has decided that we need to have a dance-off.

See the video of Hillary dancing at a seniors’ aerobics class at a Philly Y.M.C.A. Awk.

Compare that to the slick moves of Senator Smooth Jazz.

The Clinton video has been viewed less than 300 times while Obama has over 700,000 views. I think the voters have spoken. Krugman will probably argue that a bowling tournament would be a fairer test of skill.

The rest of the column is the weekly Dowd update on how the wheels are coming off the bus while at the same time she keeps throwing advisors under the bus. What is masterful about this column is the economy with which Dowd embeds subliminal references to other previous scandals and incidents.
Bill is also crazed about the ineluctable fact that he isn’t Obama.
Maureen explained this in more detail back on in the March 26 column when she said this:
And even Clinton supporters know that Bill does not want to be replaced as the first black president, especially by a black president with enough magic to possibly eclipse him in the history books.
According to Dowd, this rear guard assualt on Obama is personal. The Big Dog wants to stay the darling of Harlem, but his running of the mouth doesn't always help his cause. When Bill Clinton mentions bank robbing sarcastically, that is enough of an opening to dredge up some metaphorical mugging.
“And, oh, they acted like she was practically Mata Hari, you know? Just making up all this stuff,” he said, adding: “And you would’ve thought, you know, that she’d robbed a bank the way they all carried on about this.”

Given her 3 a.m. ads — (that has got to be her hedge fund manager on the phone) — it was not very flattering for Bill to rant on and suggest that her 60-year-old brain was fuzzy.
This lets Dowd recall Hillary's financial windfall from fraudulent futures trading.

And while accusing Hillary of pimping Chelsea is beyond the pale, there is no compunction about calling Bill a call girl, even if he is a seven diamond hooker.
But the dubious deals of her husband, a seven-diamond influence peddler, do provide an unsavory contrast with some of the candidate’s positions.
Seven diamonds was the top price level of Hillary's super-delegate Spitzer's favorite escort agency. And Bill is nothing if not high priced even if his taste in trailer trash is low rent.

While this column is ostensibly about Bill reopening the wound of Hillary's Bosnian dissembling, it is really about things being business as usual for the Clintons. Funny business, money business, and monkey business. It is these little innuendos that Dowd slips in so that every column does double duty. And that innuendo is that the Clintons are unfit for an encore dance.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Witchcraft and Statecraft

To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.
-Macbeth, Act V, scene v

Toil and Trouble
Published: April 9, 2008

Maureen Dowd is feeling very Shakespearean lately and clearly obsessed with black magic. She recently called Hillary Clinton Lady Voldemort, which is clearly a portmanteau of Lady Macbeth and the villain from the Harry Potter series. Today she more explicitly compares the war in Iraq to Macbeth’s sorcery filled tale.
Maybe it was because I was sitting in the back of the Senate chamber with three war protesters — grim-faced, chanting women dressed in black hooded cloaks, white makeup and blood-red hands — that I felt as though I were watching a production of “Macbeth” rather than a hearing on Iraq.

“Fair is foul, and foul is fair,” the witches in the play said. “Hover through the fog and filthy air.” (Act I, scene i)
General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker were first called The Surge Twins (as opposed to the Glimmer Twins) back on September 12, 2007 (just a week before yours truly began documenting Dowd’s pop cultural fascination with Rude Names®). They are back for an encore:
The Surge Twins were back, but the daylong testimony of David Petraeus and Ryan Crocker before two committees seemed more depressing this time. As the Bard writes in “Macbeth”: “From that spring whence comfort seemed to come, discomfort swells.” (Act I, scene ii)
That’s two quotes from the first act. I don’t know if she is saving the rest of the play for a later column or if that is just as far as she got before getting tired of the sophomore English conceit. And I know Dowd doesn’t know enough comic books to make a deliberate Green Lantern reference, but I read this as “guardians of Oa” the first time I read it:
The guardians of Iraq offer more of the same — a post-Surge Pause or “consolidation and evaluation,” as the general generically puts it — and no answers about how we can stop our ward from aligning with our enemy.
And I have no idea whether a post-Surge Pause is anything like menopause, but they both seen to be rather chaotic events.

I’m not sure what Dowd has against the senator from California, but she gives her props here:
You know you’re in trouble when Barbara Boxer is the voice of reason.

“Why is it,” she asked, “after all we have given — 4,024 American lives, gone; more than half-a-billion dollars spent; all this for the Iraqi people, but it’s the Iranian president who is greeted with kisses and flowers?”

She warmed to: “He got a red-carpet treatment, and we are losing our sons and daughters every single day for the Iraqis to be free. It is irritating is my point.”
Ambassador Crocker dryly assured the senator from California that he believed that Dick Cheney had also gotten kissed on his visit to Iraq.
Cheney may have gotten kissed, but it’s the American people that are getting screwed.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Vice Squad

The Vodka Chronicles
Published: April 6, 2008

Maureen Dowd gets down to analyzing all the remaining presidential candidates and the criteria she uses is who has the most repugnant personal vice. She knocks McCain for not drinking enough, given his hard driving naval aviator reputation.

In his book and last week’s bio-tour, McCain painted himself as a cool bad boy. He was a girl-loving, authority-defying, plane-crashing Top Gun.

McCain’s pals know him as a man who enjoys libations of vodka with little green cocktail olives. Over the years, at dinners with reporters, I noted he had the habit of ordering one double vodka and sipping it slowly. And there was that famous Hillary-McCain Estonian drink-off in 2004, when Hillary instigated a vodka shot contest and McCain agreed with alacrity (even though he later offered a sketchy denial).
She had mentioned the bipartisan Temple of Doom style shot drinking contest on her last Meet The Press appearance back in January. She is worried that the candidate is being whitewashed because it would cut into the use of Rude Names®:
If his campaign is bowdlerizing, let’s hope it stops before he’s a bland McNice.
If McCain seems like the stealth temperance candidate, Hillary, according to Dowd, seems to be seeping under the rug her desire to earn the Absolut endorsement. The second feature of today’s Movies With Maureen® double feature is Election.

Oddly, Hillary, a Tracy Flick Goodie Two Shoes growing up, is the only one who seems to be enjoying her vices… Her campaign doesn’t deny that she likes to kick back, at the end of a long day, with a vodka on her plane.
But it’s Obama that earns her scorn for pretending to down a drink but watering the plants instead.
Everyone may imagine that Obama and his press corps spend all their time quaffing Champagne and celebrating the astonishment of his very being. But the candidate is boringly abstemious — and reporters traveling with him find him aloof. On a 2005 trip to Russia, he priggishly requested that his vodka shot glass be filled with water.
But Obama is not entirely vice free. While his pot and coke days may be behind him, he keeps backsliding on his cancer stick habit. Worse than his addiction to the devil’s weed, he is one of those annoying inconsiderate smokers that throws his butts on your windshield.
Ever since Chicago reporters followed the up-and-coming Obama and saw him flicking his ashes and butts out the windows of moving vehicles, the senator has had a testy relationship with the press about his addictions to cigarettes and littering. (Obama, wrote one reporter on his blog, was “one of those reprehensible nicotine addicts who seems to believe that the world is his ashtray.”)
Dowd’s uncited source is David Mendell as quoted by Eric Zorn. If Hillary is serious about using every weapon against Obama, she needs to appeal to those of us that find highway butt flickers repulsive.

But when discussing vices, a special corner is saved for possible future First Lad Bill Clinton. His White House chubby chasing days may be behind him with hope for an encore dimming, but he seems to be having fun with his Billionaire’s Boys Club. She sees the Big Dog being kept on too short a leash:
Bill Clinton is a cautionary tale about what happens if you surrender too many cherished vices. Curtailed from Burkling, international jet-setting, cholesterol-chowing and race-baiting, Bill has gotten raspy and lost his legendary charm.
“Burkling” is a term coined by Dowd to describe Bill’s habit of hanging around rich guys of flexible matrimonial status like gossip column staple Ron Burkle. In July of 2007, Dowd had an imaginary Hillary warn the equally imaginary Bill:
“Speaking of roving, don’t even think about going on your Hollywood rat pack’s planes after I’m elected,” she snaps. “Strictly Air Force for you, mister, with extra federal marshals. You promised me two terms after your two terms, and I’m not going to get that if you’re caught Burkling or Binging.”
In real news (as opposed to a Dowd column), the Clintons finances are intimately entwined with Burke’s business ventures which are highly dependent on favorable legislation.

In the mean time, Dowd heaves an alliterative sigh of despair about the loss of real bad boys.
Let the Big Dog off his leash. There can be virtue in a little vice.
Since Dowd won her Pulitzer tut-tutting over Bill’s vices, perhaps she has an ulterior motive in hoping for a candidate with a few bad habits to pick on.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Eye Of The Tiger

Rocky: I can't do it.
Adrian: What?
Rocky: I can't beat him.
Adrian: Apollo?
Rocky: Yeah. I been out there walkin' around, thinkin'. I mean, who am I kiddin'? I ain't even in the guy's league.
-Rocky (1976)

The Hillary Waltz
Published: April 2, 2008

Movies With Maureen® has become like shooting fish in a barrel with Hillary Clinton running around comparing herself to Sylvester Stallone. Someone should point out to her that Rocky Balboa the punch-drunk boxer lost in the first movie. With movies out of the way, Maureen Dowd resorts to middlebrow opera call-outs:

Not only does she have a lot in common with Rocky, as she said Tuesday in Philadelphia, but she has a lot in common with another famous character — the Marschallin in Strauss’s bittersweet comic opera “Der Rosenkavalier.”

The Marschallin is a princess married to a Viennese field marshal who has a liaison dangereuse with a younger man, Count Octavian. Though she’s worried about her fleeting youth and the fickleness of men, she instructs the young man on the ways of love and then gracefully sets him free, allowing him to find happiness with young Sophie as a soaring waltz plays.
The opera synopsis includes yet another French lesson that doubles as a hidden movie reference to Dangerous Liasons, either the Roger Vadim or Glenn Close version. We also get The Hillary Waltz which is a sequel to the Nepotism Tango. Maureen does like those old fashioned dance steps. Back in November, she pointed out how Condi let Rummy "waltz away with the occupation". And Dubya and Dad are in an "Oedipal tango."

With the obligatory pop culture references out of the way, she can get on with the main agenda, cataloging Hillary’s faux pas and emasculating the nominee apparent. Time to pull out the pink highlighter once again as Maureen goes for the feminine adverbs and adjectives.
His strenuous and inadvertently hilarious efforts to woo working-class folk in Pennsylvania have only made him seem more effete. Keeping his tie firmly in place, he genteelly sipped his pint of Yuengling beer.
We last heard effete on March 9th as Dowd equated Obama with other unmasculine Democratic losers:
Obama’s multiculturalism is a selling point with many Democrats. But his impassioned egghead advisers have made his campaign seem not only out of his control, but effete and vaguely foreign — the same unflattering light that doomed Michael Dukakis and John Kerry.
But before that, the "e-word" was leveled against John Edwards a year ago in her “Running With Scissors” hatchet job on the Breck Girl.
In presidential politics, it’s all but impossible to put the man into manicure. Be sensitive, but not soft. Effete is never effective.
Dowd is also well known for her obsession with Barack’s attempts to maintain his girlish figure:
At the Wilbur chocolate shop in Lititz Monday, he spent most of his time skittering away from chocolate goodies, as though he were a starlet obsessing on a svelte waistline.

He looked even more concerned when he was offered a chocolate cake with white chocolate frosting. “Oh, man.” he said. “That’s too decadent for me.”
But Dowd can’t stay away from the boxing metaphor and makes this assertion:
Winning has no margin of error, as the Democrats should have learned by now. And the winner gets to decide his or her running mate.

But the ultimate favor Hillary can do for the Illinois freshman is to fight him full-out until the finale and then gracefully release him so he can find happiness with another.
And then, just like the The Cavalier of the Rose, he can move on to the general election by waltzing or skipping or "imitating his daughters’ dance moves by twirling around." But he might want to buy some boxing gloves instead of dancing shoes when he tangles with the Fruitbat in a Dinner Jacket:
Hillary’s work is done only when she is done, because the best way for Obama to prove he’s ready to stare down Ahmadinejad is by putting away someone even tougher.
When the Iranian Anti-Semite in Chief is considered a cakewalk compared to Hillary, that makes her one tough sparring partner.