Monday, September 29, 2008

McCain Bans Dowd

Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post in a post-debate spin wrap-up lets slip that a certain red-tressed NYT columnist is persona non grata on Straight Talk One.

Outside, on a summerlike evening, Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs held forth for the likes of NBC's Chuck Todd and New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, who was wearing an Elvis T-shirt. (The company may have been more pleasant than that of McCain aides, who have barred Dowd from the candidate's plane. And the Obama camp seemed to show its media leanings when it texted followers to watch the debate -- on CNN.)
So much for an open and honest campaign. Hat-tip to the Washington Independent that notes that snubbing Maureen is a Republican rite of passage. Here at Dowd Central, we're more interested in getting a pic of that Elvis shirt.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

A Few Good Movies With Maureen

You don't want the truth because deep down in places you don't talk about at parties you want me on that wall, you need me on that wall. We use words like honor, code, loyalty. We use then as the backbone of a life trying to defend something. You use them as a punchline.
-A Few Good Men, screenplay by Aaron Sorkin
Sound, but No Fury
Published: September 27, 2008

Making up for a few columns with poor or non-existent Movies With Maureen® segments, Maureen Dowd makes up for it with an extended take on the Aaron Sorkin military courtroom drama. (I wonder what reminded her of that flick. Hmmm….)
The first debate seemed like the perfect moment for Barack Obama to re-enact the Code Red courtroom scene from “A Few Good Men,” to slide under John McCain’s skin and irritate until he goaded McCain into doing exactly what he really wanted to do: tell off the whippersnapper who’d never bled for his country.
Tom Cruise’s trick in that movie was to make Colonel Nathan Jessup, played by Jack Nicholson, lose his cool and blow up. But the usually hot-headed McCain refused to play his role.
It would have been easy for smarty-pants Obama to get in the face of the temperamental older guy, just as Tom Cruise did with Jack Nicholson, to push him into erupting into some version of that climactic speech, like, “Deep down, in places you don’t talk about at your fancy faculty club, you want me on that wall, you need me on that wall.”
Dowd says that McCain kept his cool despite the incoherent ramblings of his running mate. Sarah Palin has been kept under such tight wraps that Dowd compares her to another famous recluse.
Once Garbo began to speak, and people realized that Palin had a few key lacunae in her understanding of the globe and even of her running mate’s record, the myth of the Alaska superwoman continued to unravel.
And Maureen is repeating her Crossword Clues Of The Week®. “Lacunae” was used back in July when it was Obama that wanted to cover up any gaps in his judgment. The runner-up Crossword Clue for this week is “bête noire” (meaning nemesis from the French for “black beast”), which shows up in this slam at Dubya:
The president, who is so insecure that he could only choose a vice president he knew would never hold his title, and so insecure that he needs proof of presidency emblazoned everywhere, even riding a Trek bike with the presidential seal affixed, was suddenly faced with his bête noire: sitting at a table in the White House with the two men who want his job, either of whom would do a better job, given that nearly everyone in the country thinks things are going horribly.
Mountain Bike One was described in a Washington Post article thusly:
The Trek has "United States of America" painted in white letters across the blue top tube, and a 2-inch presidential seal affixed to both sides of the head tube.
Maureen sees Bush’s preoccupation with biking as a metaphor for his inattention to the business of state, by citing four examples where Dubya had been warned, but did nothing.
The Republicans had a lot to answer for. The Bush administration had been warned about Osama bin Laden attacking and did nothing. It had been warned that there would be a civil war and insurgency if it attacked Iraq. It had been warned that Katrina was coming. It had been warned that the country’s financial casinos were courting disaster.

W. biked through all those eves of destruction.
She also mentioned him biking off a cliff in her previous column as well which mentioned the End of Days, tying into the "eve of destruction" apocalyptic image as well (not to mention a nasty Barry McGuire tune cootie). That earlier column also took some swipes at Nobel Prize winning bomber Henry Kissinger. McCain’s mention of Dr. K in the debate allows Dowd to take one more shot.
And who cares what Henry Kissinger thinks? He was wrong 35 years ago, and it’s only gotten worse since then.
Maureen calls the debate a draw on points since Obama failed to bait the bear sufficiently.
Obama did a poor job of getting under McCain’s skin. Or maybe McCain did an exceptional job of not letting Obama get under his skin. McCain nattered about earmarks and Obama ran out of gas.
But while McCain-Obama should have been the main event, she holds out for a better fight in the undercard match.
We’re left waiting for a knockout debate. On to Palin-Biden.
We need a catchy name for this matchup. Perhaps The Beauty Queen versus the Plagiarizing Pugilist. We’ll be watching.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Maureen at Angelo State

Maureen Dowd made one of her rare public appearances Thursday at Angelo State University in Texas. She talked to a mixture of journalism and government students.

On the importance of newspapers as primary sources she said:

"The nightly news still takes its cues from The New York Times and the Washington Post."
More quips and quotes are available here.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Doctor K and Mayor Moose

"Let the end of days come, but may I not live to see them", because they will be filled with so much conflict and suffering."
-The Talmud.
Park Avenue Diplomacy
Published: September 23, 2008

Maureen Dowd doesn’t think much of Henry Kissinger. Here is her description of him in her latest column:
How the mighty 85-year-old Henry the K has fallen from his days chasing Jill St. John and running the world to his hour briefing of a 44-year-old Wasilla hockey mom who may end up running the world.
But she has been this dismissive of Doctor Death and his favorite Bond Girl since at least 2002:
When he was dating Jill St. John and Liv Ullmann and preaching that power is an aphrodisiac, he even coyly called himself ''a secret swinger.''

In Walter Isaacson's biography, ''Kissinger,'' the same words cascade: ''deceitful,'' ''disingenuous,'' ''paranoid,'' ''insecure,'' ''temper tantrum,'' ''flatterer,'' ''two-faced'' and ''secretive.''
Tiffany Case made another appearance in this 2007 column with a fictional quote giving advice to Dubya:
Henry Kissinger oils his way across the floor. “Mr. President,” he rumbles through the door, “it’s not so bad bungling a war. I got to date Jill St. John.”
Dowd seems overly hard on the former Batman villainess, when she could also pick on other former Henry the Kiss flames like Marlo Thomas or Candace Bergen. And part of Dowd’s point is how the mighty have fallen.
I don’t agree with those muttering darkly that the picture of Gov. Sarah Palin with a perky smile and shapely gams posing with a pleased Henry Kissinger, famous for calling power the ultimate aphrodisiac, is a sign of the apocalypse.

It isn’t even a sign of the apocalipstick.
Maureen now holds the record for the worst Palin lipstick pun put to print, a pretty noteworthy accomplishment. The point was to point out Palin’s potential preoccupation with Pentecostal preaching.
Governor Palin knows a lot about the End of Days from her years at the Pentecostal Wasilla Assembly of God, which had preached (after a war in the Middle East about light vanquishing darkness) that Alaska would be a shelter for Rapturous “saved” Christians at the end of times when they ascend to heaven.
“Rapturous” being yet another pun, this time on the Christian vision of the apocalypse from the Book of Revelations.

But Dowd doesn’t just pillar Palin, she saves enough scorn for Dubya to attempt a Dowdversion® and mix a metaphor, neither very successfully.
After losing its moral superiority abroad with phony evidence for attacking Iraq, the U.S. has now lost its moral superiority in the financial arena. Once more, W. took the ball, carried it off the cliff and went biking.
Maureen finishes up with Bill Clinton hypothesizing in advance why Palin might help McCain win. After all, the Big Dog is a leading authority on the attractiveness of rural women with big hair.
“I come from Arkansas. I get why she is hot out there,” he said authoritatively, adding: “People look at her, and they say, ‘All those kids. Something that happens in everybody’s family. I’m glad she loves her daughter and she’s not ashamed of her. Glad that girl’s going around with her boyfriend. Glad they’re going to get married.’"
She sees that as part of the continuing Subtle Sabotage Strategy of the Clintons accusing Bill of...
... still sulking and plotting for 2012.
And the Clintons making another run in 2012 would be a sign of the Apocalypse.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

West Winging It

Seeking a President Who Gives Goose Bumps? So’s Obama.
Published: September 20, 2008

In the lasted twist on the trademarked MoDo Faux Conversations, Barack Obama gets a pep talk from fictional former president Jeb Bartlet. The column is full of the similarly trademarked Sorkin cross-talk. You can almost picture Martin Sheen and Dulé Hill (as Barack) walking and talking across the West Wing set. Take this example:

BARTLET I’m a fictional president. You’re dreaming right now, Senator.

OBAMA I’m asleep?

BARTLET Yes, and you’re losing a ton of white women.

OBAMA Yes, sir.

BARTLET I mean tons.

OBAMA I understand.

BARTLET I didn’t even think there were that many white women.

OBAMA I see the numbers, sir. What do they want from me?

BARTLET I’ve been married to a white woman for 40 years and I still don’t know what she wants from me.
It may indeed be real Sorkin dialog. Maureen disingenuously muddies the water with this set-up.
I called the “West Wing” creator Aaron Sorkin (yes, truly) to get a read-out of the meeting.
The last time Dowd had a guest/ghost writer it was Stephen Colbert (well, his staff at least) and it became her most popular column of the year. And Maureen would definitely have Sorkin’s phone number in her Rolodex, even if she sometimes gets his e-mail mixed up. At least according to the New York Post (via New York magazine)

Dowd’s other well-documented romance was with The West Wing creator Aaron Sorkin. In May 2001, the New York Post reported that Dowd had accidentally sent “randy” e-mails intended for Aaron Sorkin to her colleague Andrew Ross Sorkin. “That’s a real cautionary tale of e-mail,” she says. “I had only met him; I didn’t really know him and I was just trying to kind of give him tidbits of political things. So I just would e-mail him funny things, and that one was a joke that some guys at a bar said, but when it appeared in the New York Post it was as if I were saying it. Which was so embarrassing, because it was just such a dumb line, and so at least if they were going to catch you with some flirtatious e-mail—which we weren’t doing at that point—you’d like it to be, like, a cool kind of line. And it was also embarrassing because I think he was married then.”
And she later had to make an embarrassing confession when a thinly-veiled Dowdish character made it into a West Wing script recounted here by LA Times gossip columnist Elizabeth Snead:
Sorkin admitted he often thought of Dowd while writing witty banter for actresses. And he did tell a funny, if slightly embarrassing, shoe fetish tale about Dowd, whom he met during the first season of "The West Wing" when he was shooting scenes in Washington, D.C.

“I wrote an off-screen character who was a powerful, highly feared female columnist for the New York Times. One of the White House staffers had inadvertently made a joke about her shoes and was afraid that the administration was going to suffer if he didn’t apologize.”

To thank Dowd for being “a good sport” about the thinly veiled reference, Sorkin sent her a slew of expensive shoes from Barneys the day the show aired.

“She liked them a lot,” recalled Sorkin. “But she told me that because she sometimes covers Hollywood in her column, to accept the gift was unethical. But she didn’t give back the shoes. What she has done, and this was five or six years ago, is, every once in a while, she will just give me cash. Forty, sixty, one hundred dollars … It’s not clear to me how giving me cash makes the ethical picture less murky, but it was terribly important to Maureen that this be done right and this is her version. She just gives me cash.”

“It’s gonna take me to the year 2030 to pay off those shoes,” confessed Dowd, still smiling, albeit not quite as sweetly.
That ties into an earlier anecdote where Sorkin fishes for a compliment.
Sorkin tried out an old joke. “You are the most respected, revered columnist in the country and you have a Pulitizer Prize and you dated me for a while. What was that like?”

"I asked you in the green room not to mention that," replied Dowd, smiling through gritted teeth. "It was fantastic, of course."
And the column was fantastic as a call to arms for Obama to get on message and go on the attack. I only have to wonder what side of the designer shoe debit ledger that a guest column script goes onto.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Defiant Ones

The Alpha Dogs Bark
Published: September 19, 2008

Normally, here at Dowd Central, we don't pay a lot of attention to other New York Times columnists unless Maureen is on vacation or battling the flu on Air Force One. Why settle for hamburger when you can smell the steak sizzling? But today's column by Gail Collins has a pitch perfect Movies With Maureen® metaphor in it.

The Republicans have discovered that McCain can’t draw a crowd without Palin, and the dangers of letting her float off by herself are apparent. So the two are manacled together these days like Tony Curtis and Sidney Poitier in that old escape-from-a-chain-gang movie.

Truly worthy of the master. Maureen must be proud. I just want to know which is Tony and which is Sidney.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Maureen Among The Moose

You know, I imagine there's only one thing that's been in as many different hotel rooms as I have: the Gideon Bible. Don't tangle with me on the Good Book. I must've read it through at least a dozen times.
-Sky Masterson, Guys and Dolls
‘Barbies for War!’
Published: September 16, 2008

Maureen Dowd is still taking it upon herself to emphasize Sarah Palin’s excruciatingly evident lack of foreign policy expertise.
The Wall Street Journal reported that McCain is taking Palin to the U.N. General Assembly next week so she can shake hands with some heads of state. You can’t contract foreign policy experience like a rhinovirus. To paraphrase the sniffly Adelaide in “Guys and Dolls,” a poy-son could develop a cold war.
Cold sore is more like it. Dowd put one her traveling boots (go-go or Army, it doesn’t matter which) to get a feel for the Artic atmosphere that spawned the Palin-nomena. She is so stupefied to be among the hoi polloi that she resorts to serial Alliteration Alerts®:
I sautéed myself in Sarahville last week.

I wandered through the Wal-Mart, which seemed almost as large as Wasilla, a town that is a soulless strip mall without sidewalks set beside a soulful mountain and lake.
In the midst of that, she even pulls off the soulless strip mall/soulful mountain Dowdversion®. Maureen’s anthropological expedition takes her to a Wal-Mart and an alliterative CaffeinatedBeverageEmporium named after the local large cold weather ruminant.
I had many “Sarahs,” as her favorite skinny white mocha is now called, at the Mocha Moose. “I’ve seen her at 4 a.m. with no makeup,” said manager Karena Forster, “and she’s just as beautiful.”
Skinny white mocha,” indeed. Now there is a metaphor just begging to be set free. Speaking of freedom, Palin’s religious establishments of choice believe that sexuality is a choice. And offers help to those that have made bad ones.
In Anchorage Saturday, I went by a conference conducted by James Dobson’s Focus on the Family and supported by Sarah’s current church, the Wasilla Bible Church, about how to help gays and lesbians “journey out” of same-sex attraction.
And in her talks with tattooed former teenage mothers and ex-gay evangelicals, she comes across a Fairbanks educator that gives what may or may not be a compliment.
R. D. Levno, a retired school principal, flew in from Fairbanks. “She’s a child, inexperienced and simplistic,” she said of Sarah. “It’s taking us back to junior high school. She’s one of the popular girls, but one of the mean girls. She is seductive, but she is invented.”
And we know what happens to Mean Girls in the movies. With Maureen tracking her back to her home turf, Sarah is going to learn that in trying to be the Queen Bee, she isn't in the bush leagues anymore.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Sarah, Palin and Tall

Bering Straight Talk
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.

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.
To show off her improved intelligence, she rushes right into a Dowdversion™, contrasting brain cramps with Palin’s tough talk about Georgia.
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.

Friday, September 12, 2008

BlogWatch: Hoax Column Still Circulating

Here at Dowd Central our crack team of DowdWatchers monitor the internet 24/7 for remarks about Maureen Dowd. If the NSA were as atuned to Al Qaeda as we are to Dowd, Bin Laden would be in Gitmo already.

About a week ago we started picking up chatter relating to the hoax July 29 column where Dowd supposedly claims that Barack Obama is getting anonymous donations from foreign nationals. Nevermind that it is McCain that has connections to shady foreign moneybags like the Rothschilds or Clinton Burkling buddy and Anne Hathaway humping con-man Raffaello Follieri. But I digress.

Ever vigilant of Dowd's precious reputation, when I see this smear emerge from the round-robin e-mail chains and difficult-to-register-for forums out into an actual blog, I try to leave a comment pointing out that it is an unsubstantiated hoax and they should do just a modicum of research before spreading such slander.

For example, Fr. Ryan Humphries of the Catholic Underground quickly removed the article forn his otherwise fascinating Tumblr page but took me to task for being so pompous. But even a more polite tone doesn’t always work. Desert Conservative prefaced a re-posting of the hoax with this:

Get ready, we will have a Muslim in the White House!!!
Or why would they send him so much money!!!
$200 million!!!
That blog then went on to highlight the more salacious and ridiculous claims. My rather respectful and polite comment never quite made it through moderation. Clearly, this blogger has no intention of correcting the record.

The hoax column is even working it’s way into the background of genuine news stories. A Chicago Tribune story about an out-of-date news story nearly bankrupting United Airlines included this line:
Just in recent days, the presidential campaign of Barack Obama had to debunk a spurious column falsely linked to New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd that raised questions about the source of Obama's campaign finances.
When the story ran, the spurious column had been debunked for over two months, not recent days, but that is neither here nor there. The point is that this shadow smear campaign continues and some people don’t care what the truth is.

Far more valuable are reactions like this from Dave Lindorf that when he got a pass-along e-mail had this reaction:
Now I could see before reading two paragraphs of the alleged column he forwarded to me that it was not Dowd's acerbic and witty writing style, but I cannot expect most people who don't even read Dowd to know that. Two minutes at the computer, however, and I was easily able to confirm, as anyone could do, that Dowd had never written the article.
He goes to explain what he thinks is really going on.
Why this particular campaign dirty trick--and with Karl Rove in the back seat of the McCain campaign bus I have no doubt that it originated in the bowels of that campaign, which has not disavowed it--works, and why the many other vile efforts, like the latest shameful official McCain TV ad claiming that Obama backs "sex education for kindergartners," work is that many otherwise decent Americans like my uncle first of all are primed to believe such crap by a deep-seated prejudice against people of color, and secondly that the corporate media which are supposed to be informing us are afraid to call out a mainstream political candidate for lying and deceiving the public.
I couldn’t agree more. The real problem is that so many people don’t bother to research of verify these scurrilous claims, particularly if they are spread under the false banner of Liberal Media Icon (sic) Maureen Dowd. Actually public appearances of this hoax are just the tip of the iceberg. I know from my traffic reports that this smear got a new breath of life just after the Republican convention. I have no idea by whom, but someone enjoys seeing this lie perpetuate and fester.

Please stop it if you can. Follow the example of the writer of the widowswalk blog who ran across some people that had been duped by the e-mail:
I talked with about 8 households, and left calling cards at the rest. Only one household was pro-McCain. Or perhaps the better description would be “anti-Obama.” My impression was there was a latent racism. The issue the two women had siezed upon was a hoax news column, purportedly written by Maureen Dowd, saying that Obama was getting $200M from “the Arabs” for his campaign. The article is a racist smear and a lie, of course. I printed out the Snopes refutation for them, and will probably mail it to them. Doubt it will change hearts and minds.
Doing so probably won’t change the minds of those already viscerally opposed to Obama, but at least it removes a rationalization from them and spreads the truth, a hard to find commodity in this election.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Kodiak Flower Girl

My Fair Veep
Published: September 9, 2008

The Sarah Palin nomination has opened new horizons for Maureen Dowd and her weekly Movies With Maureen® column. Last week the Alaskan Gov was Miss Congeniality (and isn’t that movie just Pygmalion with Benjamin Bratt and beauty pageants?); this week it’s the Rex Harrison/Audrey Hepburn classic My Fair Lady.

I hope John McCain doesn’t throw his slippers at Sarah Palin’s head or get as acerbic as Henry Higgins did with Eliza Doolittle when she did not learn quickly enough. McCain’s Pygmalion has to be careful, because his Galatea might be armed with more than a sharp tongue.
And just to be a little highbrow and show off her way around Bullfinch’s, she throws out the Greek mythological inspirations. I’m not sure why Geraldine Ferraro doesn’t count (not as inexperienced or young perhaps), but Dowd sees this nomination and the subsequent crash candidacy class as historic.
For the first time in American history, we have a “My Fair Lady” moment, as teams of experts bustle around the most famous woman in politics, intensely coaching her for her big moment at the ball — her first unscripted interview here this week with ABC News’s Charlie Gibson.
Then Dowd delightfully mixes up a barnyard metaphor.
She’s already shown that she can shoot the pig, put lipstick on it, bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan.
This one sentence works on three levels. Palin compared herself to a hunting hockey mom that's a pit bull with lipstick. The popular phrase “put some lipstick on that pig” means to try to hide something ugly with a little window dressing. And finally, the "bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan" is from the proto-feminist anthem (and Enjoli commercial) “I’m A Woman.” Maureen managed to use every part of that metaphor except the squeal.

Dowd, like the Mean Girls with “Fetch”, keeps trying to make “Palinistas” happen, this time alliterating it with "posse".
McCain vetters, who are belatedly doing their job checking to see if Palin is a qualified White House contender and doing their best to shut down Troopergate and assembling a “truth squad” posse of Palinistas to rebut any criticism and push back any prying reporters; and journalists — from Sydney to Washington — who are here to draw back the curtain on the shiny reformer image that the McCain camp has conjured for their political ingénue and see what’s behind it.
And just in case My Fair Lady isn’t enough, she throws in a Wizard of Oz call out.

The rest of the column is a suggested list of topics for Chuckie G to grill Palin on in an interview and covers the range of PalinIssues such as her creative expense accounting, her free spending administrations, the reversal of her position on “the bridge to nowhere”, her fundamentalist evolution-doubting beliefs, and of course, Troopergate and the related abuse of power. Maureen does sometimes get just a little too obscure. For example:
Does she want a federal ban on trans fat in restaurants and a ban on abortion and Harry Potter? And which books exactly would have landed on the literature bonfire if she had had her way with that Wasilla librarian?
While the abortion and Harry Potter bit combines her extreme pro-life position and her clumsy attempt to censor the local library, I have no idea where the trans-fat call-out comes from. There must have been some obscure quote I missed, or it could just be a metaphor taken too far. And the book burning is a good piece of witchy Alliteration Alert®.

Dowd's penultimate rhetorical question combines in just ten words the image of Palin as a snake-handling religious nut with an environment-be-damned hunting machine by Dowdverting on the word “tongues.”
Does she talk in tongues or just eat caribou tongues?
But back to the Eliza Doolittle metaphor, the tale of an older cynical man taking a young lady under his wing always backfires because once the woman is on her own, she eclipses her mentor in the public eye. Or, to look at it another way, in the film version, Audrey Hepburns singing was dubbed in by another actress. Who is pulling the strings on this made for the media manufactured maverick? Let the show begin.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Cat Fight Of The Century

Norm Gunderson: [rubbing Margie's pregnant stomach] Two more months.
Marge Gunderson: [smiling] Two more months.
-Fargo (last lines)
Clash of the Titans
Published: September 6, 2008

Maureen Dowd misses Hillary Clinton. As much as she despised the pantsuited one, she wishes she was around to take Sarah Palin down a notch.
If Barack Obama had chosen Hillary Clinton as his running mate, we would now be looking forward to the greatest night in the history of American politics: the Oct. 2 vice presidential debate between Ma Barker and Sarah Barracuda.
In Dowd’s wrestling ring of Rude Names®, Ma Barker is the WSJ nickname that Dowd used back in March. Barracuda is the moniker Palin gained in her hoops days. Maureen sizes up the two hypothetical opponents.
The two women are both aggressive pols who take disagreement personally, accruing a body count of rivals, and who have been known to exaggerate their accomplishments. But in ideological terms, the gun-toting hockey mom and the shot-swilling Warrior Queen of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pantsuits are opposites.
To become governor, Palin defeated an incumbent Republican in the primary and then took on an ex-governor to take the governor’s mansion. Hillary’s enemies include, well, let’s not even get started. Ironically, it’s the now mythical Estonian vodka contest with McCain that gives Clinton her alcohol imbibing vibe. And we mix a Royalty Metaphor® with Hillary’s sartorial salute to her PUMAs.

Since Hillary is not on the ticket, Dowd has fantasized a scenario where McCain wins the 2008 election, Palin forces him to step aside and she takes on Hillary in the 2012 race. This is all to set up a trademarked DowdDebate™ where she gets to put all her catty cut-downs in the mouths of her characters. This faux-bate is full of all sorts of trivia and asides so hang on tight because we are going to go fast.
PALIN: Before we start, Hillary, I want to honor your achievement in 2008. You nicked the glass ceiling. But in the end, as my friend Cheryl Metiva from Wasilla Bible Church said, I was more of a woman and more of a man than you, so I was the one who actually busted up the old boys’ club. Sorry I called you a whiner about sexism. That was before I realized how handy the victim card can be against the press wolves. In Alaska, we just gun down wolves from the air.
Pretty head-spinning when the head of the Wasilla Chamber of Commerce is a national figure. Metiva did give Palin that gender-bending compliment, but Maureen adds the boys club crack. And Dowd connects the real practice of aerial wolf hunting with the metaphorical sexists in the press.

We get a brief reprise of the Subtle Sabotage Strategy®, but the caged bird metaphor is all Dowd:
CLINTON: I do give you and John credit, Sarah, for following my blueprint to reveal Obama as all cage, no bird. {snip}

PALIN: {snip} While you got to go to your snooty Wellesley, I had to switch colleges six times in six years. While you got to go to Yale Law, I had to enter beauty contests and turn my back to judges in a bathing suit to get scholarship money.
And this is a double cheap shot by Dowd, dredging up Palin’s presumably pallid academic career and her 1984 second runner-up placing in Miss Alaska. As if journalism majors and beauty queens can’t become president.

In another two-fer, Maureen points out that Palin supports creationism and sports pricy glasses worthy of being seen with McCain’s Ferragamos.
CLINTON: I’ve got a little news flash for you, Annie Oakley. Dinosaurs disappeared a lot longer than 4,000 years ago. I admit you’ve had a profound influence on America, and I’m not just talking about all the women wearing up-dos and rimless titanium $375 Kazuo Kawasaki designer frames.
And then Dowd’s Sock Puppet Hillary really lays into Palin. In this hypothetical future, McCain has edged us towards a dystopia of The Handmaid’s Tale proportions.
CLINTON: You said you wanted to help women, but you’ve only hurt them with your silly mantra that women can have it all if they just work harder and pray harder. You put Medicare on eBay. You cut funding for special-needs children. The Dobson Supreme Court has outlawed abortion, evolution and gun control. With sex education banned, baby bumps in high schools are rampant. And the head of your Abstinence Outreach Program, Levi Johnston, has failed to force any other teenage fathers to marry their prom dates.
Dowd is pointing out that this election will have a major impact on major wedge issues such as the Supreme Court and reproductive rights. And while doing so, she slips in a side reference to the discredited tale of selling the state jet on eBay and a snide reference to Palin’s future son-in-law. Not stopping at the social issues, Maureen also points out that oil interests will be well represented in a McCain/Palin administration. But she saves the last shot for Fake Future Hillary:
CLINTON: Adios, Sister Sarah. You’re tough, but I’ve been tougher longer. Slide out of town on that oil slick you made on the Mall. And take that Grizzly throw with you.
There really is a genuine bearskin in the Alaska Oval Office. By giving Clinton the last word, Dowd is declaring war. Maureen Dowd has a new target and she is going to spend the next two months shooting Barracuda in a barrel.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Reality Check

Too Much Life?
Published: September 2, 2008

Subtlety is not one of Maureen Dowd’s strong suits, but she seems to be trying to break it to the Republicans as gently as she can.

For many years, reality was out of vogue with Republicans. {snip} Now reality, in all its messy, crazy, funky glory, has flooded the party, in the comely, crackling form of Sarah Palin.
One good thing about the storm that raged through the blogosphere over the long weekend is that it did a lot of the heavy lifting for Dowd as far as coming up with silly names for things.
Only four days into her reign as John McCain’s “soul mate,” or “Trophy Vice,” as some bloggers are calling her, on the ticket known as “Maverick Squared,” Palin, the governor of Alaska, has already accrued two gates (Troopergate and Broken-watergate), a lawyer (for Troopergate), a future son-in-law named Levi (a high school ice hockey player, described by New York magazine as “sex on skates”), and a National Enquirer headline about the “Teen Prego Crisis” with 17-year-old daughter Bristol.

Sarah Palin's Face Combined with Dan Quayle -

And here is where the subtle part comes in. She is going to compare the Palin selection to the two worst vice-presidential nominee fiascos in recent history. First up is another pretty boy picked for his inexperience and youthful demeanor.
It seems like a long time since Vice President Dan Quayle denounced Murphy Brown for having a baby out of wedlock, saying that this “poverty of values” contributed to poverty in the inner city, and perhaps even to the Los Angeles riots. It also seems like a long time — and another McCain ago — that Republicans supporting W. smeared the old John McCain by spreading rumors that he had fathered an illegitimate black child.
She is setting up the Republicans in a glass house. Some will try to make lemonade out of the lemons they have been dealt.
As more and more titillating details spill out about the Palins, Republicans riposte by simply arguing that things like Todd’s old D.U.I. arrest or Sarah’s messy family vengeance story will just let them relate better to average Americans — unlike the lofty Obamas.

“If this doesn’t resonate with every woman in America, I’ll eat my hat,” Bill Noll, an Alaska delegate whose daughter got pregnant at a young age and kept the baby, told The Times’s Ashley Parker.

Sarah Palin and Geraldine Ferraro Faces Combined Together -

But all this post-announcement hand-wringing reminds Maureen of another pioneering woman plucked out of obscurity.
When you make a gimmicky pick of an unknown for vice president, without proper vetting, there’s bound to be a sticky press conference sooner or later. I watched it happen with Ferraro and then with Quayle, and I watched Mondale and Poppy Bush curdle with embarrassment but plow through.
Dowd splits the blame for these fiascos between the starry-eyed nominees and the incompetent nominators.
The political unknowns, of course, want that tantalizing brass ring, so they’re not always completely forthcoming about their skeletons, if they’re lucky enough to be ineptly vetted. This is ironic, since the nominee who gets blindsided with these crises — Did McCain really know that this Palin reality show was about to pop and swallow his convention — is presenting them to voters as the most trustworthy people to inherit the nuclear codes.
Dowd asserts that Ferraro set women seeking the highest office back a couple of decades.
Because Ferraro grabbed at the chance, without revealing to Mondale’s incompetent vetting team how damaging some of her husband’s financial imbroglios could be, she went from being a female icon to part of the reason it’s taken a quarter-century for another party to take a chance on a woman.
Finally, she compares the McCain camp to another electoral loser.
Hillary cried sexism to cover up her incompetent management of her campaign, and now Republicans have picked up that trick. But when you use sexism as an across-the-board shield for any legitimate question, you only hurt women. And that’s just another splash of reality.
And that reality is not pretty. By Dowd standards, Maureen was taking it pretty easy on Governor Palin, but let’s review the adjectives used at the vetters: gimmicky, sticky, ineptly, incompetent (twice). These are not the words associated with campaigns that wins the ultimate reality show.