Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sanford's Roaming Holiday

Genius in the Bottle
Published: June 27, 2009

Maureen Dowd is practically cackling with Schadenfreude as she dissects the Mark Sanford scandal with both an Alliteration Alert™ and a Crossword Clue© combined.

In a weepy, gothic unraveling, the South Carolina governor gave a press conference illustrating how smitten he was, not only with his Argentine amante, but with his own tenderness, his own pathos and his own feminine side.
Her use of 'amante' for 'lover' also foreshadows her comparisons to come.

She also wastes no time getting right to her Movies With Maureen® Moment, a romcom from 2006, proving that Dowd has been to the theater since Audrey Hepburn died. (She does manage to namecheck Roman Holiday before the end of the column.)
He wanted to get his girlfriend a DVD of the movie “The Holiday,” presumably the Cameron Diaz-Kate Winslet chick flick about two women, one from L.A. and one from England, who trade homes and lives.
And Maureen is often called emasculating but it rarely gets as obvious as this:
He got into trouble as a man and tried to get out as a woman.
That rhetorical flourish is her patented Dowdversion® where she directly compares and contrasts two things using similar phrasing. The entire rest of the column is one long Dowdversion as she contrasts Sanford's parsimonious public political image with his Latin lover (or at least Latin-loving) alter ego who she dubs Marco.

penny-pinching millionaire Mark, who used to sleep on a futon in his Congressional office and once treated two congressmen to movie refreshments by bringing back a Coke and three straws.Marco, international man of mystery and suave god of sex and tango.
Mark was the self-righteous, Bible-thumping prig who pressed for Bill Clinton’s impeachment Marco was the un-self-conscious Lothario, canoodling with Maria in Buenos Aires
Mark is a conservative railing against sinners; Marco sins liberally.
Mark opposes gay marriage as a threat to traditional marriage. Marco thinks nothing of risking his own traditional marriage, and celebrates transgressive relationships.
Mark is so frugal for the taxpayers that he made his staffers use both sides of Post-it notes and index cards...Marco is a sly scamp who found a sneaky way to make South Carolina taxpayers pay for a south-of-the-border romp with his mistress.
Mark is so selfish he tried to enhance his presidential chances by resisting South Carolina’s share of President Obama’s $787 billion stimulus package, callously giving the back of his hand to the suffering state’s most vulnerable — the jobless and poor and black students.Marco is generous, promising to send a memento of affection that Maria wants to keep by her bed.
Mark hates lying. As he said of Bill’s dalliance with Monica, “If you undermine trust in our system, you undermine everything.”Marco lies with brio, misleading his family, his lieutenant governor, his staff and his state about his whereabouts, even packing camping equipment to throw off the scent from South America.
Mark, who disdains rascals, agreed that he wouldn’t [skip off to the other woman]. Marco, who is a rascal, skipped off.
Dowd sums up with the reason that Republican sex scandals are so juicy (even though she got her Pulitzer for Clinton's and has covered Edwards' with brio.)
Sanford can be truly humble only if he stops dictating to others, who also have desires and weaknesses, how to behave in their private lives.

The Republican Party will never revive itself until its sanctimonious pantheon — Sanford, Gingrich, Limbaugh, Palin, Ensign, Vitter and hypocrites yet to be exposed — stop being two-faced.
Until then pundits will continue to play the Marco Polo game of catching hypocrites trying to weave and dodge when their transgressions are unmasked.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

All The President's Women

Vice and Spice
Published: June 23, 2009
Warning: Link from picture at right is NSFW

Maureen Dowd made her mark and earned her Pulitzer prying over the peccadilloes of a President that couldn't keep his pants on. With our current president hopelessly squeaky clean (except for his occasional cancer stick, which we will discuss later), she has had to focus overseas for a suitably salacious sex scandal. Previously Dowd has fixated on France's Sarkozy, but now she moves down the boot to Italy with a nice Alliteration Alert™.

Our president is positively monkish compared with Silvio Berlusconi, whose Vesuvial vices spurred a trio of women academics in Italy to write an “Appeal to the First Ladies.” It urges Michelle Obama and other wives of world leaders to boycott next month’s G-8 summit in L’Aquila, Italy, to protest the Italian prime minister’s “sexist” and “offensive” manner toward women.
What's so fun about this one is that even the wronged woman is not exactly in the right, since she is a forme mistress of his.

His wife, Veronica Lario, a former actress who met him while she was starring topless in “The Magnificent Cuckold” and who is now divorcing him, has operatically upbraided him twice: once two years ago after he had a public flirtation with a TV starlet whom he later appointed as Minister of Equal Opportunities; and again last month when Lario charged her randy hubby with “consorting with minors” after he went to the 18th birthday party of a model and gave her a diamond and gold necklace.

Said birthday girl was one Noemi Letizia. In addition to the 6,000 euro necklace, he gave her a rather creepy souvenir according to a gossip site.
Silvio Berlusconi, 72, also signed a photograph of himself for Noemi Letizia as well as a book in which he had written a goosebumps-raising dedication to her saying: ‘To my little Noemi, my little graphic artist, your little daddy teacher.”
It takes more than some intergenerational hanky-panky to qualify as a scandal in Italy, so it helps that there are call girls to check out.

And a comely 23-year-old starlet named Barbara Montereale told La Repubblica this week that she got paid by a hospital equipment vendor for going to the villa in January — an incident now under police investigation.
In her interview (available on YouTube for those of you that speak Italian or just like to watch women speak Italian) she names another woman wishing to exchange favors.

She claimed she went with another girl, an “escort” named Patrizia D’Addario, who told her that she had had sex with the 72-year-old prime minister and asked for a favor about a building project but never got it. Now a disillusioned D’Addario has released a secret recording she made in which Berlusconi’s voice is heard saying: “Go and wait for me in the big bed.”
But even all this salacious detail doesn't get Maureen to 800 words, so in clumsy contrast, she excerpts long transcripts of Barack getting the third degree over his smoking habits. And to make the transition, she employs her latest favorite Crossword Puzzle Clue© (which she helped get on the NYT list of most looked up words).
Given Berlusconi’s louche ways, L’Aquila is a safe place for President Obama to indulge his lingering smoking habit.
Maureen has been on Barry's butt over his butts for at least a year. Instead she suggests a closer venue for the random nic-fit.
It was enough to make a guy sneak out to the Truman balcony for a smoke.
But Dowd did make it through an entire column of scandal (big or imagined) without mentioning The Big Dog once. Perhaps she is on the road to recovery.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Seven In One Blow

Obama’s Fly Move
Published: June 20, 2009

In Maureen Dowd's last column she packed it full of her trademarked alliterative alertness but it was missing her equally famous references to old movies. To compensate, she has used her latest missive on a trivial Obama related news item to pack in as many cinematic Movies With Maureen® moments as possible.

While being interviewed, Obama, annoyed with a fly, swatted at it and killed it. Maureen finds transcendental meaning in it.

And there are others who see a mystical, metaphorical dimension to the way the president nonchalantly lasered in on the meddlesome insect after it ignored his admonition, “Hey, get outta here.” Without even uncrossing his legs or lunging about, the Chill One caught it, crushed it and kicked it aside and then said to Harwood, “Now, where were we?” before returning to his point about regulatory reform.
Jon Stewart, her late night faux news crush, gave her an opening with his reference to the Arnold Schwarzenegger action flick.

“It’s like he’s got one of those Fly Terminator targeting systems in his eyes,” marveled Jon Stewart.
So that allows her to trump it with a call-out to a insect themed comic book movie franchise.
Maybe the president who collected Spider-Man comics as a kid couldn’t resist the age-old face-off with a fly.
Echoing her nickname from the campaign that evokes the Eddie Murphy stinker, she invokes a certain mysticism.
The moment had echoes of parables in which the ordinary one becomes the golden one.
But the most famous filmed fly swatter is the zen master Mr. Miyagi.
In “The Karate Kid,” a teenager whose father has died learns lessons about the body and spirit from his surrogate father and karate teacher, Mr. Miyagi. His lessons are about not going to the dark side, the importance of discipline, and catching flies. “Man who catch fly with chopstick,” Mr. Miyagi says, “accomplish anything.”
This bit was so obvious even Jimmy Fallon found a way to use it.

But for our Maureen, it's not enough to mention one famous fly-swatting scene. While obviously inspired by the Disney Mickey Mouse version, she cleverly disguises it by referencing the original Brothers Grimm version.

In the Grimms’ fairy tale, “The Brave Little Tailor,” a tailor brandishing a rag kills seven flies swarming around his jam-smeared bread. The little man admires his own bravery so much — “For joy his heart wagged like a lamb’s tail” — that he wants the whole world to know of it. So he stitches up a belt for himself embroidered with the legend “Seven at one blow!” and saunters out.
We even get a little Clint Eastwood bravado out of the Flyswatter In Chief.
Then [Obama] solicited more snaps for what Harwood called his “ ‘Make my day’ moment” from his press secretary off camera: “Whaddya think, Gibbs?” After the interview was over, he continued his superfly moves by cleaning up the carcass with a napkin.
But wait! There's more! Having already namechecked Jon Stewart, she gets to also mention her occasional guest writer Stephen Colbert.

The “shocking murder in the White House,” as Stephen Colbert dubbed it, was a small moment. “All they want is to be loved and to feed on our waste,” Jeff “The Fly” Goldblum said in a dry defense of the exoskeletal creatures on the Colbert Report.
Dowd tries to tie it all up with some mumbo jumbo about acheiving agendas, but it's clear she's proud to make as many movie allusions as possible. Perhaps even seven in one blow.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Lettuce Alliterate

Hold the Fries
Published: June 16, 2009

When Maureen Dowd is feeling particularly playful she deploys her debatably daring Alliteration Alerts™. Count the ones in this paragraph.

It was easy to imagine a scenario where the president and his body man, Reggie Love, would have their own early-morning TV show called “Downward Facing Dawn,” coaxing a reluctant nation into a regimen of yoga and yogurt.
And if the yoga pose pun weren't bad enough she spreads another delicate-tessan dollop.
He boosted the business of Ray’s Hell Burger in Arlington, Va., after he took Joe Biden there in a monster motorcade for lunch and ordered a cheeseburger with Dijon mustard (a spicy detail that amused Republicans).
The "mustard/amused" pair is particularly well played. However, it's not just Barack that brings the milkshake to the yard.
Michelle sometimes takes her staff on impromptu lunch trips to Five Guys or other burger and barbeque spots.
But it's not over yet. There is more consonance to come.
Yet maybe when Charlie Gibson and Diane Sawyer come next week to broadcast a special on health care from inside the White House, the president should forgo the photo-op of the grease-stained bovine bag and take the TV stars out for what he really wants and America really needs: some steamed fish with a side of snap peas.
Oh, snap! Oh, please! Or should I say oh, peas!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Pretty President

Can The One Have Fun?
Published: June 9, 2009

Maureen Dowd has returned from her three-week sabbatical and she comes out swinging defending Obama from criticism over taking his wife out to dinner and a show. And she does it with plenty of Alliteration Alerts™:

With two wars and G.M. in bankruptcy proceedings, shouldn’t the president be glued to the grindstone, emulating W.’s gravity when he sacrificed golf in 2003 as the Iraq insurgency spread?
And no good Maureen Dowd column is without a Movies With Maureen® moment:
I loved the “Pretty Woman” romance of the New York tableau, the president, who had not lived an entitled life where he could afford such lavish gestures, throwing off his tie and whisking his wife, in a flirty black cocktail dress, to sip martinis in Manhattan, as Sasha hung over a White House balcony and called out goodbye.
You can almost hear the Roy Orbison in the background.

Another mandatory component of a Dowd column is the Crossword Puzzle Clue©:
[Richard] Wolffe limns what those of us who traveled with Obama could see: He was often grumpy on the campaign.
Choire at The Awl suspects that Maureen Dowd has been abducted and replaced with New York Times book critic Michiko Kakutani because 'limn' is Kakutani's signature style quirk. But Maureen has worked had to make it her own. She used it about a year ago during the campaign, again in context to Barack.
But even as the Republicans limn him as John Kerry, as someone who is too haughty and too “foreign,” Obama is determined not to repeat what Kerry thinks was a big mistake: not having enough money to compete against the Republicans in 2004.
But finally, like a Mortal Kombat character, Dowd has her finishing move. The Dowdversion® is such a powerful rhetorical device that it must be used sparingly. Here she uses it to tie together the criticism of Obama for his stylish escapades against W's briar patch abandonment of golfing.
Date on and tee it up, Mr. President. It’s O.K. if they’re teed off.
And with that Maureen proves that even after an extended absence she can still bring her A game.

He Says It Like It's A Bad Thing

If you were a beleaguered New York Times columnist fighting off mean attacks after inadvertently borrowing the words of another writer (and they were borrowed because she gave them right back), what would be the best way to get back in the good graces of your base? If you answered "Get attacked by Karl Rove" you win the big prize at the pundit carnival booth.

In case you can't play video or if the sight of Satan-spawn Turd Blossom raises your blood pressure to emergency room levels, here is what he had to say:

I think Maureen Dowd is a bitter, twisted, deranged columnist for The New York Times who misses no opportunity to show her disdain for the conservative side of the aisle
He then tells of trying to buy her affections with flowers like she was a cheap whore. Sorry, you gotta do better than that. For Maureen, it's shoes or better to get in her good graces. Just ask Aaron Sorkin.

He then goes on to say:
I admire her writing, but she is a very nasty, snarky person.
And that is what we love about her.

Hat tip to Politico who beat nine million other links to my inbox.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Prickly City

You know you have made it when you are a Scott Stantis punchline.