Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Bitter Morning Brew

Maureen Dowd got woken up at quarter to four to discuss her Sunday column comparing Hillary Clinton favorably to Sarah Palin (which sure counts as faint praise in our book) on MSNBC. Maureen Dowd says:
I love Sarah Palin. I love her more than anyone because as a journalist she is the best story ever.
When asked about Palin's chances in 2012, Maureen thinks that Palin absolutely has a shot at the nomination.
She is the first person to ever fuse politics with reality TV. I think she could absolutely be the nominee. She is sort of playing to people's darker impulses. And that core of the Republican party that is left, that is very bitter, is loving her.
And just like pots and kettles, Maureen can spot bitter a mile away.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Number Three With A Bullet

The new meta-news website Media-ite (which is just as hard to say as it is to spell has a running list of influential media personalities ranked Casey Kasum style. The top 3 are all New York Times columnists with Maureen Dowd running behind stablemates Krugman and Friedman. Here is their blurb on her individual page:

Maureen Dowd (born January 14, 1952) is a Washington D.C.-based columnist for The New York Times. She has worked for the Times since 1983, when she joined as a metropolitan reporter. In 1999, she was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for her series of columns on the Monica Lewinsky scandal.
Then they have a very useless link to Wikipedia for more information. Because I'd never think of looking there.

The algorithm for this dopey horse rating system is highly suspect as it weighs various online metrics like Technorati and BlogBuzz (whatever that is) with things like print circulation and pageviews. And that is where this system falls apart. All the NYT columnists have the same pageviews and circulation which means they are just using the numbers for the Times as a whole for each individual. Lame.

Also, all three of these are widely syndicated and appear in newspapers all over the country, so their circulation numbers should reflect that. That is part of Dowd's influence. She is read widely outside the greater New York area, albeit on a delay as her column gets reprinted around the country.

And the real baffling part of the ratings is that somehow Michelle Malkin snuck her way up to number four. I understand that she is an internet phenom, but her print presence seems vastly overstated. Media-ite lists a print circulation of 763,530 which sounds wildly improbable. I have never seen her 'column' in a dead trees fishwrap anywhere.

The amazing part of Dowd finishing in the show position is that she does almost no online promotion at all. Her twitter is just links to her latest column, and those are probably produced in the bowels of the NYT online division somehow.

Still, bravo to Maureen for ranking so high. Even if it's only in Media-ite.

(h/t to The Zoo)

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Something Fishy

Sarah’s Secret Diary
Published: July 7, 2009

Today's column is done in faux-Palin speak, a time honored Dowd gimmick guaranteed to keep wingnuts revved up about how Maureen Dowd is jealous and snobby and elitist. Therefore, it's helpful to review the source material to show that if anything Maureen with her innate need for complete sentences and coherent thoughts is actually undershooting the parody potential.

And there a few other pop cultural references to be illustrated.

I posed for a cheesecake shot in Runner’s World with short-shorts and a crumpled American flag that’s destined to be on the bedroom wall of every conservative 12-year-old boy. It’s the metaphor, stupid! Heck yeah, I’m running! As I learned when I was a beauty contestant — flags and gams show you it’s about country.

And before you say anything though about the glam shots of me stretching and preening on the waterfront in my cute running outfits, don’t bother. That would be a sexist double standard.

It’s just like when Obama, the One Who Must Be Obeyed, said his family was off-limits so everyone left them alone. But they never left mine alone. Thank goodness for that though because we hate being out of the limelight! It was a blast to see Bristol with my grandbaby Tripp on the cover of People as the ambassadress of abstinence!

But Maureen, through Fake Palin, knows what is really driving Sarah. Caribou Barbie has eyes fixed on an bigger race.
It’s about me running the country.

It’s about me running.

It’s about me.
The game Dowd is playing is that by posing phony Palin as a presidential hopeful it might force Sarah into some sort of non-denial that can be used against her latter. But then Maureen falls into wishful thinking.
The media doesn’t get Sarah Palin. I hear planes buzzing. Oh, no!! Have they all left??
If only we could.

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Drudge Attack

It's a pretty poorly kept secret that Maureen Dowd's Sunday columns are often available late on Saturday to anyone that bothers to check out the NYT website frequently enough. This sort of advanced investigative journalism led Matt Drudge of his eponymous report to issue the following scoop Saturday afternoon:

Sat Jul 04 2009 14:40:36 ET

NY TIMES Op-Ed Queen Maureen Dowd runs out of adjectives and insults while ripping away at Alaska Governor Sarah Palin in an upcoming Sunday column.

Palin is "one nutty puppy", in the mind of Dowd, newsroom sources tell the DRUDGE REPORT, with "erratic and egoistic behavior".

Dowd spits her holiday barbecue in 800 words, designed for fireworks.

"Exquisite battiness... solipsistic meltdown so strange... incoherent, breathless and prickly... Sarah's country-music melodramas... girlish burbling."

Since the entire column was already available online (since yours truly was also able to get the post up early as well), I'm not sure what was 'developing', but it was enough to drive his minions into action.

I'm not shocked that Drudge took umbrage at a column ridiculing Palin. I'd be more shocked if Dowd hadn't opined about the resigning guv. What was amusing was how quickly Drudge's blogiteriat fell in line and spread his breathless excitement. Much of that brief item was reproduced nearly in full by the following blogs:

Chicago Ray Report (complete with some new-to-me tasteless photoshops)
The Virginian
Red Stater (my new favorite rabid wing nut)
Invincible Armor
Worcester Right
and others

Then, on the Washington Times website, Andrew Breitbart had this assessment:
Misses Dowd, Couric and Fey - Obama's Angels (featuring Joy Behar in the role of "Bosley") - used a potent mix of mockery, snobbery and vitriol to undermine Mrs. Palin's feminist bona fides.

They are what my wife calls "pad throwers," an allusion to the shower room scene in the Stephen King film "Carrie," in which the popular girls throw sanitary napkins and tampons at the film's namesake.
Maureen's one defender on the right is one Liz Trotta who also had not much good to day about Palin, but did have this to say about Dowd's column:
[Maureen Dowd's column] was a well written, funny piece. And, you know, there's one other element here, and I think most writers are afraid to bring it up. They sort of skirt the idea that this is a woman who has used her good looks and her gender to really get ahead in the political world. That's something, of course, the men don't want to admit, and certainly not the women.
(h/t to Freedom Eden for the transcript.)

One recurring theme in the counter-attacks on Dowd is that her single childless life makes her wholly incapable of empathizing with Palin who is presumably putting the needs of family first. It is most bluntly laid out by Scipio:
Poor Maureen can never admit what really drives her batty about Palin. It is so obvious. Dowd has the envy the empty wombed have for the fecund.
In their attack the messenger strategy, the wingnuts are going after Dowd's looks and age, blaming her bitterness on her lack of a spouse and kids, and calling her jealous of Palin's accomplishments. You know, the failed vice-presidential candidate that went to five colleges before getting a degree and has yet to complete a full term of an elected office.

The boomerang attack is noted Rovian tactic and by calling Dowd unhinged, they seem to be subconsciously projecting their fears about the stability of their favored (soon to be) X-GILF. Which only makes Maureen's theory that Palin is one 'nutty puppy' all that more plausible. But I think that most of the knuckle dragging defenders of Sarah are just hoping for a hair-pulling catfight because as Barney Stinson of How I Met Your Mother observes, never break up a a girlfight because you never know if they'll start kissing.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Crazy Town Critters

Now, Sarah’s Folly
Published: July 4, 2009

Maureen Dowd likes to go on little riffs where she puts in as many puns on a theme as she can. Today she has two different trends going based on Sarah Palin's surprise resignation.

Caribou Barbie is one nutty puppy.
As is clear from the example above, in this column she is combining references to mental illness with examples from the animal kingdom. She is clearly trying to pack in as many of each as possible, so let's keep score. With the addition of 'caribou' that gives the critters a 2-1 lead.
Usually we don’t find that exquisite battiness in our leaders until they’ve been battered by sordid scandals like Watergate (Nixon), gnawing problems like Vietnam (L.B.J.), or scary threats like biological terrorism (Cheney).
'Battiness' could go either way, so we will give each side a point there. And while 'gnawing' is often done by mad dogs, it doesn't rise to the level of a full reference.
The White House can drive its inhabitants loopy.
That's a slam-dunk for the crazy category. but then we have another tough call.
As Alaskans settled in to enjoy holiday salmon bakes and the post-solstice thaw, their governor had a solipsistic meltdown so strange it made Sparky Sanford look like a model of stability.
Since 'salmon' isn't used as a metaphor, we are going to disqualify that, but we do give full credit for 'meltdown.'
On the shore of Lake Lucille, with wild fowl honking and the First Dude smiling, with Piper in the foreground and their Piper Cub in the background, the woman who took the Republican Party by storm only 10 months ago gave an incoherent, breathless and prickly stream of consciousness to a small group in her Wasilla yard. Gobsmacked Alaska politicians, Republican big shots, the national press, her brother, the D.C. lawyer who helped create her political action committee and yes, even Fox News, played catch-up.
Here we give the fauna a 'fowl' shot with 'incoherent' scoring on the rebound. No points for 'Cub' since that is an aviation reference and not an avian one. We would love to give 'Fox News' a point, but without an accompanying 'crazy as' it falls short.
She can hunt wolves from the air and field-dress a moose, but she fears being a lame duck? Some brickbats over her ethics and diva turns as John McCain’s running mate, and that dewy skin turns awfully thin.
Then the wildife goes on a hat trick tear with a bonus point coming from 'brickbat'. The crazy side gets a mercy score with 'diva.'
Maybe there’s another red Naughty Monkey high heel to drop — there’s often a hidden twist in Sarah’s country-music melodramas. Or is this a reckless high-speed escape from small-pond Alaska, where her popularity is dropping, to the big time Below?
The primate-named footwear call-out scores as does the 'reckless' remark, but 'small-pond' goes in the basket as well.
Even some conservative analysts admitted that the governor’s move seemed ga-ga before venturing the spin that Palin might be “crazy like a fox,” as Sarah’s original cheerleader, Bill Kristol, put it.
We finally get our 'crazy as a fox' call-out as a quote from the equally unhinged Kristol Meth. Under normal circumstances the use of 'cheerleader' would be worth mentioning as the second sports metaphor of the column, but the other trends are having a barnburner of match.
Why not? Palin/Sanford in 2012, with the slogan: “Save time — we’re already in Crazy Town.”

'Crazy Town' is also a Betty Boop short with this IMDB description:
Betty Boop and Bimbo take a wild streetcar ride to Crazy Town, where birds swim, fish fly, and everthing else reverses normal behavior.
The birds and fishes reference is too oblique to count so this one scores only on 'Crazy'. While that is stretch for a Movies With Maureen moment, the next paragraph is a clear Crossword Clue. That also doubles as an Alliteration Alert.
Palin’s speech is classic casuistry.
.The NYT handy pop-up dictionary defines it as "Specious or excessively subtle reasoning intended to rationalize or mislead" so we will give it to the unhinged side of the column.
Why “milk it,” as she put it, when you can quit it? “Only dead fish go with the flow,” she said, while cold fish can blow out of town.
In another instant replay situation, 'milk' doesn't cut the mustard and 'fish' only scores once.
Sometimes, she explained, if you’re the star, you have to “call an audible and pass the ball” and leave at halftime, “so the team can win” somehow without you.
To round out the column, we get another misplaced sports metaphor, but then Maureen finishes strong.
The musher must jump out of the dogsled when warmer climes call. As Palin’s spokeswoman, Meg Stapleton, says, “The world is literally her oyster.”
And the final score is:
Nutty: 10
Puppy: 14

But the real winners are the voters of Alaska who no longer have to deal with this batshit crazy squirrelly nutjob. Now if only the rest of the country could say the same.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Sex Scandal Survival Tips

Rules of the Wronged
Published: June 30, 2009

With Mark Sanford's serial weepy confession still playing out, Maureen Dowd is offering up advice to the overlooked victim in these scandals, the political wife. Here is an illustrated guide to some of the more salient points.

Stay away from the press conference.

Stoicism at the skunk’s side is overrated and, as Larry Craig’s wife learned, sunglasses don’t help.

The press is not your friend.

If you can’t maintain a dignified Silda Spitzer silence; ... go to Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton or even Deepak Chopra before crying to The A.P. A news wire is not a spiritual adviser.

Keep the kids at home.

Don’t bring the children into it. They suffer enough being the kids of politicians. Don’t trot out the family on “Oprah,” as Elizabeth Edwards did.

Really, keep the kids out of it.

Even if you’re a clever, competent woman, you risk sounding like a stereotypical harridan if you use the kids as a bludgeon and tell the press, as Jenny did: “You would think that a father who didn’t have contact with his children, if he wanted those children, he would toe the line a little bit.”

Stay above the fray.

Don’t trash a mistress, as Hillary and Elizabeth did, as a wacky stalker. No one — except the wife — blames the girlfriend as much as they blame the husband.

Bonus advice to the Other Woman: Keep the cameras in the drawer.

And just when you thought John Edwards could not sink any lower, there is news of a sex tape, in which Rielle Hunter shows off her skills not only in videography but pornography.
(See this post for some of her more tasteful filmic efforts.)

And finally:
Make lemonade out of lemons.

Cut your losses and keep going. Don’t let yourself get dragged into his drama or your reputation may follow his down the well. Hillary refused to let that happen. She salvaged her long investment in Bill Clinton and turned a profit when she became a senator.

There you have them, Maureen Dowd's advice to the wronged. Because two wrongs don't make a right, but do make a delightfully catty op-ed column.