Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Maureen Dowd is a Corrupt Televangelist (JM)

A Flawed Feminist Test

Let me guess, more anti-Hillary screed from the Op-Ed section that is beginning to sound as if it is written by Rush Limbaugh.



Russell Berman, a young reporter for The New York Sun, trailed Bill Clinton around Maryland all day Sunday. The former president was on his best behavior, irritating the smattering of press.

This whole debacle, this is your fault. Let’s be fair, Hillary didn’t run a great campaign, but you want to know why she looks so terrible. It is you, Maureen Dowd, and I bet you’re proud of yourself.

After Bill’s last speech at Leisure World retirement community in Silver Spring, Berman interviewed two women in the audience.

Elaine Sirkis, 77, an Obama supporter, confided that she just isn’t sure she’s ready for a woman president. Betty Conway, 83, a Hillary supporter, confided that she just isn’t sure she’s ready for a black president.

As Conway walked away, Sirkis smiled sheepishly. “I’m sorry,” she told Berman sweetly about her friend. “She’s a bigot.”

Two reasons you are a terrible journalist: a) This isn’t even your own reporting, you are quoting someone else’s reporting. You have an incredibly budget that is used to fly you anywhere you want and an absurd salary and you are basing your column off of someone else’s reporting; b) You have basically just made two elderly women look like terrible people in the New York Times to make no point whatsoever. I mean serious, what a terrible, terrible thing you just did. I really, truly despise you.

We’re not just in the most vertiginous election of our lives. We’re in another national seminar on gender and race that is teaching us about who we are as we figure out what we want America to be.

Gratuitous use of the word “vertiginous” much? Look at the second sentence. Seriously, it’s actually in like three or four different tenses at once. Also, there is nothing seminar-like about the gender and race issues in this election. I don’t think this has been a learn experience, except maybe as a cautionary tale.

It’s not yet clear which prejudice will infect the presidential contest more — misogyny or racism.

If you have it your way, both.

Many women I talk to, even those who aren’t particularly fond of Hillary, feel empathy for her, knowing that any woman in a world dominated by men has to walk a tightrope between femininity and masculinity, strength and vulnerability.

Don’t pretend this is just about men, this is also about the press. It’s not just Chris Matthews, it’s you too Maureen. Your hateful anti-Clinton columns are no small part of setting the tone for this election.

They see double standards they hate — when male reporters described Hillary’s laugh as “a cackle” or her voice as “grating,” when Rush Limbaugh goes off on her wrinkles or when male pundits seem gleeful to write her political obituary. Several women I know, who argue with their husbands about Hillary, refer with a shudder to the “Kill the Witch” syndrome.

Seriously, you are like the Mark Penn of the misogyny set. Some people have been talking about Barack Obama’s drug use, I am not one of them, but some people have. Some people have been saying horribly abusive things about Hillary, allow me to catalogue them, pretend it’s journalism and then go to be bed at night satisfied that I am still a true member of the cause.

In a webcast, prestidigitator Penn Jillette talks about a joke he has begun telling in his show. He thinks the thunderous reaction it gets from audiences shows that Hillary no longer has a shot.

The joke goes: “Obama is just creaming Hillary. You know, all these primaries, you know. And Hillary says it’s not fair, because they’re being held in February, and February is Black History Month. And unfortunately for Hillary, there’s no White Bitch Month.”

Does ANYBODY read your articles any more? Do you even have editors? Do you even still work for the NYT or do you just run around every Sunday and Wednesday morning and paste the article you just printed from your dot matrix printer in to the space where Nicholas Kristof’s column’s supposed to be? Also, I was about to accuse you of misspelling Penn Jillette’s name, but I was wrong, you see I did a little something called half a second of research before typing this, a practice in which you rarely seem to engage.

Of course, jokes like that — even Jillette admits it’s offensive — are exactly what may give Hillary a shot. When the usually invulnerable Hillary seems vulnerable, many women, even ones who don’t want her to win, cringe at the idea of seeing her publicly humiliated — again.

This is the new line: “Our abuse of Hillary might be helping her win.” This is the weird justification that helps Maureen sleep at night. The truth is that fundamentally poor journalism may or may not help Hillary, but it certainly doesn’t help voters make correct decisions. The job of columnist should be to bring a hint of clarity and contrast to a race between two eminently well-suited individuals, not obfuscate and scandalize. My god, it’s like you work at the Post.

And since women — and some men — tend to be more protective when she is down, it is impossible to rule out a rally, especially if voters start to see Obama, after his eight-contest rout, as that maddening archetypal figure: the glib golden boy who slides through on charm and a smile.

You cannot just make up archetypal figures. Also you LOVE archetypal figures. Every version of any public figure you talk about is basically a bare sketch of an intimation. Or a metaphor about the Real World.

Those close to Hillary say she’s feeling blue. It’s an unbearable twist of fate to spend all those years in the shadow of one Secretariat, only to have another gallop past while you’re plodding toward the finish line.

I am not sure race horses make the best metaphor, particularly not Secretariat who had no actually comparables. Also there aren’t two different Secretariats, also a problem. There are like a trillion sports metaphors or political metaphors you could have used here. Heck, how about, it sucks to be Hillary, it’s like being laserdisc, stuck in the shadow of VHS and then quickly eclipsed by DVDs. Actually, that is a terrible metaphor, but yet still way way better than yours.

I know that the attacks against powerful women can be harsh and personal and unfair, enough to make anyone cry.

Then why do you engage in them?

But Hillary is not the best test case for women. We’ll never know how much of the backlash is because she’s a woman or because she’s this woman or because of the ick factor of returning to the old Clinton dysfunction.

An attack within an attack? Nice. I think you can very clearly separate out comments of all of those stripes. Everything Tweety says on Hardball, that is pure misogyny. You can tell because you can analyze the comments. You want to lump them together, because your only goal is to point out how much people hate Hillary.

While Obama aims to transcend race, Hillary often aims to use gender to her advantage, or to excuse mistakes. In 1994, after her intransigence and secrecy-doomed health care plan, she told The Wall Street Journal that she was “a gender Rorschach test.”

“If somebody has a female boss for the first time, and they’ve never experienced that,” she said, “well, maybe they can’t take out their hostility against her so they turn it on me.”

I think it is perfectly reasonable to discuss gender, gender matters. Obama has not been nearly so shy about race as the MSM would have you believe, it’s just that with all the focus on annihilating Hillary it’s hard to get in much more vitriol.

As a possible first Madame President, Hillary is a flawed science experiment because you can’t take Bill out of the equation. Her story is wrapped up in her marriage, and her marriage is wrapped up in a series of unappetizing compromises, arrangements and dependencies.

Everyone has this. There is no ideal female test case because gender is only one part of identity. By all accounts Hillary is smart and competent. If she loses this it won’t be because of her gender but because of Barack Obama.

Instead of carving out a separate identity for herself, she has become more entwined with Bill. She is running bolstered by his record and his muscle. She touts her experience as first lady, even though her judgment during those years on issue after issue was poor. She says she’s learned from her mistakes, but that’s not a compelling pitch.

Working in the White House and learning its in and outs is a very compelling pitch. I actually have no idea what kind of pitch would compel Maureen. Perhaps an awesome nickname? Maybe, a trip to hangout with the case of One Tree Hill.

As a senator, she was not a leading voice on important issues, and her Iraq vote was about her political viability.

I agree with this a bit on the second part, of course we can’t take a measure of Obama because giving a speech is different than voting. Also the war didn’t seem like the worst idea in the world at the time. The Bush administration lied to us and cooked up intelligence. That’s how you answer that claim. I guarantee you, if WMDs had been there Obama would be no where near this primary right now. As for the first point, prove that, give me evidence don’t just assert things. People who don’t know you might think that you are basing this on fact, rather than your hatred of Hillary.

She told New York magazine’s John Heilemann that before Iowa taught her that she had to show her soft side, “I really believed I had to prove in this race from the very beginning that a woman could be president and a woman could be commander in chief. I thought that was my primary mission.”

If Hillary fails, it will be her failure, not ours.

Look, I agree it won’t be America’s failure, but it will be the press’. This entire election cycle has been Obama and the MSM against Hillary Clinton. No matter which side you support, there is no disputing that. Is Hillary perfect, lord no, but is St. Obama of Hopementum perfect, not by a long shot. But if aliens came down and read our newspapers they would wonder why American was having any trouble deciding between one candidate who the mostest perfectest person ever and another who appears to be a cross between the Emperor from Star Wars and e. coli bacteria. And this, Maureen, is partially your fault.


Anonymous said...

I just found your blog from a link on Just wanted you to know that I cancelled my NYT subscription the other day because I have had enough of Frank Rich & Dowd. Such intense snarkiness has no place in a solid newspaper. I lost my taste for Dowd's writing several years ago - and I used to like Rich on the war. Maybe they relied on just as few facts back then, but I knew from my other reading that what they said was largely true. Oh and does anybody remember their role in getting W elected in the first place? They detested Gore! I am pro Hillary and just read two anti-Hillary pieces in the New Yorker - they made me sad, but they were also fair and left me still respecting the writers.

Jonathan said...

It's true, the NYT columnists have just left all rationality and sense of decorum behind them. When David Brooks starts sounding like the voice of reason, there is a problem.