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The Unnecessary Maureen Dowd

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The Democratic primaries have been admirably focused on substantive differences. This evidently leaves Maureen Dowd, a third-rate gossip columnist and twelfth-rate theater critic who for some reason is published on the New York Times op-ed page, largely at sea. What, do you expect her to talk about health care policy when she could talk about Bill Clinton’s facial expressions:

As one Hillary booster in Hollywood marveled: “There’s no chance her husband doesn’t understand the problem. The look on his face during her speeches evokes a retired major league All Star watching his son strike out in a Little League game. This is so fixable.”

One trademark of Dowd’s columns is her outsourcing of witless banalities to various unnamed Beltway and Hollywood insiders. It’s actually very logical, the perfect exemplification of the underachieving elite circle-jerk that has conferred inexplicable status on Dowd. If you think A Beautiful Mind and Chicago are towering achievements of American cinema, you may well think Maureen Dowd is a good political columnist!

Her allies think mentioning her shouting is sexist, and sexism does swirl around Hillary, but her campaign cries sexism too often. In 2008, Barack Obama used race sparingly.

These tautologies don’t tell us anything. If Clinton loses more narrowly than expected in New Hampshire and wins big in South Carolina, you could say that it proves her calling out sexism is working. Had she been more sparing in citing sexism, you could say that she was making a mistake in not being more aggressive. It’s all meaningless. And if you think this is what’s driving the 2016 Democratic primaries you’re lost.

Even after all this time watching Bill and Barry, she still has not learned the art of seduction on stage.

The “Barry” thing is as offensive as ever.

Hillary has ceded the inspirational lane to the slick Marco Rubio, who’s more like the new John Edwards than the new Obama.

1)Who finds Rubio “inspirational?” 2)The comparison of Rubio to Edwards is a classic example of the uselessness of substituting fashion analysis for political analysis.

And now, my favorite part:

But she is establishment. So is Nancy Pelosi. So was Eleanor Roosevelt. Hillary must learn to embrace that and make it work for her, not deny it. As a woman, as a former first lady, senator and secretary of state, she’s uniquely equipped to deliver a big, inspiring message with a showstopping speech that goes beyond income inequality, that sweeps up broader themes of intolerance, fusing the economic, cultural and international issues at stake.

Maureen Dowd has been talking to various friends about the Democratic primary. What she has “learned” is that Hillary Clinton has been focused too narrowly on economic inequality. I can’t even.

But anyway, sure, Hillary Clinton could deliver a big speech combining themes of economic inequality with other progressive priorities. It could perhaps start with FDR’s Four freedoms, and then link economic inequality to civil liberties and civil rights and environmentalism and international issues. Here’s a draft she could possibly work with.

As we saw back when Drew Westen was a thing, even people who are obsessed with political rhetoric and think it’s enormously important either don’t know or don’t remember what public officials actually say. It’s an almost perfect self-refutation.

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  • Crusty

    What’s wrong with A Beautiful Mind?

    • c u n d gulag

      MoDo ain’t got one!

      • Brownian

        But much like John Nash, she seems to have extensive conversations with people who probably don’t exist.

        • i8kraft

          /thread

    • JMP

      http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0268978/?ref_=nv_sr_1

      Director: Ron Howard
      Writers: Akiva Goldsman, Sylvia Nasar (book)
      Stars: Russell Crowe, Ed Harris, Jennifer Connelly

      Among other crap, Goldsman wrote what is probably the worst movie made by actual professionals (excluding amateur trash like Manos: The Hands of Fate or The Room) I have ever seen, Batman & Robin. If you look at his writing credits, it’s all shit (and makes me despair for the upcoming adaptation of The Dark Tower series, which I love). A Beautiful Mind is an awful film, because it has such horrible writing.

      • Scott Lemieux

        Yes. Good cast and a potentially interesting story but the screenplay was dogshit.

      • Crusty

        I thought it was one of the better portrayals of mental illness on film. Not an all time great or anything, but it had merit and shouldn’t be a punchline.

        • Scott Lemieux

          I mean, I’m not saying it’s the worst thing I’ve ever seen, and if it’s the kind of mediocre movie you’re into, A Salute. But Best Picture?

          • AdamPShort

            Also a nice succinct review of Forrest Gump.

            • JMP

              I would disagree with that. Forrest Gump is an awful, reactionary and misogynist piece of trash. A Beautiful Mind is not Best Picture worthy, but it’s at least somewhat OK. Gump, on the other hand, is a rancid pile of shit that deserved the Razzie for 1994, and instead it got the Oscar.

              • djw

                Great minds and all.

                • Lee Rudolph

                  Hey, we should all cheer when our white hero becomes a millionaire when he gets to corner the shrimping market

                  thereby putting Dick Morris completely under his control, and changing the course of political history!

                • Dennis Orphen

                  I’ve always wanted to dip a toe in the shrimping market.

              • Crusty

                Reactionary? How so?

                • Warren Terra

                  Hippies are Dirty, Degraded, etcetera; sexual liberation brings nothing but depression, despair, abuse, and eventually fatal disease; it’s important to go along with authority at all times; better a hardworking moron than someone with ideas; etcetera ad infinitum.

                • Malaclypse

                  What Warren said.

                • JMP

                  Warren already covered most of my reasons. That film is an authoritarian, anti-liberal, anti-intellectual and anti-woman screed posing as a Greatest Hits album for Baby Boomers.

                  Hey, we should all cheer when our white hero becomes a millionaire when he gets to corner the shrimping market, after a hurricane destroys the boats of almost all the other (mostly poor and black) shimpers out there, destroying their lives!

                • Crusty

                  One quibble on that point- Bubba’s family got rich too from that and even got to hire themselves some white servants.

                • djw

                  when our white hero becomes a millionaire when he gets to corner the shrimping market, after a hurricane destroys the boats of almost all the other (mostly poor and black) shimpers out there, destroying their lives!

                  I’m told (I have no intention of finding out) that the book the screenplay is based on had some critical distance from its protagonist, and can plausibly be read as a critical commentary on the kind of world in which white male mediocrities fail upward while minorities, women, the disabled, etc are all left suffering and miserable along the way.

                • efgoldman

                  sexual liberation brings nothing but depression, despair, abuse, and eventually fatal disease

                  You mean that’s not true?
                  Damn!

            • djw

              I disagree. A Beautiful Mind wasn’t good, but it was mostly watchable and vaguely competent. “Forgettable” can be an insult, but compared to Forrest Gump, it’s a virtue. Forrest Gump is, occasional technical competence aside, one of the most maddening, file pieces of shit I’ve ever seen. Being reminded that it exists and that it took up two of my precious and limited hours here on earth, never fails to piss me off.

              • Crusty

                “Being reminded that it exists and that it took up two of my precious and limited hours here on earth, never fails to piss me off.”

                Well, the thing is, when you invest two hours in a movie, life is like a box of chocolates and you never know what you’re going to get.

                • Warren Terra

                  Have you looked in the lid or on the bottom of the box? Most mass-market boxes of chocolates have legends!

                  (yes, I know, old and unfunny rejoinder to that Forrest Gump false cliche; I’m just in that sort of a mood)

                • Crusty

                  That’s ok. I liked it. You’re right. Most of the time, you do know what you’re going to get.

                • Humpty-Dumpty

                  “Lark’s vomit?! It doesn’t say anything here on the label about lark’s vomit!”

                  “It does, at the bottom of the box, after ‘monosodium glutamate’.”

        • mikeSchilling

          I thought it was a standard, simplistic Hollywood portrayal of mental illness. Nash has no friends and wanted to be a hero in the fight against Communism, so he hallucinated both of those. No deeper than what we used to see on M*A*S*H.

        • efgoldman

          I thought it was one of the better portrayals of mental illness on film.

          A better one, certainly, than Tony Perkins chewing scenery in Fear Strikes Out or Psycho.

        • royko

          I thought it was one of the better portrayals of mental illness on film.

          Given that the movie got both his symptoms (he had auditory hallucinations, not visual ones) and his treatment (he refused medication) wrong, that’s not saying much.

      • erick

        It is overrated and a classic example of middle brow over sentimentalized Oscar bait (see also Robin Williams “serious” movies)

        But it isn’t even the worst Ron Howard/Russell Crowe movie, it is Citizen Kane compared to Cinderella Man

        • Scott Lemieux
        • FMguru

          Middle-brow cheap uplift horseshit that carries itself as Important is pretty much the definition of Oscar bait (Crash, anyone?). Bonus points for 1) somebody portraying mental illness, a handicap, or deformity 2) being about Hollywood or acting, 3) being directed or written by an actor, 4) a beautiful person playing someone physically ugly, and/or 5) being about British nobility or upper-class people.

    • burritoboy

      It turns Nasar’s Chicago School worshiping rimjob of Nash into a bizarre fantasy tale?

    • Short version: Scott refuses to give Ron Howard credit for turning unfilmable books into passable films.

      Longer version: For some strange reason, those workmanlike efforts keep getting lauded beyond their worth.

      The relationship between the short and long versions is left as an exercise.

  • Denverite

    She needs to swallow her pride. She will not die. It’s not poison.

    • sharculese

      Maureen Dowd’s pride? Are you absolutely sure it’s not poison?

      • muddy

        Shhhh, he’s using reverse psychology.

        • efgoldman

          Shhhh, he’s using reverse psychology.

          “President Obama says no-one should ever ingest drain cleaner.”

  • Denverite

    Or maybe she’s putting on airs when she’s down on Rue Morgue Avenue.

    • rea

      Very easily done. Just set up some bleacher seats out in the sun, and hold down on Highway 61!

    • mikeSchilling

      But I’ll betcha she’s never finished even one of Fitzgerald’s books.

    • Scott Lemieux

      Male Democratic politicians aren’t yellow, they’re chicken.

      • Denverite

        Every time I see Harry Reid, I ask myself, “is there a hole for me to get sick in?”

  • Denverite

    (I’ve been listening to High 61 Revisited a lot lately. Not sure why. It doesn’t hit the highs of Blonde on Blonde, but it’s more consistent.)

    • Scott Lemieux

      I believe this is correct.

      • Denverite

        Actually, I can’t think of a double album that doesn’t fit that general pattern. Maybe Exile.

        • Scott Lemieux

          Yes. Exile peaks lower than any of the preceding three albums but is also pretty consistent.

        • wjts

          London Calling?

          • AR

            Probably the strongest double album back when that meant something.

          • Double Nickels On The Dime
            Zen Arcade

            • sharculese

              I love Double Nickles and all, but there’s definitely some fat to be trimmed from it.

              • Scott Lemieux

                DNOTD a tough case because the fat is part of the fun.

              • I suppose so, although the loose jamminess of the album is something I appreciate about it. I wouldn’t say “You Need The Glory” is a song I’d listen to separate from the rest of the album, but I appreciate songs like that and “The Politics Of Time”, the “Dr. Wu” cover, etc. as part of the overall experience.

                Put another way, I can’t think of a single song I’d take off the first two sides, and the majority of the songs on the second two sides I would not even consider removing. There’s maybe 6-8 out of 45 that I would consider axing, and fewer than half of those I’d actually consider having a chance of improving the album as a whole.

                ETA: Or what Scott said. The album was very special to me when I first found it because it gave me this feeling like I was hanging out with these smart, kind of dorky, kind of theatrical people and listening to them do their thing. The dumb jokes and sincere covers of uncool stuff like Steely Dan is part of what gives it that unique feeling.

                Plus D. Boon was a fellow fat man, which I could identify with.

                • sharculese

                  I can appreciate yours and Scott’s perspective on the album, and I like the idea that they were trying to make a punk rock Umma Gumma, but at the end of the day I just feel like I would enjoy it more if it was shorter.

                  Don’t get me wrong, it’s a fantastic album, but the Minutemen are just not a sound I always want to hear for that length of time. 35 minutes and done is really what I’m looking for.

                • I can understand that, which is why it’s great that What Makes A Man Start Fires? also exists. It’s a much more focused album, and I think it’s Double Nickels’ equal as far as musical accomplishment goes. It’s just a different mood.

                  I also would be lying if I said I haven’t sometimes just listened to the first two sides of Double Nickels and moved on to something else. It ends with “History Lesson – Part II”, about as great an ending song as you could ask for.

                • sharculese

                  I get what you’re saying because if we were talking about The Glow, Pt. 2, I would argue that you can’t cut any of those weird noisy bits, because they’re essential to the character of the album.

                  But with DNOtD, honestly, I would just like to see it streamlined.

                  Also:

                  It ends with “History Lesson – Part II”, about as great an ending song as you could ask for.

                  Sadly, as someone who was born in 1986, my first introduction to “History Lesson – Part II” was the sample Sublime used on 40 oz. to Freedom.

                • I was also born in 1986, and my introduction to “History Lesson” was that sample, too!

          • sharculese

            Lift Yr Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven is a double right? I feel like that earns its length.

          • Dennis Orphen

            London calling was double on vinyl but fits on one CD fwiw.

            • sharculese

              It’s still pretty fucking long.

        • erick

          I suppose there is a different standard for Rock Operas, but Quadrophenia and The Wall?

          • Denverite

            I haven’t listened to Quadrophenia in ages. I’d definitely say that The Wall has some brilliant moments but ultimately is inconsistent.

            • Scott Lemieux

              Yeah, The Wall is the classic inconsistent, high-ceiling low-floor double album. Quadrophenia holds up pretty well soup-to-nuts, though.

        • keta

          Rundgren’s Something/Anything hits it out of the park on all four sides.

          So, too, does The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway. The White Album and Physical Graffiti still do it for me.

    • joe from Lowell

      Coming from a punk background, I like the raw spontaneity of Highway 61 Revisited.

      • Scott Lemieux

        The new box with all the Highway 61 and Blonde on Blonde sessions is the kind of thing I’d like to at least hear if not purchase.

        • wjts

          Whenever Dylan outtakes, alternate versions, and the box sets that contain them come up, I’m always reminded of a quote from Nick Hornby’s Songbook: “I own more recordings by Dylan than by any other artist. Some people – my mother, say, who may not own twenty CDs in total – would say that I am a Dylan fanatic, but I know Dylan fanatics and they would not recognize me as one of them. (I have a friend who stays logged on to the Dylan website Expecting Rain most of the day at work – as if the website were CNN and Dylan’s career were the Middle East – and who owns 130 Dylan albums, including a fourteen-CD boxed set of every single thing Dylan recorded during 1965 apart from – get this – Highway 61 Revisited, the only thing he recorded during 1965 that sane people would want to own. He’s pretty keen.)”

        • joe from Lowell

          I have a friend who is a Dylan fan like that.

          I’ve heard most of his stuff and like some a whole lot. Even bough a couple albums. It seems like most Dylan fans are serious.

    • AR

      It came on one of the two best runs in rock history. From Another Side of Bob Dylan through John Wesley Harding, he had 5 stone cold classic albums. He is up to 6 if you include the Basement Tapes, which was recorded during that run but not released at the time*. Awhile ago, for a now defunct music ‘zine, my brother and I went through artist’s runs of classic albums to see who was the “greatest” based upon who had the longest unbroken run. Dylan tied for first with this run, with Stevie Wonder’s remarkable 5 album run of Music on My Mind through Songs in the Key of Life.** But for the clunker of Where I’m Coming From, it would have been an even longer run for him, and a clear first place finish.

      *So the run would be Another Side of Bob Dylan, Bring it All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited, Blond on Blond, and John Wesley Harding.

      **So that run is Music on My Mind, Talking Book, Innervisions, Fulfillingness’ First Final, and Songs in the Key of Life.

      • Dennis Orphen

        Where I’m Coming from is a great record that belongs in that run.

  • Morse Code for J

    And the bewildering thing is that she’s not even the most irrelevant or fact-impermeable columnist the Times has.

    • AMK

      Not irrelevant. The Styles-section crowd needs somebody to help them feel politically informed.

      My vote on both counts goes to a certain Professor Of Humility At Yale. Though maybe he’s there to fill the parody slot.

  • JMP

    “In 2008, Barack Obama used race sparingly.”

    Yeah, I certainly haven’t heard tons of right-wingers accusing Obama of “playing the race card”, every single time that Obama has acknowledged that racism exists; just like the accusations that Hillary Clinton “cries sexism” every single time she or her campaign points out that a misogynist attack on her was, in fact, misogynist.

    • CP

      Yeah, that’s what I was about to say.

      I always figured that as soon as Obama became a memory and there was a new Number-One-Socialist in the crosshairs, we’d start hearing people pine about how well behaved and dignified Obama was, in contrast to the shameless scumbag who was his successor. Kind of like how I’ve heard Bill Clinton fondly remembered by Beltway and right wing pundits, but only in contrast to Obama – when he was in the White House, he was a white trash hick who came in and trashed the place when it wasn’t his place.

      • JMP

        Sometimes it seems like the conservative pundits and politicians think that no one remembers anything that’s happened more than a year or two ago, and fail to realize that video exists.

        • muddy

          We’ve always been at war with Eurasia.

          • Thom

            Eastasia

        • brewmn

          Sadly, when regarding the vast bulk of American voters, they may be right.

      • mikeSchilling

        I have to admit that President Cruz would make me nostalgic for every preceding Republican president including Harding and Nixon.

    • JustRuss

      I like the implication that the decision to talk about race depended entirely on Obama’s Machiavellian wiles, and bore no relation to the amount of racist BS his detractors have thrown his way. That’s just so…..Maureen Dowd-y.

    • joe from Lowell

      Yeah, I certainly haven’t heard tons of right-wingers accusing

      Is this how you go about determining whether something is true or not? By what right-wingers say?

      Of course right-wingers make that accusation, but they make it regardless of the underlying facts. It literally tells us nothing about any given circumstance. It’s like saying John McCain supports a war, or Dennis Kucinich opposes one.

      Right-wingers, you might remember, accused Obama of bringing up race in his answer to the question about the Henry Louis Gates arrest – and he literally didd not say a word about race. He very obviously went out of his way not to, as he did throughout his campaign, and throughout his early presidency.. So, no, I’m sorry, “Right wingers said he did” doesn’t mean he actually did.

      Let’s not invent an imaginary past here. Barack Obama had to be faced with a campaign-ending disaster before he’d even give a speech devoted to race. That’s, um, not quite the same as this year.

      • Dilan Esper

        I have an absolute ton of respect for how Obama has handled race. He has handled the issue, I think, as well as you could possibly expect any hypothetical first black President too, and it took quite a lot of political skill to do it.

        • joe from Lowell

          Yeah, agreed. Why, I recall coming to this conclusion after reading some defenses of Barack Obama’s reticence to discuss race, which were offered in response to more plaintive pieces about his reticence to discuss race.

          Which is to say, I don’t think I’m making this up. I think Barack Obama being more reticent to discuss race than Clinton is to discuss gender is a thing that actually happened, and not a Maureen Dowd figment.

          • Dilan Esper

            It definitely happened.

            And that’s not a criticism of Clinton’s use of gender. The politically savvy approaches to these two issues are different.

            • joe from Lowell

              Absolutely, the difference is mainly one of circumstances.

    • Warren Terra

      Obama used race sparingly at least in part because (1) he’d written a whole book about his journey from being a half-African kid raised by his white grandparents to becoming a part of the American Black community in Chicago; (2) the relevance of race was glaringly obvious, literally as plain as his appearance; and didn’t need to be mentioned; and (3) every time he or a surrogate mentioned the existence of race the shrieks of his opponents’ partisans could be heard halfway around the globe.

      • Peterr

        Simply by walking into the room, Obama injected race into it!

        /rightwing

      • Remember how the Trayvon Martin shooting became a political issue overnight after Obama made the unremarkable observation that the shooting was a tragedy, and that Trayvon could have been his son?

    • Pseudonym

      Even setting aside the asinine notion that Obama was merely “using” race as a tool in his campaign chest, there’s also the critical difference that an appeal to pure identity-politics solidarity couldn’t work because black people (or even people of color) don’t make up a majority of the voting public. So the comparison fails on its own terms, but more importantly here in the real world as well.

      • It’s my opinion that Clinton is using the “first woman president” bit more as a preemptive defensive measure than as a direct entreaty to voters. Voters already know she’d be the first woman to be president.

        In the 2008 horse race coverage, when she was calm, unemotional, and downplayed stereotypical “feminine” traits, she was attacked from all kinds of angles (mannish/unlikeable, ashamed of being a woman, dishonest, etc.). When she talked about “women’s issues” or about being a mother, or if she misted up or seemed emotional, suddenly she was both hysterical and faking womanliness.

        I think by presenting herself from the start as both the “first woman president” who cares about feminism, abortion, etc. and also a hard-nosed pragmatist she weakens both of these attacks.

  • Denverite

    I can’t even.

    Funny. Was that intentional, or just a huge coincidence?

    http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/bob-dylan-coined-phrase-back-1966-article-1.2482799

  • bobbo1

    Another unnamed insider cannily observed that “she can’t decide whether to hug Bill or Barry.” That, my friends, is The Defining Moment of her campaign.

  • c u n d gulag

    Jayzoos!
    When you can make Bobo seem spontaneous and empathetic, it’s time to retire!

    Not to get sexist, but as she keeps writing her insipid columns, they ought to be titled, ‘The Laming of the Shrew.’

    I was hoping she might type something about ‘Multo’ Marco RUBE-io, and his software glitch in the debate.
    But, as usual, she’s focused her JHS gossip columnist writing skills on the Democrats.

    One thing I’m sure of – I don’t ever want to see the photo’s of the upper NY Times management in compromising positions, that keeps her in her job.
    I hate animal cruelty and child-p*rn!

  • paulgottlieb

    Reading Maureen Down is the intellectual equivalent of drinking raw sewage

    • Warren Terra

      Not so. There are organisms and biomes that do in fact drink raw sewage, and in doing so they thrive and contribute to society. There is no possible benefit to reading Dowd; even literate algae would scorn to do it.

  • ajp

    Shameless Dilan-baiting.

    • sharculese

      The fact that Dilan has weird, insane ideas about Maureen Dowd is no reason not to point out that she’s terrible.

      • Dilan Esper

        I love you too sharc :)

        I didn’t mind this post. It’s a basically substantive attack on a column. I didn’t think the column was as bad as Scott did, but I didn’t exactly think it was great either.

        Where I have a problem is when we get the big thematic critique of Dowd, calling her a terrible columnist, saying she basically never does anything good, etc. Basically I think Scott comes at those posts with a fundamental lack of understanding of what makes Dowd a respected journalist (and she is, despite Scott’s complaints, highly respected within the profession). But if he wants to go after a particular column that I didn’t think was all that great, fine, have at it.

        • i8kraft

          That she is highly respected in the field says a lot more about the field than her critics in this case.

          • Dilan Esper

            It’s possible it does.

            But it’s also possible that (1) humor is subjective, and things that Scott and LGM readers more generally don’t find particularly funny, other people find very funny, (2) journalists have a better understanding of their profession and what constitutes a good writer than a fairly small segment of the intelligentsia, and (3) the general public is looking for something very different from a newspaper op-ed columnist than Scott and LGM readers are, and the people who run newspapers (and pay Dowd lots of money to run her column) are more in touch with that than you folks are.

            I mean, I know you all hate the Pauline Kael alleged quote about Nixon, but even if the anecdote it describes never happened, the actual phenomenon is quite real. People assume that because THEY see something as terrible, it must actually be terrible.

            I wouldn’t take the position I take on Dowd if she was actually a controversial figure in journalism with numerous detractors within the industry. But she really isn’t that. I know a fair number of people in the industry, and they all think Dowd is great at what she does (even if they don’t share her politics or think some of the substance of her columns is wrongheaded). She couldn’t have won that Pulitzer if that were not true. Literally we are talking about someone that a lot of journalists would call the best op-ed columnist in all of American journalism. And she is very likely the most widely read one.

            Also, she’s actually an extremely good reporter. That’s how she got her current job. And every once in awhile, she takes on a reporting task (such as going to Saudi Arabia, or writing a huge NYT Magazine piece about sexism in Hollywood) and you actually see the craft.

            I think in the end, she’s really good at a type of writing that Scott doesn’t have a lot of respect for. But that’s very different from what everyone here says about her. She’s definitely not a bad journalist. She’s a very good one.

            • i8kraft

              I’m definitely not in the industry, and I absolutely understand that she can turn a sentence, but the fact that she uses her skills to dig the knife in precisely where she does is exactly why she draws the hate she does. It’s not just that her substance is wrongheaded, it’s that even if it were true it would usually never do any good. If ‘presumptuous’ and ‘catty’ are the first two words that many would use to describe you while you style yourself as a serious political observer, perhaps you aren’t so serious after all. And on that topic, what was it that got her the Pulitzer anyway? Was it the most gossipy bit of political theater in recent memory? No, that couldn’t be it.

            • ColBatGuano

              I wouldn’t take the position I take on Dowd if she was actually a controversial figure in journalism with numerous detractors within the industry. But she really isn’t that. I know a fair number of people in the industry, and they all think Dowd is great at what she does

              Again, this is an indictment of the industry, not a recommendation for Dowd.

            • Pseudonym

              I wouldn’t take the position I take on Dowd if she was actually a controversial figure in journalism with numerous detractors within the industry. But she really isn’t that. I know a fair number of people in the industry, and they all think Dowd is great at what she does (even if they don’t share her politics or think some of the substance of her columns is wrongheaded). She couldn’t have won that Pulitzer if that were not true. Literally we are talking about someone that a lot of journalists would call the best op-ed columnist in all of American journalism.

              Well, as someone (I forget who) put it recently (I forget where):

              One trademark of Dowd’s columns is her outsourcing of witless banalities to various unnamed Beltway and Hollywood insiders. It’s actually very logical, the perfect exemplification of the underachieving elite circle-jerk that has conferred inexplicable status on Dowd. If you think A Beautiful Mind and Chicago are towering achievements of American cinema, you may well think Maureen Dowd is a good political columnist!

            • Hogan

              Weren’t you making this argument about Michael Bay recently? Lots of people see his movies, so they must like them, so he must be a good filmmaker? And you never said anything concrete or specific about the movies?

            • Roberta

              I think she’s an excellent snide gossip columnist. But journalist? She rarely does that work anymore (if she ever did, I’m not familiar with her early career).

        • Warren Terra

          If you read Dowd you’d literally know less for having done so, except maybe for having insight into the minds of people who read her. She commands space that’s literally worth perhaps a hundred thousand dollars if sold instead for ads, every week. It’s an amazing waste.

          • Dilan Esper

            Except the people who run the New York Times don’t think so.

            And except that I can identify plenty of good journalism that she has produced. (As I noted above, she recently did a big NYT Magazine piece about sexism in Hollywood. Did you read it?)

            • The people who run the New York Times think Ross Douthat is worthy of a weekly berth from which to wring his hands about all the loose women, too.

              • sharculese

                This. If your argument is that the people who think Ross Douthat and David Brooks are necessary reading think well of her, you’re making a bad argument.

                • Dilan Esper

                  Ross Douthat serves an institutional function.

                • sharculese

                  Honestly, dude, I cannot begin to fathom what that means, but it doesn’t sound far off from “say what you will of the tenets of National Socialism, but at least it’s an ethos.”

                • Malaclypse

                  Ross Douthat serves an institutional function.

                  As do sewer systems. Do they get a NYT column?

            • Pseudonym

              The fact that you’re defending her opinion column work by citing her journalism pieces doesn’t say what you think it does.

              • ColBatGuano

                Hey, what about her hard hitting expose of getting high in Denver?

        • sharculese

          But she’s not a journalist. She’s a gossip columnist.

      • ajp

        I just want to make clear that I was joking. I find Dowd insufferable, but really, even if her prose crackled like Nabokov’s I wouldn’t like her any more. It’s not her ear for syntax or whatever, it’s that there’s no there there.

        I do admit that Dilan relentlessly going after Scott on this one is bizarre. But even though I virtually always disagree with him I was not trying to take a swipe at Dilan. I do generally enjoy his comments.

  • Malaclypse

    she’s uniquely equipped to deliver a big, inspiring message with a showstopping speech that goes beyond income inequality, that sweeps up broader themes of intolerance, fusing the economic, cultural and international issues at stake.

    “My fellow Americans. As a young girl, I dreamed of being a baseball; but tonight I say, we must move forward, not backward; upward, not forward; and always twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom!”

    • wjts

      “I am Clin-ton. As overlord, all will kneel trembling before me and obey my brutal command. End communication.”

      • “Hmph. That’s Slick Willy for you. Always with the smooth talk.”

  • joe from Lowell

    Has nobody told her the problem with the “Barry” thing? Or is she doing it on purpose?

    • JMP

      I’m sure Dowd believes that her use of a diminutive nickname for the President, effectively referring to him as “boy”, is just a comment on which she imagines his personality to be and has nothing to do with race even though it so obviously does.

      • wjts

        HOW CAN IT BE RACIST WHEN OBAMA HIMSELF USED TO GO BY “BARRY”?

    • JustRuss

      Definitely on purpose. Venting on Dems like a middle-school mean girl is pretty much her reason for living.

    • muddy

      Not that I ever read Maureen Dowd, but whenever I see a reference by her or RWNJ peeps, I am always confused and taken aback – not by the rudeness but that I don’t know who they mean.

      “Barry. Barry who? Barry….. Oh, she means the president!”

      After 8 years I have not learned to make the connection immediately. But as soon as I do, it’s “Oh right, the president. Referred to by someone who hates him irrationally.”

      Until the next time, and I read it and wonder, “Who?”

    • It’s so infuriating.

      Racist, offensive (in addition to the offensiveness of the racism), and lazy.

      I’m a body of work filled to the brim with things to regret on her deathbed, this ranks very high.

    • sharculese

      I’m sure there are points in the last eight years where people have tried, realized what a lost cause it was, and sighed in despair.

  • mikeSchilling

    a third-rate gossip columnist and twelfth-rate theater critic who for some reason is published on the New York Times op-ed page,

    It’s true that compared to her more avowedly conservative colleagues,she’s overqualified.

  • efgoldman

    But she is establishment. So is Nancy Pelosi. So was Eleanor Roosevelt

    Yeah, so? The were/are both people of great, great accomplishment, but neither is/was going to be the first woman president.

    Bernstein (of Wooodstein) was interviewed on CNN the other night, saying that “[unnamed, unsourced] people inside the White House are ballistic at how she’s blowing this…”
    The only person he actually quoted as a source/authority? Why, Modo, of course.
    I used to take the media Village seriously. Silly, stupid me.

    • Peterr

      If you are looking for a glimpse of what Our Kind of People think inside The Village, Bernstein is your go-to guy as the Village’s Stenographer in Chief.

      In this case, I’d say that the unnamed folks probably are saying pretty much what Bernstein is passing along. Sanders is campaigning as much against the Obama administration’s approach to the economy as against the GOP proposals, and they really would prefer that Clinton get him to shut up already. It’s not that they are objectively pro-Hillary as much as they don’t at all like the critique of their economic approach that Bernie is putting out there.

      In that same vein, see also “Senator Professor Warren.”

      • efgoldman

        In that same vein, see also “Senator Professor Warren.”

        But Warren is out front. She’s not dropping catty, don’t quote me, unattributed quotations. I absolutely have no quarrel with that; nobody should.

  • i8kraft

    If MoDo were in any way necessary she would be Gail Collins.

  • djanyreason

    If you think A Beautiful Mind and Chicago are towering achievements of American cinema, you may well think Maureen Dowd is a good political columnist!

    This is where I stopped reading. I enjoyed both movies, particularly Chicago. They have 75% and 86% respectively on RT, which isn’t the be all and end all (and 75% is, obviously, mediocre at best), but still – suggests that at least some people might enjoy them as well

    Not sure why bashing your potential readers’ taste in movies is a useful rhetorical device, but there you are.

    • i8kraft

      I read to the end because I hate MoDo that much, but I agree.

    • NonyNony

      You should hang around here some more. The guys at this blog will insult your taste in condiments. Insulting your taste in movies is barely anything.

      • Don’t forget taste in alcohol.

        • joe from Lowell

          But that’s the entire point of vodka!

          • Pseudonym

            Lacking it?

            Come to think of it, vodka is just alcohol without the condiments. So the folks here will even insult your taste in lack of condiments. That’s what makes it a full-service blog.

        • efgoldman

          Don’t forget taste in alcohol.

          Bagels and the accompaniments, also too.

    • There’s a difference between “enjoying” something and thinking it a “towering achievement[] of American cinema”.

      • Scott Lemieux

        Right. I have nothing against solid middlebrow Hollywood entertainments (although I could do without either of these two.) I’m suggesting that they are not worthy of the industry’s highest honor.

        • celticdragonchick

          Still wondering what the problem is with Chicago. Wicked smart Bob Fosse musical that subverted the genre, and it has a place of honor in my personal collection. Was it better than The Pianist?

          *shrug*

        • Pseudonym

          Do you think the industry’s highest honor should be reserved for a certain level of brow?

    • witlesschum

      If Scott was more like me, his go to example would be Jethro Tull winning a Grammy in 1989 over Metallica’s last great record.

  • Steve LaBonne

    It is entirely possible for MoDo to be a flaming idiot AND for Hillary Clinton to be an inept politician. I happen to think that both of those things are the case.

    • jim, some guy in iowa

      I dunno. I think Clinton has adequate skills politically. What’s happening to her now is the same thing that happened in 2008, where people found her to be too much of her moment and not enough of theirs. I didn’t really expect to see another Obama-style phenomenon in my lifetime, and yet I think we quite possibly are with Sanders. Her strength is her utter conventionality- and it probably would really show running against any of the republicans- but it works against her in this kind of primary race

      on the larger topic, Dowd is just a tool. She may have gotten the Times gig because she can be a good journalist, but she was syndicated into papers like the Cedar Rapids Gazette because she has a knack for the entertaining nastygram- which is nothing to be especially proud of in the long run

  • calling all toasters

    I’ve never heard it said, but Dowd has to be a big-time lush, right? She’s spent the last twenty years grousing about her sexual issues by attacking the Clintons and her daddy issues by attacking the Bushes. Can you imagine anyone doing this in real life without being a drunk? She’s got a full shitsack of all the loser emotions (jealousy, vindictiveness, self-pity, etc.) and she can’t stop talking about them. She’s like a trashier, louder Althouse.

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