Home / General / I Hope It Had At Least 18 Axles

I Hope It Had At Least 18 Axles



The general argument made by Maureen Dowd’s latest entry — shorter: “First Barack Obama opposed Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination when she was running against him, now he supports her when he’s inelgible to run again, make up your mind!” — is worth exactly as much thought as she put into it, i.e. pretty much none. But I was amused by this bit:

Besides Biden, Obama threw another loyal former lieutenant, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, under the bus.

In the D.N.C. video introducing Obama at the convention, the president was built up as a hero on health care. It said Emanuel went to the president and said, “You’re going to have to pull the bill, because if you push this legislation, you will lose in 2012.”

Emanuel, who was hosting a party at the convention that night, was rightfully upset. It was his job to warn the president of the political consequences, and after Obama decided, it was Emanuel and Nancy Pelosi who had to arm-twist the bill through with no Republican votes.

Boo hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo! Emmanuel deserves all of the criticism he’s received for advocating pulling the ACA and more. This is not terribly complicated. One one side of the ledger, we have the 20 million or so people who would not have health insurance had Obama and Reid and Pelosi taken his advice. Dowd defends Rahm because he had a responsibility to inform Obama that he would lose in 2012. It seems worth noting at this point that Obama did not lose in 2012. So Dowd’s argument is that it’s horribly unfair to attack Rahm’s terrible policy advice because it was in fact inept political analysis. Yeah, sure. Admittedly, I suspect Rahm was focused more on 2010, but that doesn’t help much — sure, the Democrats lost, but the idea that they could have flipped 50 had they tried and then failed to pass a comprehensive health care reform bill is absurd.

Things get even worse than this towards the end:

The president made his vote-for-Hillary-or-face-doom convention speech only 22 days after his F.B.I. director painted Hillary as reckless and untruthful.

He argued that there is no choice but to support Hillary against a “self-declared savior” like Donald Trump, perhaps forgetting that Obama was once hailed as such a messiah that Oprah introduced him in 2007 as “the one,” and it became his moniker.

Obama 2007 and Trump 2016 — not a dime’s worth of difference! And it’s puzzling that Obama thinks Clinton is infinitely preferable to Trump despite a trivial email scandal that would not rank in the top 100 of bad things Donald Trump has done in the last 30 days! I think MoDo got hooked up with her Colorado brownie supplier again.

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  • Ken

    So has anyone here worked in a news organization? How does it come down – does your line manager actually say “Without a horse race narrative we can’t charge as much for ads, so push Trump and knock Clinton,” or is is more subtle?

    • Captain Oblivious

      This is MoDo being Modo.

      There is a 100% probability that between now and November, there will be at least one Modo column masculinizing Hillary and feminizing Obama. I’m surprised she didn’t do that here.

      • tsam

        Yeah, she’s a special case. Volumes of crazy shit in her backlog.

        • Batman

          Heavy drinking takes its’ toll.

          • Snarki, child of Loki

            It would be irresponsible not to speculate about ‘butt-chugging’.

    • I suspect there are no actual orders, one just learns what one is to do. Many reporters probably just want to write about the horse race anyway; they are bored/confused by actual policies, & assume their readers have the same reaction & won’t read anything but who’s-up-in-the-polls stories.

      I doubt many editors do anything to disabuse them of this notion.

    • witlesschum

      I haven’t worked anywhere like the Times, but it’s not likely anyone is telling Dowd what to write. You hire people who want to write what you want written and are good at it. How reporters are encouraged to cover the news is more subtly reinforced. You find out just by osmosis, basically, what the editorial line the organization you work for is holding to along with things like content standards and etc.

      • Halloween Jack

        I’m fairly confident that MoDo’s response to just about any editorial criticism or attempt at direction would be to simply bang her Pulitzer on the editor’s desk.

        • Yes. It’s actually less disturbing to imagine this than she goes to budget meetings, pitches story ideas and other people help refine them.

    • CP

      So has anyone here worked in a news organization? How does it come down – does your line manager actually say “Without a horse race narrative we can’t charge as much for ads, so push Trump and knock Clinton,” or is is more subtle?

      I’ve always assumed that institutions like this self-select so that they don’t need to do anything so crass as give instructions. All the work is done when they decide who to hire and who to promote. People who write good horse-race narratives and “Shape Of Earth: Views Differ” articles get to climb to the top, those who don’t, don’t.

  • Pseudonym

    Is five axles enough? That’s the most I can find on a real bus.

  • Ask Me Gently

    Dowd also this week served up a telephone interview with Trump, built around allowing him a response to the charges directed his way during the DNC. Strictly softball; no pushback or follow-up questions to Trump’s whiny bullshit answers.

    • jim, some guy in iowa

      she does journalism the same way she does op-eds. such a waste

  • Ask Me Gently

    Can you change the oil while you’re down there, Rahm?

    • LosGatosCA

      I think when you run over Rahm a lube job is a natural byproduct.

  • efgoldman

    Rahm’s always been despicable.
    Modo’s always been despicable.
    Why should either of them change now? It puts Benjamins in their bank accounts. And in Modo’s case, doesn’t she get invited to all the right parties?

    • DAS

      Well they are the right parties for her. If she was invited to certain parties … well, she doesn’t do well with pot.

      • Origami Isopod

        She’d probably be more coherent and readable if she got high.

        • DAS

          My comment was made in reference to the fact that this experiment has already been performed, and the results are not as you hypothesize. I do not want to unnecessarily subject my fellow commenters to rotten mangos, but, if you are brave and not squeamish, you can google “dowd edible”

  • CrunchyFrog

    We will probably never know in what ways and to what degree Rahm infected affected the policy of the Obama administration. I’m sure there were lots of other reasons why Obama shifted towards more progressive positions after his first two years. But my suspicion is that when all is finished the worst decision Obama made in his 8 years was to appoint Rahm chief of staff, and that this resulted in all kinds of sub-optimal policies and probably contributed to the size of the midterm losses in 2010. The most important thing Obama could have done to improve Democratic chances in 2010 was to improve the economy – and if that was not politically feasible the second most important would be to make public statements describing what he’d like to do for the economy as he recognized how bad it was. We’ll never know if the congress would have allowed more stimulus – very possibly not as it seems Lieberasshole fully bought into the new-in-2009 philosophy of filibuster everything you vote No on – but we know he had opportunities via HAMP and TARP to do more than was done without needing Congressional approval. We also know that his jobs summit at the start of 2010 gave no results and was optically a disaster, and that his administration’s message of “all is well” on the economy gave the impression he didn’t get it at all.

    And that doesn’t even start on all of the good things that the Obama administration has done in his second term that were available to be done in term 1 – and it’s not like doing those in the first two years would have made the 2010 election loss worse, but just perhaps it might have energized his base that was surprisingly dispirited after the the two years that just happened to coincide with Rahm’s term as chief of staff.

    As I said, we can’t know for sure Rahm had that kind of effect, but after watching his reign of terror over Chicago it sure makes sense that he did the same as chief of staff for Obama.

    • Incontinentia Buttocks

      I generally agree with this. But one other thing that Obama could have done to improve things on the margins in 2010: appoint a more effective DNC Chair and fold his excellent campaign operation from 2008 into the party’s campaign operation. Instead, Obama essentially created a parallel campaign organization outside the party. This worked great for him in 2012. But the party went into 2010 without a clear strategy and without the tactical benefits of Obama’s excellent 2008 campaign operation.

    • jim, some guy in iowa

      re: dispirited base in 2010- someone, I think djw, has said that polling revealed that the people who skipped the ’10 midterms were *more* satisfied with Obama and the Democrats’ job performance than the people who *did* vote D that fall. I find that endlessly weird and perverse

      • Matt McIrvin

        They figured that with Obama safely in office, they were done.

        • N__B

          It’s the end of history, man. Nothing to do now but coast.

      • LosGatosCA

        If Clinton wants to avoid the same fate in 2018 turnout has to be a priority from the day after Election Day this year.

        and no more Republicans at the Fed, DoD, the intelligence agencies or the FBI.

        • CrunchyFrog

          Agree on all counts. Frankly, Obama’s team didn’t seem at all interested in 2010 or 2014. There wasn’t even any clear message of what the Democrats stood for in either – 2018 should be Clinton’s priority from day 1. Midterms don’t HAVE to be bad for Democrats – look at 2006.

          And, yes, staff the administration with people who are from the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party. No more Rahm’s, Lanny Davises, Dick Morrises, Joe Lieberbutts, or anyone from the Rhee or Geithner schools of thought. Believe in what your party stands for and make it happen.

      • tsam

        I find that endlessly weird and perverse

        Well, it sort of makes sense–happy with Obama and the Dems, things are going great, why waste time doing anything to keep them there?

      • CrunchyFrog

        re: dispirited base in 2010- someone, I think djw, has said that polling revealed that the people who skipped the ’10 midterms were *more* satisfied with Obama and the Democrats’ job performance than the people who *did* vote D that fall. I find that endlessly weird and perverse

        Well, haven’t done the analysis, but I do know that locally in this swing state they had an extremely difficult time getting Dem volunteers for the 2010 election as most of the ones they contacted from 2008 said they were unhappy with the Dems and weren’t going to volunteer. There are no numbers here, just anecdote, but I wonder if GOTV was impacted.

        • jim, some guy in iowa

          no doubt GOTV *was* affected. It says *something*, and I’m not sure what, about the Democratic base that the people who are less satisfied with the president have to do the heavy lifting to get those who *are* basically satisfied to actually vote in a midterm

          • witlesschum

            The dynamic is basically that the richer and whiter you are, the more likely you are to vote outside of presidential elections, no? So, I think it just says that things in America, including voting, are easier if you’re richer and whiter. And I’d also guess that richer and whiter Democrats were more likely to be less satisfied with Obama.

            I was chatting with the lady in line behind me and her boyfriend at the primary. A black lady dressed like a low-level hospital worker of some sort, she told me she’d had to arrange to come in early so she could get out of work early enough to get to the polls and get someone to watch her kids. She did it and was there (I didn’t ask for whom), but obviously it took some doing. I tend to think that anecdote matches up with the data and illustrates a lot.

            Add that to people having a TV News and pop culture level understanding of how politics works and I don’t think it’s mysterious that the off-year electorate is less from the democratic wing of the Democratic Party, as they say.

            • jim, some guy in iowa

              yeah. between being self-employed, such as it is, and living in a small town where you rarely have to wait more than a few minutes to vote I tend to underestimate the difficulties people face- you got me there. I do suspect a fair number of non-voters in midterms *could* vote easily enough though

              so I think what’s going to have to happen is that as said above Obama, Clinton, and the rest of the top level people are going to have to do the educating and building of party infrastructure necessary to get the potential voters to jump through those hoops for a midterm- at least for now until we can open up the voting process. But even then people are going to have to be engaged enough to take advantage of those reforms

            • CrunchyFrog

              I definitely saw that in 2012 as a Democratic poll watcher in a lower middle class precinct. One of the challenges lower income voters have is that they are more likely to be renters and to move more frequently, which means more likely to have their address on their registration be out of date and more likely to go to the polling station in the wrong precinct. So that 20-40 minute trip you’d planned for voting suddenly takes longer as you are given the choice of either driving to the correct precinct OR spend the time to fill out a provisional ballot.

              Now add to that the fact that lower income voters don’t have the spare time to vote that people do at the higher income levels. For someone of middle income or above, you are more likely to be in a job with flexible hours and more likely to be to adjust child care arrangements with relative ease. We saw long lines when our station opened at 7 am, and many of the voters explained to me (during discussions about the other precinct vs provisional ballot option) that once they got to work they simply couldn’t get back to the polls later the same day due to post-work child care or disabled parent care or similar. Late in the day we saw the same thing, as people told me that they had to make special arrangement that day to give them a window of time for voting.

              Now many states (i.e. those without Republican governance) are moving to make voting easier, and Colorado is definitely one of those. But the premise that voting is a bigger burden the lower you get on the income scale is definitely correct.

      • Derelict

        I think a lot of that dispiritedness came from watching Obama repeatedly reaching out to Republicans and never seeming to learn that he’d always get burned. Many liberals kept hoping Obama would just tell McConnell and Boehner to go fuck themselves, but he never did that. So, many sat out 2010 thinking “Ah, what good does it do to vote anyway?”

        At the same time, the DNC’s policy of not spending money on any race that wasn’t a guaranteed win pretty much ensured that none of the contested-but-winnable seats flipped. This, too, led many liberals to sit out the mid-terms. If the Democratic Party wasn’t all that interested in winning, the voters weren’t all that interested in voting for them.

      • FlipYrWhig

        I don’t think that’s weird at all. The young people and other first-time voters that Obama tapped… weren’t new Democrats, they were new Obamacrats. They care about who the president is, and don’t care about politics otherwise. With no Obama on the ballot, they didn’t feel the same itch to get involved or show up. This was much discussed by Democratic strategists wary of the Obama approach to GOTV all along.

      • Morse Code for J

        Not really. Look at the Bernie people. Many, if not most will be back to not voting because The System Does Not Inspire Them two years from now.

        • Redwood Rhiadra

          Many of them will be back to not voting *three months* from now. Clinton just doesn’t satisfy their revolutionary desires.

    • lawtalkingguy

      You have to wonder what caused him to try the stupid compromise via Simpsons-Bowls. Rahm or Obama’s belief at that time that the GOP would be reasonable and let him be a bipartisan president.

      Anyway the post is right, TARP was mishandled and appointing T. Giethner was a mistake. As was the lack of prosecution of major Wall Street types — just for the optics.

    • joel hanes

      For reasons that have never been explained, the nascent Obama administration was notably tardy in nominating people to positions all up and down the executive and judicial branches — they just didn’t nominate anyone for some important positions for a long time.

      Rahm was chief of staff during that time; I imagine he was too busy kicking everyone to the left of Obama in the shins to be arsed to get damned lists timely prepared.

    • AMK

      Rahm was there first and foremost to represent/reassure the money wing of the Party. Period. People forget what an untested novelty Obama still seemed to many of them, and Rahm had the kind of forceful reputation that gave them confidence they would be heard.

      • Not unlike Trump, who doesn’t want black people counting his money, just Jewish folk.

        22) Black bankers: Trump told Rolling Stone in June the following comments an associate alleged he made were “probably true”: “Black guys counting my money! I hate it. The only kind of people I want counting my money are little short guys that wear yarmulkes every day.”

      • CrunchyFrog

        I recall Rahm’s appointment was also hugely reassuring to AIPAC. But I’ll also note that having Rahm on board didn’t stop Wall Street from complaining bitterly about Obama.

    • witlesschum

      Appointing Kathleen Sibelius to his cabinet was probably worse. A Democrat who could win statewide in Kansas is a lot rarer than someone who could competently run a cabinet department.

      And not getting someone in the DNC who’d focus on and/or not focusing himself on influencing state level politics. Granted, we in Michigan should pull ourselves out this goddamn tailspin but a state that’s been consistently Democrat in presidential elections could be somewhere some presidential attention could get a better Democratic turnout in the off-year governor’s race.

    • FlipYrWhig

      The most important thing Obama could have done to improve Democratic chances in 2010 was to improve the economy

      In retrospect, maybe the first thing they should have done was pass the biggest economic stimulus bill in history. I don’t understand why the way I remember it doesn’t include that at all.

    • EliHawk

      Look: The Rahm isn’t Obama’s worst decision; he isn’t even Obama’s worst Chief of Staff: That would be Bill Daley, actual sop to the business community, who was there for pretty much all of 2011: The Debt Ceiling negotiations, the ‘grand bargain’ talks and all the rest of it. Dumping him for Lew right before the reelect was crucial.

    • Halloween Jack

      Well, being an executive’s chief of staff is probably much different from being the executive. For all of Obama’s considerable virtues, he was still very short on executive experience when he was elected, and it made a lot of sense to have someone with some experience as a fixer and back-room dealer on his team. (Whether it made sense to have someone who was even more of a centrist, or center-rightist, than Obama is another thing entirely.) At any rate, Obama has done better with other chiefs of staff than Rahm has in his own executive experience.

      • FlipYrWhig

        I think Rahm was supposed to be there to wrangle Congressional Dems, just like Dachsle was supposed to be there to wrangle Senate Dems.

  • sharculese

    He argued that there is no choice but to support Hillary against a “self-declared savior” like Donald Trump, perhaps forgetting that Obama was once hailed as such a messiah that Oprah introduced him in 2007 as “the one,” and it became his moniker.

    Also, Barack Obama and Donald Trump both wear pants and have human faces. Interesting coincidence, huh?

    And that’s before you get to the part where Dowd is too dumb to notice she left the ‘self-declared’ bit in.

    • Pseudonym

      No, you’re just missing Dowd’s real journalistic scoop: Obama and Oprah are THE SAME PERSON!

      • Warren Terra

        No, you’ve got them confused with Kareem Abdul Jabar and Michael Jordan.

        • Derelict

          No, kid. It’s Roger Murdock. See? Says so right here on the pilot’s uniform name tag.

          • Linnaeus

            Tell your old man to drag Walton and Lanier up and down the court for 48 minutes.

            • tsam

              Joey…you ever see a grown man naked?

    • Hells Littlest Angel

      … and it became his moniker.

      Sure it did.

      I’ll occasionally click on a Brooks or a Douthat to read the comments, but not on a Dowd — it makes my mouse feel dirty.

      • Keaaukane

        I am not bold enough to get out of the boat to check, but there is a theoretical argument to be made that the comments on a MoDo column would probably be more sensible then the column itself, as she makes no sense at all.

    • MartinAlexander

      Imagine meeting someone like this in person and actually having a conversation with them…I mean how do you communicate,with someone who is,so willfully obtuse.

    • Thrax

      And that’s before you get to the part where Dowd is too dumb to notice she left the ‘self-declared’ bit in.

      I’m always amused by attempts to portray Obama as having some sort of messiah complex, which require ignoring all of the actual evidence. I believe it was Krauthammer in 2008 who claimed that Obama’s line “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for” really meant “I am the one we’ve been waiting for.” Chait on that, and similar efforts, here.


  • howard

    I really don’t read dowd but I did end up reading today’s piece and thinking my god, she’s worse than ever.

  • LosGatosCA

    Dowd is a small petty person with no talent.

    Please put this post on auto repeat for every column she publishes.

    While you are doing that also put this on auto repeat:

    Sullivan is a racist twit who has all the insight to human nature and common good you would expect of a Thatcherite.

    Only the examples change while the obvious conclusions remain the same.

  • Kazanir

    I think MoDo got hooked up with her Colorado brownie supplier again.

    We should be so lucky. Her writing would be substantially less neurotic and possibly even funny.

  • Colorado brownie supplier

    Reefer? My guess would be belladonna.

    • Jimson weed. Or perhaps banana peels.


        Tobacco …………………………. 90 drams
        Extract of stramonium [Jimson weed]…. 5 drams
        Iodide of potassium ………………. 5 drams
        Nitrate of potassium ……………… 5 drams
        Alcohol …………………………. 45 drams

        Mix dry, and make a hundred cigarettes.

        [from T. M. Griffiths, Non-Secret Formulas, St. Louis, 1910]

    • Anna in PDX

      Absinthe is my guess…

  • weirdnoise

    Trump is just the sort of man who would appeal to Dowd’s inflamed obsession with hyper-masculinity. His uncontrolled impulses to dominate others, even when it is working against him, seem to elicit submission in susceptible people.

    • witlesschum

      Yeah, she probably can’t help herself at this point. Think about what that says about a person, when a two-bit hustler with a farce on his head failing to conceal his baldness can perform masculinity well enough to satisfy her love for twisted gender norms. It’s one thing to let that kind of nonsense get into your politics, but to do so and be so hilariously wrong about applying you’re silly standards? She’s no good at being unserious, even.

      It’d be one thing if she was swooning over some dude that Sam Elliot would play in the movie, but it’s Donald Trump for fuck’s sake.

  • All I know is that the girl behind his hand looks rather unnerving.

  • Bob Loblaw Lobs Law Bomb

    perhaps forgetting that Obama was once hailed as such a messiah that Oprah introduced him in 2007 as “the one,” and it became his moniker.

    Holy shit — my Fox News Conservative dad is always trolling me by call Obama “THE ONE” (caps in original). I’ve never had any idea what he was talking about, but it turns out that it came from that random time the president met Oprah.

    I’m always amazed by the random slights and ephemera that work their way into the righty lexicon, but this may beat all.

    • CP

      “It is one of the biggest dividing lines between liberals and conservatives: sensitivity. Liberals are supposed to be the sensitive ones, but even the liberals who worked themselves into a froth over George W. Bush never really cared very much about what he thought of them. But conservatives care what President Obama thinks. They care to the point of imagining what he thinks.”

    • CrunchyFrog

      Hmmm. Well, “The One” does not appear in this long article about Oprah’s endorsing Obama:


      Nor does it appear on a few Google searches. What did happen was McCain calling Obama “That One” in a debate, which the Obama campaign immediately picked up in good humor (and Obama even mentioned it at the traditional press dinner).

      ETA: Ok, just found it:


      But this looks like a major distortion. Here’s the quote:

      “We need a president who can bring us all together,” she said. “I know [Barack Obama] is the one.”

      But here’s the headline:

      Winfrey tells Iowa crowd: Barack Obama is ‘the one’

  • Epicurus

    Dowd defends Rahm because he had a responsibility to inform Obama that he would lose in 2012 she has an unnatural hatred of Hillary Clinton. My opinion, only, of course, but in your heart, you know I’m right!

  • Aardvark Cheeselog

    I think MoDo got hooked up with her Colorado brownie supplier again.

    Please stop slandering pot smokers like this.

    • witlesschum

      Yeah, Dowd failed at being a pothead, remember? She was either too dumb to ask for instructions, too arrogant to heed them and just too dishonest to blame herself, but rather demonized that debbil weed, as I recall.

  • I’m going to guess that Obama didn’t write the script for the video, but if she had a desire to be factual/avoid logical fallacies, she wouldn’t be MoDerp.

    • ColBatGuano

      Wait, you can’t imagine Obama running into the studio and demanding that they call out Rahm explicitly? Such little faith.

  • calling all toasters

    Michael Kelly has been dead for 13 years, and still all this asshole can do is carry on his vileness by spraying a firehose of puke on any liberal grown-ups she can find.

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