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The Unnecessary Maureen Dowd


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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