Saturday, November 18, 2006

Maureen Dowd is a Sexist Idiot

The vicious, superficial, Gore-bashing, Democrat-baiting, GOP-meme pushing, High School Kewl Kid pundit Maureen Dowd is back in full form. Her column in today's New York Times, titled "Squeaker of the House" (subscription required), is a hit piece on Nancy Pelosi that recycles all the inane (and GOP-friendly) memes elite Beltway pundits have been repeating ad nauseam about Pelosi and Democrats in the past couple of weeks, with a heaping dose of sexism thrown in for good measure.

Dowd leads off her column by repeating Botox jokes about Nancy Pelosi and Hilary Clinton:
Ted Olson, the former solicitor general and eloquent Republican lawyer who argued the Bush v. Gore case before the Supreme Court, was warming up the rabidly conservative Federalist Society crowd for John McCain with a few sexist cracks about Botox.

The new Congress could amuse itself, he said, by “searching for any sign of movement in Speaker Pelosi’s forehead.” The Senate, he added, would be entertained by “the expressionless, Pelosi-like forehead of Senator Clinton.”
Let's be clear about what Dowd is doing here: she's circulating these sexist memes about Pelosi and Clinton. Her column isn't about the "eloquent" Ted Olson or the "rabidly conservative Federalist Society Crowd" -- it's about Nancy Pelosi. And these are the ideas Dowd chooses to push in that context. Of course, immediately after pimping the Botox jokes, Dowd adds:
It reminded you of just how idiotic Republicans can act sometimes.
Idiotic? I'm not so sure. Rather, I'd say these "rabid conservatives" have Dowd's number -- they know they can count on her, and twits like her, to repeat and promote this hateful stuff.

Dowd continues:
The only thing worse than hearing the first female speaker of the House filleted in such a lame way was seeing the first female speaker of the House flail around in her first big week in such a lame way. It reminded you of just how idiotic Democrats can act sometimes.

Nancy Pelosi’s first move, after the Democratic triumph, was to throw like a girl. Women get criticized in the office for acting on relationships and past slights rather than strategy, so Madame Speaker wasted no time making her first move based on relationships and past slights rather than strategy.
Here's Dowd's argument: Even worse than Ted Olson's sexist cracks about Pelosi and Clinton is the fact that sexist stereotypes about the shortcomings of women in professional settings are actually true of Pelosi, judging by Pelosi's conduct to date as Speaker-elect of the House of Representatives. The sexists are right about Pelosi! Politically speaking, she "throws like a girl." Wow! That's quite a charge. But here's what Dowd comes up with by way of evidence for this startling claim:
Instead of counting votes behind closed doors or even just choosing the best person for majority leader, Ms. Pelosi offered an argument along the lines of: John Murtha’s my friend. He’s been nice to me. I don’t like Steny. He did something a long time ago that was really, really bad that I’m never, ever going to tell you. And I’m the boss of you. So vote for John.
Let me be charitable about this: Maureen Dowd has no idea what she's talking about. Let me be uncharitable about this: Maureen Dowd is a sexist idiot.

Dowd stumbles across the phenomenon of politics, as if for the first time. Had she given this a moment's thought, or had she consulted with someone with an actual interest in politics, she would surely have discovered that loyalty is an exceedingly important factor in making political decisions, that "just choosing the best person" is not a meaningful option in this context, any more than it would be in the context of choosing a husband or a wife.

Dowd takes this mundane reality about politics and the political process -- that loyalty and a history of cooperation are important factors in forging political alliances -- and renders it in crude, sexist terms for the sole purpose of belittling Pelosi. Consider Dowd's trademark manufactured quotes. Apparently Pelosi said something "along the lines of" "He’s been nice to me. I don’t like Steny." Where does this come from? It comes from Maureen Dowd. Maureen Dowd literally invents quotations to mock Pelosi as an irrational schoolgirl! Could Dowd be more of a hack?

Dowd then considers Nancy Pelosi's opposition to Jane Harman as Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. Dowd writes:
Everyone in Washington was perplexed at Ms. Pelosi’s ham-handed effort to sabotage not only Mr. Hoyer but her former friend and fellow Californian, Jane Harman. In what looks like another self-defeating personality clash, she has been maneuvering to bypass the senior member of the House Intelligence Committee and give the chairmanship either to the ethically challenged Alcee Hastings of Florida or a compromise candidate, Silvestre Reyes of Texas.
Everyone in Washington was perplexed by this? Of course, that is an outright falsehood. Pelosi is widely known to disapprove of Harman's performance on the House Intelligence Committee, on the grounds that Harman has been insufficiently partisan and has demonstrated a Lieberman-like propensity to defend the Bush Administration, notably over the warrantless wiretapping program. That Pelosi doesn't like the idea of Jane Harman -- a prominent Democratic hawk and feverish early supporter of the Bush Administration's Iraq policy -- as Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee indicates good judgment on Pelosi's part. It doesn't make sense to entrust the leadership of key House Committees that will be tasked with investigating the Bush White House to Democrats who have been fellow-travellers of the Bush Administration and whose reputations could be damaged as a result of these investigations.

And what does Dowd offer up by way of evidence that Pelosi's opposition to Harman amounts to nothing more than a "self-defeating personality clash"? She quotes "one top Democrat who knows both women". Here's the quote:
“Jane was very aggressive about going on TV; she was on TV so much she could have gotten a SAG card,” said one top Democrat who knows both women. “Nancy resented that and felt Jane was leeching attention away from her leadership role. That had a lot to do with poisoning the relationship.”
What do you even say about this kind of stuff?

So we've come full-circle. We're back to the good old Bill-and-Monica, War-on-Gore days. Maureen Dowd is back, in full form. Yuk.

UPDATE @ 6:00 PM

A few of Maureen Dowd's Greatest Hits:

* Maureen Dowd comlains that Gore and Kerry "allowed themselves to be painted as girlie men" -- having herself been an incessant portrayer of Gore and Kerry as girlie men.

* Maureen Dowd makes up the phony "Who among us doesn't like NASCAR" quote.

* Maureen Dowd writes that Kerry is struggling to prove his manhood to George W. Bush.

* Maureen Dowd says that Kerry is coming off as "Bush's woman" on Imus.

* Maureen Dowd writes of Gore that he "has to pay a fortune to a woman [Naomi Wolf] to teach him how to be a man," and generally makes stuff up to push the meme of Gore as a phony.

* Maureen Dowd ridicules Gore's beard in 2001, likens him to Pepe Le Pew.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Telegrams from Outer Space: David Broder Edition

David Broder's column in yesterday's Washington Post, titled "Facing Up to Reality", is a masterpiece. The genre? Unintended irony. Like David Brooks, Broder does his best work by accident.

Broder writes that just about everyone saw the Democrats' victory coming:
Never was a political wipeout better advertised in advance than the one that hit the Republican Party on Tuesday and cost Don Rumsfeld his job. From the first of my political soundings in the Midwest in early spring, it was clear that the public's frustration with the war in Iraq, the inept performance of the Bush administration after Hurricane Katrina, and the stunning partisanship and tawdriness of the Republican Congress was reaching explosive levels.
He then notes that Bush and Rove are among the only people on the planet who did not see this coming:
The only people who seemed oblivious to the warning signs were President Bush and his political adviser, Karl Rove. Against all evidence, including the warnings of other Republicans, they kept insisting that Republicans would hold the House and Senate. Bush said at his news conference yesterday, "I knew we were going to lose seats," but he acknowledged he was shocked that the twin themes he kept pushing -- taxes and security -- didn't save the GOP from "a thumping."
Broder then uses Bush's obliviousness about political reality in the United States as an occasion to question Bush's grasp of reality in Iraq. Fair enough. But here's what Broder comes up with:
The Democrats will offer Bush alternatives for Iraq and so, presumably, will the Baker-Hamilton commission when it meets with him next week and issues its report in December. James A. Baker III and Lee Hamilton and their colleagues are perfectly positioned to help break the deadlock on that policy -- if Bush is looking for an out.

The question is whether a president who couldn't recognize the reality of an approaching political landslide is any more discerning about spotting a policy and political disaster in the making in a far-off land.

The answer is not at all clear.
The question is whether Bush will be able to spot a policy and political disaster in the making? The answer is not at all clear? Broder may be the only guy on this planet who still hasn't figured out that Bush's Iraq adventure is not a potential disaster or a disaster "in the making," but a complete and actual disaster right now. And what are we supposed to make of Broder's statement that Bush's ability to be "discerning" with respect to Iraq is an open question that will be resolved next week?

"Facing up to Reality" indeed!

I've said it before and I'll say it again: it really says something about contemporary journalism and punditry that a guy as vacuous as David Broder can achieve near-universal recognition as the "Dean" of Washington journalists.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Democrats Take Both Houses of Congress

The AP has called Virginia for Democrat Jim Webb -- now we're just waiting for George "Macaca" Allen to concede.

So the Democrats have won control of both the House and the Senate!

Coming soon: a post-election wrap-up post, an "I got it totally wrong" confession on the Showdown with Iran October Surprise that did not materialize, and a boatload of contempt for Joe Lieberman.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Dear God

If you exist, please let Ned Lamont beat Joe Lieberman in the Connecticut Senate race today. If you do, I promise to try to be a better person through 2007. Amen.

Go Vote for Democrats!

Hey, turn off the computer and go vote for Democratic candidates!