What is wrong with Maureen Dowd?

maureen-dowd.jpgSeriously.  What is wrong with her?  And why does the New York Times pay her money to puke this stuff up?  In one column, she likens Hillary Clinton to Dick Cheney, Mommie Dearest, and (get this!) associates her with murderous mom Andrea Yates.  She actually uses the adjective “hysterical” and the verb “snipped” to describe Clinton’s response to a reporter’s question.  Her obvious loathing for women is only acceptable because of her own XX chromosome status–if she were a man, no editor would allow his work into print because of its obvious misogyny.  But, women who are willing to do the boys’ work for them are richly rewarded for their work, aren’t they?  (P.S. to Michelle Obama, who got an honory mention today:  If Hillary isn’t the nominee, you’re the next person Dowd will have in her sights!  UPDATE, March 3:  And we’re off!  Joan Venocchi concern trolls Michelle Obama in the Boston Globe on Sunday.  Isn’t it nice that she points out that it will be “A delicate line for Michelle Obama,” as though the unfair scrutiny she has already received is her fault?  Via firedoglake.)

I know it’s been terribly fashionable to disdain the wakeup call ad, but I’ve got news for you blogboyz:  women 40 and older don’t always see the world the same way younger men (and Maureen Dowd, who’s closer to HRC’s age than she’d like to admit) without children do, and most of them don’t read your blogs.  I don’t see how this ad is “fearmongering” at all–this comparison with the “Daisy” ad is ridiculous.  Most parents go on occasional if not nightly patrols like the one shown here, and the ad is clearly connecting Clinton to a sense of vigilant maternal protection.

My diagnosis of Dowd is that she’s pathologically envious of other Baby Boomers (women especially, but consider her treatment of Al Gore too) who have accomplished something she hasn’t, and she suspects that her position is  highly conditional–that is, she’s only welcome in the boys’ club so long as she does her catty bitchiness routine.  It’s sad for a person of her stature to be so obviously insecure–but then, a strong, confident, tough woman would never get a job as as the token girl on the op-ed pages of the New York Times

27 thoughts on “What is wrong with Maureen Dowd?

  1. Dowd is loathsome. I used to read her, years ago, simply because I read most of the NYT. But I realized that she never was going to have any intelligent analysis in her columns, just specious comparisons and insults delivered in a manner she apparently finds cute. And you’re right: why the times pays her for it remains a mystery.


  2. Well, perhaps she’s an illustration of a phenomenon I’ve unfortunately seen frequently: organizations don’t necessarily want the BEST woman for the job (smartest, most articulate, most outspoken) they want someone who’s a little weak, and who will stay in her segregated corner, someone they can patronize and who won’t challenge the hierarchy of men over women. (Glad to hear though that you had some hiring success this year in your department, though!)


  3. Pingback: Feminist Law Professors » Blog Archive » Maybe You Have Been Wondering What Linda Hirshman and Charlotte Allen Think Of Women Democratic Voters?

  4. Um, not to be a jerk — or even to pick a fight with someone I admire and also, well, in that bloggy sort of way, consider a friend — but it’s not just boy bloggers who found that ad offensive. Bill Richardson, among others, had real issues with it. And, if what you’re looking for is women who’ve criticized it, both Hilzoy and Katherine, of Obsidian Wings, are on the record saying it was nasty. That said, I didn’t think it was that bad. Actually, I thought it was a pretty good ad that highlighted the so-called experience divide yawning between the two candidates. That’s not an issue that will bring me into Hillary’s camp, because I don’t see her as significantly more experienced (and certainly not blessed with better judgement) than Obama. But it is an issue that Obama will have to deal with should he become the nominee and face off against old-as-the-hills McCain. Anyway, just saying.

    As for Dowd, she’s horrid. But I don’t know why. Just how.


  5. OK, Ari–two women at Obsidian Wings’s dislike of the wakeup call ad duly noted! And, I think I saw that Amanda Marcotte didn’t like it either. But, that kind of underscores my sense of the lefty blogs/netroots during this primary season: they’re mostly run by men and the commentors are overwhelmingly male, whereas there are a lot of older women who don’t read blogs, don’t comment on them, and might have a really different read of that ad. Remember what happened to Ned Lamont? That wasn’t an outcome I thought was optimal, but it’s a good example that suggests that the blogosphere can be arrogant and overly confident that the electorate in general will always see things the way they see it.

    I’m left wondering what kind of ads Hillary Clinton can run, and what kind of response she’s allowed to make? She can’t make a negative ad about Obama because then she’d be too much of a meanie, but when she touts her credentials and reliability as she does in that ad, it gets compared to the Johnson “Daisy” ad? And that ad was a total creampuff compared to what McCain and his army of flying 527s will unleash in the general. (By the way, this is not a rant directed at you–it’s about how HRC is going to get slammed no matter what tact she takes.) I’m just astonished at the people who are surprised that Clinton is running an actual campaign, and that that involves pointing out problems she sees in her opponent’s policies, preparation, and experience.

    Kind of related: see Digby’s take on special Clinton Rules for the press, and her sensible warning that Obama likely won’t be spared the same treatment if he’s the nominee: http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2008/03/pressing-issues-by-digby-blogosphere-is.html.


  6. So much to respond to here. And so little time. But I’ll take a crack at a few issues.

    First, you say that the netroots are arrogant and often wrong. I agree. Wholeheartedly. But then we get to the much more complicated question of why left(ish) bloggers like Obama. In other words, is this preference a matter of gender bias (as your comment implies)? Here I think we disagree. Sure, some bloggers don’t like Hillary because they’re sexist. Which they are. But many, many more don’t like her because of her war vote. Indeed, many in the so-called netroots originally preferred Edwards for this reason: he was the most anti-war of the big three. But he lost. So now they’ve moved on to Obama. Again, does sexism play a role in that choice? I’d have to be a fool to say, “no.” But I do think, for many bloggers on the left, the war is a much bigger issue. Civil liberties also matter.

    As for what kind of ads Hillary can run, I don’t know. Like I said, I didn’t think the 3 AM ad was beyond the pale. I thought it was just fine: in tone and content. Not convincing for me, but not unfair in any way. Here’s the thing, though: Hillary no longer has much (nearly any at all, truth be told) chance to win the nomination without resorting to some strategy that most of the left(ish) bloggers find unacceptable: seating the MI or FL delegates, getting the superdelegates to back the candidate with fewer pledged delegates, filing lawsuits over the weird structures of the TX primary/caucus format. And so, most people want her to bow out with grace, without bloodying her opponent too much. Which I don’t think is necessarily fair or right or whatever. But I do think that’s what’s happening.

    Having said all of that, here’s what I do think is fair or right or whatever: her campaign has been a trainwreck, an absolute debacle. And I’m aware that if she were winning, I wouldn’t be saying this. But she’s not. So I am. No plan following Super Tuesday? Are you kidding me? Given that, the time to hit Obama hard, not on race mind you, but hard on issues like the 3 AM ad (because I think that’s an issue ad), was long before now. Now it’s too late. These kinds of ads serve no purpose other than making it harder for a Democrat to be elected president. Because if Obama is nominated, he’ll have this baggage to carry with him into November: “Even the Democrats think he can’t handle the duties of the presidency.” And if it’s Hillary who’s nominated, she’s now going to have to split the party to get the nod. She really is. There’s (almost) no other way. Which isn’t to say that she won’t get the nomination. But she’ll have to do it ugly. And that’s not good for the party or the country. Because the Democrats can’t lose this one. They just can’t. And that’s why the left(ish) bloggers are jumping on her for this ad.

    I think.


  7. Ari, it will probably be the case that neither of them can win without the superdelegates. That’s the system we’ve got, and we’re going to have to live with the consequences no matter what. If Hillary Clinton wins more votes nationally in the primary but still loses the pledged delegate count, I assume the net roots will be just as torn up about the notion of throwing the superdelates to the winner of the delegates who was not the actual preference of most Democratic voters? It’s going to be messy, either way.

    I think it’s really unfair to suggest that “these kinds of ads [i.e. the wakeup call ad] serve no purpose other than making it harder for a Democrat to be elected president.” No, I think the purpose quite clearly is to make one Democrat the winner of the primary! It’s not “too late”–the primary is still on, running an issue ad is what candidates do, and it looks like she’s got a real chance to win both Ohio and Texas tomorrow. (And do you really think that McCain wouldn’t have thought up the “experience” argument to run against Obama if HRC hadn’t tried it first?) Your argument in the last paragraph treads really closely to “how dare she actually run a campaign against my candidate!”


  8. Yes, they’ll both need the superdelegates. I didn’t suggest otherwise. But Hillary will need the superdelegates to side with her even if she’s behind in both the delegate count and, perhaps, the popular vote. Which, the popular vote, you raise as though it’s important in any way other than symbolically. It’s not. You either have to decide to abide by the rules — delegates decide the nomination — or not. That delegates are apportioned in a totally screwy way I’ll grant you. But so what? Those are, as you suggest about superdelegates, the rules. And team Hillary chose to ignore the possibility that they might, after Super Tuesday, not have enough of a lead to knock Obama out of the race. And then he went on his mind-bending winning streak, building up a huge, for this race at least, delegate lead. Which now means that she’ll have to win something like 60% of the remaining pledged delegates in order to go into the convention with the lead. That’s not going to happen. Thus she’ll have to resort to chicanery in order to win the nomination.

    Returning for a moment to your point about the popular vote count: no, very few people, other than Hillary partisans, are going to be at all torn up if she has the lead in that column but not among the pledged delegates and then the superdelegates side with Obama. Wanna know why? The answer, again, is probably a bit of sexism. But really, it’s because that’s the way the system is supposed to work. I don’t like the system, mind you. Unfortunately, as you say, it’s the one we’ve got. And in this system a win is measured by delegates, not popular votes. That’s why the Obama campaign, shrewdly, has focused resources on caucuses. Which are, it should be said, less democratic than primaries. Again, though, those are the rules. So his campaign knows the rules; hers apparently doesn’t (witness their blithering about TX). So what about experience now? Shouldn’t the more experienced hand have known how to play the game. No, in this case, the more experienced hand is talking about changing the rules.

    And because of all of that, no, it won’t be messy if Obama wins with the supers. Because that’s why the supers exist: to throw the more popular candidate over the top and avoid a brokered convention. So if the superdelegates back him, assuming he wins Texas or Ohio (he won’t win Ohio), most people will fall in line. Because he will have followed the rules, will have run a better campaign, and will have a popular movement behind him. But if she wins, absent something that I can’t imagine — like, for instance, she wins every big state from here on out — people will scream if she gets the nomination. And people like me, people who came into this thing liking her very much (and not just because I’m positiively thrilled at the prospect of a woman in the White House), will vote for her with no enthusiasm at all. Not to mention the people who just won’t vote for her — the tens of thousands of students who’ll stay home, just as they have in past elections.

    Also, please don’t misread what I said. Or don’t read only part of what I said and ignore other parts. I think the Hillary ad, had it run earlier, would have been great. She should have had things like that on the airwaves months ago. And she would have had her campaign not been stuck in neutral for what seemed like ever. But it’s too late now. Now all she’s doing is bloodying her opponent. And the only way she can win — see above on the 60% of delegates required from here on out to make up the stagger — is by dirty tricks. Dirty tricks that will, in the best-case scenario, rob the Democratic electorate of enthusiasm. Or, in the worst case, split the party.

    Finally, she gets to run whatever campaign she wants. Nowhere did I say otherwise. But she has to live with the consequences. And more than that, the country will have to. The key thing here is that she doesn’t just have to win Texas and Ohio tomorrow. Which, as you say, she might. She has to win both states by enough that she takes a bite out of Obama’s delegate lead. And she’s not going to do that. Nobody thinks she will. Nobody. Not men. Not women. Not her people. Not his. Nobody. That’s why it’s too late. She can’t win without changing the rules of the game. And if she changes the rules of the game, lots of people will abandon her.

    Oh, one more thing: she’s been treated horribly by the press. And the misogyny on display has been repulsive. But not on the part of the netroots, or the bloggy left, or whatever we want to call it. Don’t conflate the behavior and choices of bloggers, absent real evidence, with Chris Matthews and company. Remember, Hillary voted for the war, she’s in the DLC, she hasn’t take a strong stand on civil liberties, and she’s run a bad campaign. That’s why the bloggers don’t like her. I’ve been willing to forgive her all of that, by the way, because I do like her. Or I did. But the last point, on the bad (and nasty) campaign, isn’t easy to forgive. But if she gets the nomination, I’ll do my best to do so. To forgive her, that is.


  9. Well, Ari, we just disagree! I just don’t get all of the dark, foreboding, garment-rending in your comments, or the threats that Clinton won’t have support in the general election. According to you, Clinton will “have to resort to chicanery” to win the nomination. By campaigning to win in TX and OH, “all she’s doing is bloodying her opponent” and the only way she can win is “by dirty tricks.” Come on!

    Please consider: given all of this, the media bias and the free-floating, nasty sexism you admit is in play, and given her poor strategy this winter, and Obama’s huge money advantage lately, half of us Democrats still support her! (This is where the blogs run into trouble talking only amongst themselves.) Are the votes of working-class people, Latinos, and older women really not as important as those of affluent people and African Americans? It seems like some Obama voters see Clinton supporters as inconvenient speed bumps standing in their way, rather than people who are part of the process. Aren’t we all Democrats here voting in good faith for the person we think will best lead the party and the country? Even if you won’t admit that Hillary Clinton is acting out of good will, won’t you admit that the people of Ohio, Texas, Pennsylvania, Indiana, and Kentucky who want to vote for her are?


  10. Yes, we disagree. But fortunately, I don’t think we’ll have to see what will happen if Hillary wins, if that outcome will split the party, if young people will then stay home in November. Beyond that, though, you seem unwilling to hear some basic facts I’ve presented. Perhaps the sound of rending garments is distracting you? So, to reiterate, Hillary has to win more than 60% of the pledged delegates from this point forward to go into the convention with the lead in that column. Which column, I say again, is the only one that matters based on Democratic Party rules. Except, of course, for the fact that the supers can do pretty much what they want.

    In other words, to win the nomination she has to: A) seat the FL and MI delegates B) convince the superdelegates to support the candidate who does not the have the lead going into the convention C) overturn some or all of the primary/caucuses (most likely TX) D) some combination of the preceeding. Any or all of those are dirty tricks, chicanery, nasty business, etcetera. To argue otherwise is to argue in bad faith. You and many, many other people (including, perhaps, me) may be willing to support the candidate who engages in those tactics. Heck, you might even celebrate that candidate. But a great many other people won’t. Again, I won’t abandon the Democratic Party — at least I don’t think I will — because of the Supreme Court among other issues. But I’m old and set in my ways. I’m used to pulling the lever in the voting booth with one hand and holding my nose with the other. I hoped it would be different this time. Maybe it will.

    Also: working-class voters and Latinos have moved into Obama’s column. Your characterization, then, is at least two weeks out of date. Given that, I don’t know what to make of your question about whether the votes of those groups count more or less than affluent people and African-Americans. Older women, as you say, are still with Hillary. Should their votes count? Yes, I t hink so. And I don’t recall saying otherwise. I bet, then, we can agree that everybody’s vote should count at least once. And yes, nearly half of Democratic primary voters support Hillary. She’s the second or third most recognizable name in the Party; she was the presumptive nominee as recently as ten weeks ago; she has the full weight of the Democratic machine in a number of states behind her. And yet, she can’t put this thing away! Why? Again, she’s run a terrible campaign, among the worst I’ve ever seen.

    Finally, on the question of good faith: I have no idea why people vote the way they vote, whether for Obama, Hillary, or McCain. For some it’s good faith, the sense that their woman or man is the right person for the job. For others it’s racism. Or sexism. Or something else. Honestly, I don’t spend much time thinking about such things. Except for this: I know why I voted for Obama. And I have no trouble believing that you voted for Hillary because of your conviction that she’s the best choice to represent the Democratic Party. That’s enough for me. And because of that, I’ll happily agree to disagree. We can take this up again tomorrow night, when we’ll know a whole lot more about where things are headed. I hope.


  11. Ari–you seem more than a little worked up about this. I’m not “unwilling to hear some basic facts,” I just disagree with your analysis! (You’ve been trying to get me to see the light for over a month now–it won’t work.) Neither Obama nor Clinton can win without the Superdelegates, there are still a lot of people who have yet to vote, and I reject your notion that it’s “bad faith” to let more people vote! It ain’t over until it’s over. If as you believe Obama has the superior campaign, then he’ll win. Right? Isn’t it all about “hope?”


  12. No, Historiann, running the better campaign doesn’t guarantee victory. Surely you know this. And no, I’m not trying to convince you to change your mind about Hillary. I respect your choice and why — I think — you’ve made it. Just as I respect the choices of most other Hillary partisans. She’s an impressive person, and, absent the long list of mistakes her campaign has made, a great candidate. In any other year, I’d have been proud to support her. Until recently, that is. And no, again, I’m not very worked up. It was a spirited discussion, I thought. And a pretty good one. But I won’t back down, even in the face of comments about the rending of garments or my becoming worked up, from my point that you’ve cherrypicking evidence to support your argument. You seem impervious to the idea that one of these two candidates will have a pledged delegate lead come the convention, that one of these two candidates has broached the idea of seating the MI and FL pledged delegates (despite having agreed not to before the primary season began), that one of these two candidates has talked of lawsuits (before the fact) to change the results in TX, etcetera. These are dirty tricks, Historiann. As I noted above, you may be willing to look away while they’re employed. That’s fine. But it’s a very selective reading of the evidence before us.

    Again, we disagree. And give that I’m a guest here, I’m grateful that you’ve allowed me to say my piece. Now, I’m going to shut up. And wait by my television, all day long, for the results from today’s contests. (Actually, I’ll be by the computer most of the day, writing, so I’ll also see if you post anything new.)


  13. Well, it’s darned unfair–I won’t call it a “dirty trick,” however–to say that it’s time for Clinton to drop out now that your candidate has a lead in pledged delegates! And, fortunately, I’m in the majority with my fellow Democrats, who want Clinton to stay in the race:


    Whomever wins has *by definition* run the better campaign. The winner of the Democratic Primary is the person best suited to run in the general. All of a sudden with late polls out of both Ohio and Texas showing that Hillary’s got some momentum, it seems like you’re getting a little weak in your populism! The polls reflect something I’ve seen myself making phone calls for the Clinton campaign: there are lot of little old ladies in North Texas who are fired up to vote for Hillary, or they’ve already done so, and more of them this weekend and today than there were a few weeks ago.


  14. Whomever wins has *by definition* run the better campaign.

    Yes, this is what I’ve been saying all along. And as Obama now has a 180(ish) pledged delegate total lead, a lead that *might* slip by as much as, gasp, 10% tonight, who do you think is running the better campaign? Then there’s this troubling issue: his lead might increase tonight. Even if he loses the popular vote in TX, OH, and RI. Oh noes, then what will Clinton do? Say that pledged delegates don’t matter? Probably. Say that the voices of MI and FL voters must be heard? Almost certainly. Keep claiming that the popular vote is a measure of, um, something? Yep. Sigh.


  15. Well, right now I’ve got a couple chapters of my book written, so maybe I should stop writing and publish what I’ve got, because it’s a book already, right? Right now, a few daffodil and hyacynth leaves are poking out of the ground, so let’s pick them now and call them a bouquet! My students who have A’s and B’s at midterm would really like to play by your rules! Don’t you understand how silly you sound in making the argument that we should call the game at half-time because your team is ahead, and if the other team keeps playing to win they’ll destroying the game of football forever? (Gee, what would the Obama people say if Hillary did that? Hmmmnnn…evidence of her sense of “entitlement,” and evidence of course of her monstrous, inhuman, selfish AMBITION!)

    If you’re really confident that Obama is the best candidate and that he’s run the best campaign, and you’re equally sure that Clinton is fatally flawed and has run a terrible, unfair, dirty-tricks, incompetent, wretched, miserable campaign, then it will all work out in the end. Hope much?


  16. Historiann, let me try this one more time. I’m not saying that we should call the game when my team is ahead. Or that we should pick the daffodils just as they’re poking their little heads from the still-frozen ground. And I’m not even saying that Hillary can’t keep running, if that’s what she wants to do.

    But I AM saying — sorry, here we go again — that she can’t win without: A) seating the MI or FL delegates B) overturning the results of one of the primaries already in the books C) getting the superdelegates to back her even though she’ll be behind, by a considerable margin, in the pledged delegate count come the convention D) some combination of A, B, and C. How are you not hearing me say that?

    So, you can keep calling me silly. Or saying that I’m rending my garments. Or getting angry. But none that is true. I do, though, think you’re not willing to see that the only way Hillary wins is to play dirty. Because my argument is based on math. I can understand not liking it. I can understand thinking that Obama’s lead has been achieved through less democratic strategy. And I can understand saying that Hillary can win. But I can’t understand pretending that such a win won’t carry with it some costs for the party and the country.


  17. Historiann,

    I liked your comments about MoDo and have enjoyed your running commentary with Ari. FWIW, I think you have the better argument since I am a Clinton supporter.

    Let the people vote. I believe that Barack has outspent Hillary in Ohio 2 to 1 and in Tx 3 to 1. Both states will have 2 weeks of the up close and personal with Barack. In the previous primaries, the operating meme was that the more the peole got to know Barack, the more they like him and vote for him. We will see if that holds.

    If Barack doesn’t beat her in both states, I think it shows the momentum has changed.

    Neither candidate has enough delegates to win the nomination outright. The Superdelegates will have to decide. Those are the rules. There are no guidelines on how they should pick the winner. They are free to choose.

    It does sound to me a little boorish, and perhaps even thuggish, that the Barack internet supporters threaten to split the party or stay home if they don’t get their way.


  18. Ari–I don’t see D) as dirty pool–as you’ve said earlier in the thread, them’s the rules we’ve got, and if Clinton can win in big swing states like PA and OH, that’s a compelling argument for the Superdelegates to swing their vote to Clinton. Even if we put aside the fact that caucuses are undemocratic and unrepresentative of the Democratic electorate–you leave out option E) a do-over in Florida and Michigan. (See the comments thread in the post above, esp. GayProf’s comments on the disenfranchisement of Michigan voters.) I would strongly support that, rather than the seating of the Clinton delegates from those two states, which would indeed be unfair.

    BEW–thanks for your comments, although you’re an admitted partisan! I agree with you that today’s election results could portend a change, but we’ll see…


  19. If you can arrange for do-over in MI and FL, I’ll agree to campaign for Hillary from this point forward. Seriously, I’d love to see it. But it’s not going to happen.


  20. Pingback: I need to drop out. « The Edge of the American West

  21. Pingback: The "New Math"–for girls! | Historiann

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