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

'Tis a Privilege to Live in Colorado, as long as you don't work in higher ed

colorado_flag.jpgThe Denver Post proclaims, “‘Tis a Privilege to Live in Colorado” on its weather page most mornings.  But, since Historiann moved her entire household here in 2001, Colorado has been the state that keeps on giving in terms of embarassing news in general (Ted HaggardCrazy killersTom TancredoFocus on the Family!), and embarassing news about higher education in particular.  Back in 2001-03, Colorado should have changed its nickname from “The Centennial State” to “The Rape State” (thanks, CU Football rape team, Kobe Bryant, and Air Force Academy cadets, all of whom chose college women as their victims).  2003 was the year too that David Horowitz came to Colorado and met with the (then) Republican Governor and the President of the Colorado Senate to introduce his so-called “Academic Bill of Rights,” and the Governor (unsuccessfully) tried to get a political hack crony appointed President of Colorado State University

Ready for more?  (Take a deep breath!)  2004 was the year that the President of the University of Colorado, in a lawsuit stemming from the rape team’s hijinx, claimed in a deposition that the C-word (yes, that C-word!) wasn’t necessarily a misogynist insult, because in the middle ages it was a term of endearment.  (Nice try, but I don’t think there were too many Middle English scholars on the rape team, do you?)  2004 was also the year that two college students, one at CU and another at CSU famously drank themselves to death.  2005 was the year that Ward Churchill became the gift that kept on giving to Bill O’Reilly and other right-wing bottom-feeders.  Never mind that it’s only losing football coaches who make the big bucks around here–those of us who actually teach don’t have time to indoctrinate our students politically because we’re working so hard to make sure they finally understand the Investiture Controversy, or Dred Scott v. Sanford, or the correct use of apostrophes.  Despite the right-wing screams that conservatives can’t get a job around here, the actual history of faculty abuse in Colorado is that whisper campaigns calling people “Communists” is the only way to get someone dismissed without evidence and without cause. 

Now comes the news, courtesy of Inside Higher Ed, that Colorado now supports its prisons at nearly equal rates as it supports its colleges and universities.  State funding for prisons stands now at 78 cents for every dollar sent to higher education–compared to a rate of 18 cents on the dollar twenty years ago.  You don’t have to be a Marxist feminist to wonder if all of the political attacks on higher education, the absence of penalties for (and thus the perpetuation of) college men’s violent, drunken behavior, and the embarrassing incompetence in higher ed leadership in this state might be part of a conspiracy to undermine people’s willingness to support our institutions of higher learning at anything more than Wal-Mart rates.  Meanwhile, this state imports people with college degrees from everywhere else in the country because we can’t make enough of our own.  (This may not be a bad trend in the short run–perhaps sensible, well-educated people from California, Ohio, Illinois, and New Jersey can knock some sense into the local yokels that run this state.)

Many of you dear readers work in public higher ed in other states.  Tell me you’re all better off where you live.  Tell me how can we turn this thing around, and spend more money helping people here get college degrees instead of felony rap sheets.  (And, once they enroll, please tell me how to ensure that they don’t start their life of crime in college, as so many Colorado men seem to!)

CU columnist suspended, still not funny; Jonathan Swift's reputation intact

The Rocky Mountain News reports that racist clod Max Karson has been suspended from his position at the University of Colorado’s student newspaper, the Campus Press.  Quoth the venerable Rocky:  “Karson ignited a firestorm last week when his piece titled ‘If it’s war the Asians want … It’s war they’ll get,’ infuriated some students and past members of the Campus Press staff who said the piece was inflammatory and a failed attempt at satire.”

Satire?  What are those kids up in Boulder smoking?  Last time I checked, satire was at least clever, if not ha-ha funny.  But Karson’s column reads like one of those e-mails about “Barack HUSSEIN Obama,” the Muslim ‘Manchurian Candidate’ that your crazy racist great-uncle forwards to you three times a week. 

The absurd comparison of Karson with Swift calls to mind an old cartoon that ran in Spy Magazine in the 1980s that is weirdly appropriate now with yesterday’s news of the death of William F. Buckley, Jr.  It was a picture of two books, captioned:  “THEN:  God and Man at Yale.  NOW:  God and Man at SUNY Stony Brook.”  (Does anyone else remember that, or know where I can get a digital copy?  Spy is about the only great thing that came out of the 1980s.  Surely there must be some short-fingered vulgarians out there who can help me?)

Benson voted next Prez of CU

Well, it looks like oilman and Republican Party hack Bruce Benson will be the next President of the University of Colorado.  All six Republican members of the Board of Regents voted in support of Benson.  Congratulations!  What a distinguished choice.

Good thing too–all those crazy liberals up in Boulder need to be shown who’s in charge.  (Confidential to the Board of Regents:  haven’t you noticed that you’re the only deliberative body left in the state that’s not run by Democrats?  Confidential to the Democratic majority Colorado General Assembly:  you can just send all of that money you won’t be sending to Boulder up to Fort Collins instead.)

UPDATE Feb. 25:  See Stanley Fish’s strange analysis in the New York Times today.  He writes, “While it would be wrong to take into account the political affiliations or business connections or wealth of a candidate for a faculty position, it would be wrong not to take these things into account when choosing a president,” implying that Benson would therefore be a reasonable candidate.  This would only make sense if Benson were a Democratic hack instead of a Republican hack.  (Why is it only Historiann who seems to know that THE ENTIRE STATE IS RUN BY DEMOCRATS NOW, so therefore appointing a prominent Republican would seem NOT to be in CU’s interest?  Duh!)  This article also points to the parallel situation in West Virginia that RadReadr suggested in the comments below a few days ago.  Maybe appointing people with business or political values instead of academic values isn’t such a smart plan after all?  Gee whiz!  (H/t to ej who e-mailed me the link to the Fish article.)

Patty Limerick's Valentine to Bruce Benson

cowboy-heart.jpgWhat is up with Patricia Limerick these days?  Aside from being the Director of the Center of the American West at the University of Colorado (CU), she writes occasional op-ed pieces as an advocate for Western issues like water and dirt.  This morning, I cracked open my hard copy of the Denver Post to find her endorsement for right-wing hack Bruce Benson to become the next president of her university.  With apologies to my out-of-state and international readership, I’ve already addressed this foolishness, if only for the realpolitik concept that the ENTIRE STATE IS NOW RUN BY DEMOCRATS.  But, Historiann just can’t let this one go.

So, back to Limerick:  she starts her op-ed with an unconvincing apologia for the fact that Benson is one of one finalists for the job.  She explains, “when news gets out that a top university administrator is a finalist for a job at another institution, that person is in jeopardy. At the very least, the people she works with will look at her with distrust. At the worst, she may end up, in short order, no longer holding that job.  Hence, the idea of announcing a list of several finalists is a dream that cannot find a home in the cutthroat world of our times.”  Really?  Let’s look at comparable searches elsewhere.  I wonder how Colorado State University ever got 2 people with distinguished academic careers to interview publicly just five years ago?  Who knew that the delicate flowers who compete for these jobs were taking such incredible risks?  Back in the reality-based community, they’re not:  it seems more typical than unusual that two to four finalists are named.

Next, she addresses his lack of academic qualifications:  “Others believe that Benson’s lack of a Ph.D. disqualifies him for the presidency.”  Call me an old stick-in-the-mud, but I think it’s only fair that people in the top jobs at universities have to match at least the minimum requirements that our beginning assistant professors must meet.  You know, the people that he’ll be asked either to tenure or fire in 6 years?  Finally, she suggests that his history of partisan hackery and lack of academic qualifications is a net bonus for CU:  “In fact, the very habits of expression that make some faculty and students wince when they listen to Benson are exactly the habits that could persuade a majority of Coloradans to appreciate CU and recognize its need for greater financial support.”  Whaaaaa?  I guess the literal translation of that is, “The majority of Coloradoans are dumb hicks like Benson, and he’ll be better able to pick their pockets on behalf of CU.”  Limerick evidently holds both her fellow Coloradoans and her academic colleagues in such low esteem that she thinks the latter can’t really talk to the former effectively about their pointy-headed schemes, let alone convince anyone that they’re worth supporting.  Pretty patronizing, Professor.

I can’t put it any better than a long-time worker in higher education I know, who says “the fact is that for the past 14 years, at least, Republicans have engaged in a slash-and-burn attack on public institutions of all kinds, including–and perhaps especially–higher education, and in particular colleges of liberal arts.  Now, suddenly, students, professors, staff, and other citizens are to believe that all is forgiven, forgotten, and recanted. . . . .Any clear-headed, clear-eyed historical analysis would suggest that right now, Benson and his ilk are as much captives of a hostile political environment that they created as much as they are victims of mindless, knee-jerk liberal reaction.”  [Historiann would argue moreso.]  “Conservatives–former conservatives?–are running for cover right now, and it appears that Benson has found a pretty good refuge in which to make himself over as a broad-minded, public-spirited citizen.”  What a scam!  You know what they say, though:  IOKIYAR (It’s O.K. if you’re a Republican)!

UPDATE:  Hot off the presses–the CU Boulder Faculty Assembly voted 40-4 tonight against a resolution in support of Benson’s candidacy.  (Warning:  the link is to a Rocky Mountain News story, so skip the comments unless you’ve got a strong stomach.  Those commenters seem to ratify Limerick’s dim view of Coloradoans, sad to say. . . but take a look:  do you think those people are going to open up their checkbooks and vote for tax increases to support CU?  I mean, once they wipe the Chee-to crumbs off of their sweatshirts?)  The vote tonight is only advisory, as the CU Board of Regents has the final say next Wednesday.  The faculty also passed a resolution to ask the Regents to re-open the search for a new president.

Do they kiss their daughters with those mouths?

I read this morning in the Denver Post that a State Representative here in Colorado, Larry Liston (R-Colorado Springs, natch!called unwed teenage mothers “sluts” in a Republican caucus meeting Wednesday morning.  The Colorado Springs Gazette reported his comments, and to his credit, he apologized for his remarks on the floor of the House today.

Then, I click on over to Talking Points Memo for a little news fix, and I see that MSNBC’s David Shuster is taking heat for asking Bill Press last night, “doesn’t it seem like Chelsea [Clinton is] sort of being pimped out in some weird sort of way?” in the service of her mother’s campaign for the presidency.  (Would he have made the same observation about the Romney campaign’s “Five Brothers,” who have each spent most of the entire last year on the campaign trail for their Dad?  Should I stop asking questions to which I already know the answer?)  Shuster is supposedly going to offer an on-air apology today, too.

Grow up, boys.  I know teh Lady Parts make you really nervous and giggly sometimes, but get a grip.  Do you want your daughter talked about like that? 

UPDATE:  Shuster is temporarily suspended from all NBC broadcasts.  Wow–that was fast.  I guess that’s the difference between talking about “pimping” the daughter of a President, and say, calling the Rutgers University women’s basketball team “nappy-headed hos.”  It took CBS nearly a week to fire Don Imus, but don’t worry folks:  he’s back on the air

Senatorella for President

New campaign slogan:  She’s got the smarts and the lady parts!

heathers.jpgIt’s caucus day here in my square state.  While I’m out doing my civic duty, here’s an interesting review by Susan Faludi of a new book called Thirty Ways of Looking at Hillary:  Reflections by Women Writers, edited by Susan Morrison.  (H/t to the lovely and talented Amanda Marcotte.)  It sounds like the book should be called Thirty Ways of Looking at Hillary by a Bunch of Jealous Heathers, plus a sensible essay by Katha Pollitt, although she’s voting for Barack Obama today.  What is it with Baby Boomers and their pathological envy of the Clintons?  I’ve always assumed that there was no small amount of class bias in the embarassingly obvious ressentiment of Maureen Dowd and the Washington establishment crowd.  Who did those hicks from Arkansas think they were, anyway?  (Well, Little Rock via those hick schools Wellesley, Georgetown, and Yale.)  Faludi’s review is a brief but brilliant foray into the gendered nature of Clinton-obsession, the Hillary version.  (Not that my generation should be let off the hook–although it would be nice if someone other than the obtuse Katie Roiphe were invited to comment, she who dismisses rape and Hillary Clinton because no one she knows has been raped or likes Hillary Clinton.  Well, no one I know likes Katie Roiphe, so there.)

The best part of the review is the introduction, where Faludi makes a counterfactual proposition that highlights the trivial issues the writers in this volume use to judge Hillary Clinton.  Faludi writes, “let’s imagine this book’s concept-30 well-known women writers talk about how they ‘feel’ about Hillary Clinton-applied to 30 male writers and a male presidential candidate. Adjusting for gender, the essay titles would now read: ‘Barack’s Underpants,’ ‘Elect Brother Frigidaire,’ ‘Mephistopheles for President,’ ‘The Road to Codpiece-Gate,’ and so on. Inside, we would find ruminations on the male candidate’s doggy looks and flabby pectorals; musings on such ‘revealing’ traits as the candidate’s lack of interest in backyard grilling, industrial arts and pets; and mocking remarks about his lack of popularity with the cool boys on the playground (i.e., the writers and their ‘friends’). We would hear a great deal of speculation about whether the candidate was really manly or just ‘faking it.’ We would hear a great deal about how the candidate made them feel about themselves as men and whether they could see their manhood reflected in the politician’s testosterone displays.” 

Seriously people, get over it:  it’s not about you–not about your unresolved conflict with your mother, not about your discomfort with ambitious middle-aged women (even if you are one too), and not about your need to pretend you know which superior choices the Senator supposedly should have made instead at any point in her well-documented life.  Cowboy up.  Git ‘er done. 

UPDATE:  Ruth Rosen, who will be appearing at the Berkshire Conference in June to speak on the topic of “Changes and Continuities in U.S. American Feminism, 1890-1990,” offers a different opinion in “Why Would a Feminist Vote for Obama?”

UPDATE II:  Perez Hilton endorses HRC!  (Hillary Rodham Clinton, not the Human Rights Campaign, although I assume he’s probably cool with both HRCs.)

UPDATE III:  Via Feminist Law Professors, here’s a great commentary on the mysterious, inscrutable origins of Hillary hating at Feminist Philosophers.  I think they’ve gotten to the bottom of it!