Wednesday, October 31, 2007

New York Times: Please replace Maureen Dowd with Digby

Maureen Dowd's gossipy style has always bothered me. It seems to reduce politics to some sort of middle school playground ritual about who is cool and who is not. And Dowd seems to often use silly comparisons and inversions that don't really illuminate anything, like this one in today's column:

Cécilia Sarkozy acts so American, while Hillary Clinton acts so French.

Cécilia at one point left her marriage to go to New York and seek love American-style, while Hillary lost the public love in the ’90s when she tried French-style health care reform.

What is "American" about Cécilia Sarkozy spending time in another country and taking a lover while remaining in a marriage? And what was "French" about reforming American health care? Every industrialized nation has some kind of national health care, not just the French. She could have called it European, or Canadian, or British. And even if these characterizations were accurate, what do the alleged American-ness of Sarkozy and Frenchness of Clinton tell us about anything? What underlying dynamic is illuminated? What mystery is made clear? What policy implications does it have? It's not even very juicy gossip.

The number of French stereotypes Down evokes in this column is ridiculous, and the examples she evokes could just as easily apply to Americans:
The French first lady, the one in a role where wives traditionally ignored and overlooked their husbands’ peccadilloes for the greater gain of keeping their marriages intact and running the Élysée Palace...
Um, are American political wives so different in this respect? Haven't we been treated to a number of American political wives standing by their husbands and overlooking their sexual infidelities? (The cases of Vitter and Craig come to mind, as well as Bill Clinton of course).

Whiskey Fire is a little more than bothered by Dowd:
It's hardly news that Maureen Dowd is a shallow, bitchy Mean Girl more interested in fashion and surfaces than policy. Her place on the NYTimes opinion page reveals the lie that feminism has accomplished all it needed to and we're done with it: she's taking a place which rightly belongs to Digby or Echidne or Katha Pollitt and filling it with gossipy crap, confirming with every word she writes snotty misogynist ideas about what women are interested in and what they're "really" like.
I agree that if Dowd is going to write this kind of stuff, she doesn't really merit a place on the NYT Op-Ed page. Atrios wants her gone, too (I don't think she should be tased, though. Violence is bad). Frankly, I'd rather read a conservative like George Will who I can get exasperated with because he's espousing a political idea I don't like, and who will challenge my liberal orthodoxy.

There are plenty of substantive reasons one can attack Hillary: her vote on the Iraq war, her vote on the Kyl-Lieberman amendment that might enable Bush to blunder militarily into Iran, etc. We don't need these stereotype-drenched playground slurs. If Hillary gets caught with a gay hooker or has a secret heroin habit, then I can see getting gossipy. But this harping on whether her style and demeanor confines itself to the extremely narrow space that Dowd to which thinks it needs to confine itself is silly. There's a place for that kind of talk, certainly. But does it have to be the NYT? How about Dowd get a political gossip blog? She could take over Wonkette's position.


Blogger Mo MoDo said...

If Dowd took over Wonkette, I'd have nowhere to go. I find it funny people get so worked up when she is paying Hillary a very left handed compliment. She thinks Hillary is the best man for the job.

3:44 AM, November 01, 2007  
Anonymous Bill in Minneapolis said...

I really have a hard time reading Dowd's blithering, and I consider myself a liberal Democrat.

I am tired of her and agree that she should not be a New York Times editorial commentator.

So I am in full agreement with your comment pointing this out.

5:21 AM, November 01, 2007  
Blogger Sarah said...

I agree. And sometimes (like on airplanes) I even like to read light gossipy stuff. But not in our paper of record in the A section.

6:17 PM, November 01, 2007  

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