Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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March 10, 2008
By: Christina Larson

Dowd's Obama Fantasy ... I'm still puzzled that Maureen Dowd devoted so many words in her Sunday column to informing readers that she was a messy eater and a fan of good ol' American BBQ sauce before launching into a discussion of Obama and his staffers' latest alleged problem: appearing "effete and vaguely foreign -- the same unflattering light that doomed Michael Dukakis and John Kerry."

She doesn't tell us that Obama looks wiry and is chomping gum to ward off cigarette cravings -- that wouldn't fit her stereotype -- but instead is "slender, chewing Nicorette and perfectly groomed in his crisp white shirt."

Even weirder is how she presents Samantha Power: "the Dublin-born Harvard expert on human rights who dryly refers to herself as 'genocide chick' [who] hit London to promote her new book." The implication, I guess, is that if you were born in Ireland, you couldn't possibly understand America.

Aside from this being a lame attack on anyone, it's especially odd coming from Dowd. Her father grew up in County Clare, Ireland. And Dowd herself often has written, both fondly and ferociously, about Irish culture and heritage. That doesn't prevent her from enjoying BBQ sauce.

The question of how "tough" an image Obama needs to project to the American public is a legitimate one. But painting the candidate and his team as "effete and vaguely foreign" in order to say that's a problem for them -- that's just silly.

Christina Larson 3:38 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (69)

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Dowd occasionally lands a good verbal jab, but her occasional cleverness is insufficient compensation for her chronic inanity.

Posted by: Tony Greco on March 10, 2008 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

Arrrgh, this woman.

Posted by: Boorring on March 10, 2008 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

The continued ability of Dowd and Friedman to be published at the Times is one of life's little puzzles. Does anyone really pay attention to either of them anymore?

Posted by: demisod on March 10, 2008 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

Oh look, it's a sex scandal...

That ought to keep Dowd busy for awhile.

Posted by: David W. on March 10, 2008 at 4:27 PM | PERMALINK

Does she have an addiction problem? Years ago she was funny and something happened. Now she is bitter and nasty and even her jabs smell alcohol induced. I don't bother reading her anymore.

Posted by: jen flowers on March 10, 2008 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

dowd's an asshole. and a predictable one at that. there she goes again, feminizing the democratic party.

Posted by: mencken on March 10, 2008 at 4:32 PM | PERMALINK


Posted by: mhr on March 10, 2008 at 4:33 PM | PERMALINK

Not that I particularly like the vomit that Dowd espews, but some of Obama's advisors do appear to me like a bunch of effete and vaguely foreign academicians. And before you all gang up, I used to be in academia too. Since leaving I have been in industry and now gov'mint. And I can say that while academia has its place in the world by giving birth to new ideas. Having academicians in government is just.not.going.to.work.

Posted by: optical weenie on March 10, 2008 at 4:33 PM | PERMALINK

it's especially odd coming from Dowd.

Everything Dowd writes is especially odd. I can barely read the first paragraph.

Posted by: Mike on March 10, 2008 at 4:34 PM | PERMALINK

"effete and vaguely foreign" WILL be a problem for Obama - because Dowd, Matthews, and their cohort will make up an issue around it, same way they did with Kerry, Dukakis, and, of course Gore and Edwards.

Let's see if liberals let them get away with it, the way we let them get away with trashing Gore, Kerry and the Clintons.

Posted by: Dawn on March 10, 2008 at 4:35 PM | PERMALINK

Powers and Obama are more attractive than MoDo. Thus, enemies.

Posted by: HeavJ on March 10, 2008 at 4:38 PM | PERMALINK

Glenn Greenwald has a good take on this "gender dilemma" crap in his current article "War cheerleaders ask: "Is Obama man enough to be president?"

Of course one of the biggest pom-pom girls is the lovely and popular Glenn Reynolds.

Posted by: Joshua Norton on March 10, 2008 at 4:38 PM | PERMALINK

Dowd herself, called Obama, a starlet.

DOWD (2/6/08): Even though Obama stopped smoking when he started running for president, he has lost five pounds racing around the country. Just like Hollywood starlets, he works out religiously and he can make a three-course meal out of a Nicorette….
[This paragraph appeared only in the print edition. It was scrubbed from the web]

In another instance, she calling him Obambi as a method of labeling him as effeminate.

That woman is seriously disturbed, a Chris Matthews in drag.

Posted by: Mike on March 10, 2008 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

Although you certainly don't run across people as smart, interesting, and verbally adroit as Obama every day, I've gotta say, he's not really all that different from a large number of my friends and associates. This kind of thing makes me wonder: are we really that weird? Do regular(? normal? real?) Americans really look at us like aliens?

It's not like I'm some effete snob or anything. I grew up redneck, in fact. But it seems pretty weird to me to think that Obama seems that weird...

Posted by: Winston Smith on March 10, 2008 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

You're kidding us right Christina? The reason I ask this is I really can't imagine what country you've been living in if you've just now noticing that Maureen Dowd has some real gender-bashing issues going on.

That's just now as in after 10 years of Dowd painting various Democrats as either basically "too gay" if they are male or "too butch" if they are female.

Are you really just noticing this now?! She had Al Gore "lactating" for crying out loud? John Edwards was a "Breck girl". Does this give you some sense of the twisted garbage cluttering up her psychosexual attic?

Her hatred for the Clintons and anyone "related", e.g. Gore is so obvious I think it should be embarrassing to anyone (even an Obama supporter) to read.

Posted by: JR1 on March 10, 2008 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

Over the past week, Democrat Hillary Clinton has proclaimed her potential Republican rival John McCain to be the gold standard of wartime presidents. But lost in Clinton's fierce barrage against Barack Obama's national security experience is the inescapable conclusion about John McCain's own suitability as Commander-in-Chief. McCain's mistake-filled record, questionable judgment, calamitous misreading of history, nonchalance about American casualties and notorious short fuse all combine to make him a dangerous choice to lead an America at war. Simply put, John McCain is unfit for command.

For the details, see:
"John McCain: Unfit for Command."

Posted by: Raging on March 10, 2008 at 4:46 PM | PERMALINK

"Let's see if liberals let them get away with it, the way we let them get away with trashing Gore, Kerry and the Clintons."

It's not enough for us to defend him, he must defend himself.

Posted by: Doctor Jay on March 10, 2008 at 4:46 PM | PERMALINK

Unfortunately Dowd almost always comes across as someone who needs a strong daddy figure that she can swoon over, ala Chris Matthews and his manly man man-love.

Posted by: Neal on March 10, 2008 at 4:47 PM | PERMALINK

Why bother to criticize the particulars of a MoDo column? As commenter brewmn said over at TAPPED earlier today, each MoDo column "boils down to the following: Republicans are manly men, if, like typical lunkheaded males, often wrongheaded. Democrats are always girls, unless they are actually female, in which case they are men."

Posted by: low-tech cyclist on March 10, 2008 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

The New York Times went through a long period when its Op-Ed page was behind a subscription wall, so I got into the habit of never reading it.

I haven't broken that habit, and may not. But there is something in this observation about Obama. Remember, what counts is not whether one person or another considers Obama "effete and vaguely foreign" but whether a significant number of voters do. Actually the problem is even more specific for him now, because a lot of Democratic voters who probably would support him against a Republican will be less likely to support him against a more conventional (read: white) Democrat, especially one with a familiar name.

This, I think, is mostly about the disadvantage of being something new. There are advantages to compensate for this, of course: Obama is building his campaign on them. It's just that to some voters, novelty is a little suspect. Many candidacies have foundered on it in the past (admittedly some of them, like Giuliani's or Romney's this year, had other problems as well). But Presidential candidates have overcome the disadvantage of novelty before -- an evangelical Southern Christian in 1976, an ideological conservative in 1980, a centrist Democrat in 1992. As long as the Obama campaign is aware of the ways in which novelty can be a negative, there shouldn't be any reason he can't overcome them.

Posted by: Zathras on March 10, 2008 at 4:54 PM | PERMALINK

It's not enough for us to defend him, he must defend himself.

Necessary, yes, but not sufficient.

Posted by: Dawn on March 10, 2008 at 4:56 PM | PERMALINK

feminizing the democratic party.

I was going to make the same point that low-tech cyclist makes, mencken-- Dowd only feminizes male Democrats. She masculinizes female ones. Also, "tough" = "conservative" = "good."

There, now you have every Maureen Dowd column ever written.

Posted by: Elvis Elvisberg on March 10, 2008 at 5:02 PM | PERMALINK

As someone whose parents also hail from County Clare - I must hang my head in shame.....

All is not lost however - Patrick Fitzgerald's parents also come from the Banner County - Up Clare!

Posted by: mo on March 10, 2008 at 5:03 PM | PERMALINK

Maureen Dowd. Vapid. The woman is vapid. That is all.

Posted by: David in NY on March 10, 2008 at 5:08 PM | PERMALINK

Not that I particularly like the vomit that Dowd espews, but some of Obama's advisors do appear to me like a bunch of effete and vaguely foreign academicians.

Not like those robust man's men Karl Rove, Doug Feith, Wolfowitz, etc. etc......Please. You couldn't find a more weedy, epicene, vaguely effeminate bunch than them.

Posted by: Stefan on March 10, 2008 at 5:08 PM | PERMALINK

Readers of the Daily Howler will recognize this Dowdism
She does this shit all the time
All the time
Has been for years

She loves Bush-wackin, beer-drinkin men

Posted by: Mr DeBakey on March 10, 2008 at 5:15 PM | PERMALINK

I'd like to see Barack light up a Camel and blow a big ol' stream of smoke right in Dowd's face, and then wait to see if she re-considers her estimation of his manliness.

Posted by: bluestatedon on March 10, 2008 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

Anyone that buys their BBQ from Popeyes when in Texas should be largely ignored (Popeye's biscuits I can understand, but not their BBQ).

Posted by: tom.a on March 10, 2008 at 5:27 PM | PERMALINK

I'm still puzzled that Maureen Dowd devoted so many...

For some strange reason I was unable to read anything past this point.

Posted by: e henry thripshaw on March 10, 2008 at 5:35 PM | PERMALINK

Her columns would still be lame if they were published on Entertainment Tonight online. But putting it in the NYT?

My only conclusion is that the NYT has it's own, neo-con agenda. Their bias towards war with Muslims has been/is pretty obvious. Obama, of all the candidates, would probably kill the least number of Arabs. Their beating up on Hillary complicates the theory though.

Posted by: luci on March 10, 2008 at 5:38 PM | PERMALINK

How do we petition the New York Times to reintroduce the subscription wall? God, life was easier when we didn't have to read either Dowd or Friedman.

Posted by: corpus juris on March 10, 2008 at 5:39 PM | PERMALINK

The crazy thing is that Krugman, following Somerby, had already predicted that Obama would be described as "vaguely alien". And now she does it. Someone should write a script that writes MoDo columns.

Posted by: matt on March 10, 2008 at 5:44 PM | PERMALINK

And the universe exhaled a gigantic Who-Gives-A-Fuck

Posted by: absent observre on March 10, 2008 at 6:02 PM | PERMALINK

The question of how "tough" an image Obama needs to project to the American public is a legitimate one.
We've all seen tough, it's not working. Can we please try smart.

Posted by: bjd on March 10, 2008 at 6:07 PM | PERMALINK

Low tech cyclist has it right "each MoDo column "boils down to the following: Republicans are manly men, if, like typical lunkheaded males, often wrongheaded. Democrats are always girls, unless they are actually female, in which case they are men."" Though I think this is a consistent Republican/conservative theme and not just with Dowd.

Posted by: Paul on March 10, 2008 at 6:12 PM | PERMALINK

Jesus, is there any Democrat that MoDo DOES like? There are a lot of adjectives I could use and have used to describe Barack Obama, but "effete" and "foreign" are most certainly not among them.

And while I could probably think any number of choice terms to describe Maureen Dowd, "harridan" will have to do for now.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on March 10, 2008 at 6:55 PM | PERMALINK

I hear Dowd likes watermelon and fried chicken too.

Posted by: Timmah on March 10, 2008 at 7:20 PM | PERMALINK

100 Reasons Not to Vote for Hillary Clinton


Posted by: mica on March 10, 2008 at 7:33 PM | PERMALINK

Why is Obama just now quitting smoking?

He lookes effete because he is graceful. He does not look "wiry" although he does look thin. I don't know about looking foreign but when one is born in a foreign country and has lived in a foreign country, foreign is generally an appropriate term.

Bambi was a male deer. The guy on Scrubs is called Bambi. When she called him Bambi she implied that he was young, naive and weak, but she was not necessarily calling him feminine.

Posted by: Mary on March 10, 2008 at 7:50 PM | PERMALINK


Posted by: mhr on March 10, 2008 at 7:54 PM | PERMALINK

What is Maureen Dowd's demographic? White, unmarried, unsatisfied, overadmired in a past life but fading quickly. She hates herself and she hates anything that resembles herself in others. At least that's what my astrologer says....

Posted by: jvoe on March 10, 2008 at 7:59 PM | PERMALINK

you lambasted Charlotte Allen for her piece in the Washington Post and lately you've been mean to Maureen Dowd. Very sad conduct for a liberal. You are a very poor role model.

more leranged rantings from mhr...newsflash, Dipshit. We tear into people who need it, regardless of gender. Kinda like we treat you, now that I think about it.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State on March 10, 2008 at 8:01 PM | PERMALINK

OT: FORCE CONGRESS TO IMPEACH GEORGE BUSH AND DICK CHENEY. call Nancy Pelosi @1-202-225-0100 and DEMAND IMPEACHMENT, DC business hours only, call often and spread it around.

Posted by: Mike Meyer on March 10, 2008 at 8:14 PM | PERMALINK

Look, MoDo has a point.

God-fearing xenophobic white male misogynists made this country what it is. We can't afford to let the pansies and bulldykes throw it all away.

Posted by: lobbygow on March 10, 2008 at 8:20 PM | PERMALINK


That's MoDo in a word. That's what MoDo thinks in a word. That's a MoDo column in a word. I'm not sure why any sentient being gives her column a click. That's even sillier.

Posted by: bystander on March 10, 2008 at 8:25 PM | PERMALINK

Barack looks pretty dang manly wearing a Stetson


or the long version


Posted by: joel on March 10, 2008 at 8:33 PM | PERMALINK

Meh, her heart just wasn't in it. If you want to read some of Dowd's best work, you should check out her musing on Al Gore.

Posted by: Radix on March 10, 2008 at 8:45 PM | PERMALINK

Dis she slip in that she also like waddymelon and fried chicken?

Posted by: Kenji on March 10, 2008 at 8:46 PM | PERMALINK

Dowd's vicious, totally unprovoked, bizarre attack on Judith Steinberg Dean back in '04was the moment she went from merely being annoying to being downright psychotic. At this point, getting snarked by Dowd is an honor, since it shows you're doing something right.

Posted by: C.L. on March 10, 2008 at 9:06 PM | PERMALINK

she aspires to a washington dc version of hedda hopper.

but all that fish poison she injects into her face to keep up that youthful glow has migrated to her heart, where she has become a hateful, jealous woman, intent on destroying people who dare to ignore her.

Posted by: linda on March 10, 2008 at 9:19 PM | PERMALINK

You know how disgusted I am by Maureen Dowd?

Even though I understand she must have been bashing Obama, I refuse to read her column.

Posted by: frankly0 on March 10, 2008 at 9:23 PM | PERMALINK

Shes appealing to the emotional and not the rational.

Posted by: Jet on March 10, 2008 at 9:31 PM | PERMALINK

Remember how Romney smelled great? Could land a 737 on those shoulders?

Obama is wiry, chewing nicorette.

Its the way they think.

Posted by: Jet on March 10, 2008 at 9:37 PM | PERMALINK

All the talk about BBQ means she was at McCain's picnic last week and therefore is in the tank for him. This is bore out by her personal attacks on Obama, his staffers, etc. Even the Irish don't get off when she needs to slag the enemy. Curiously, as reporter/ columnist, Dowd isn't supposed to have enemies.

Posted by: beb on March 10, 2008 at 10:04 PM | PERMALINK

Like I've said before, MoDud's wit is as dry as here cunt. Nuf said...

Posted by: elmo on March 10, 2008 at 10:12 PM | PERMALINK

To write the stuff she writes Maureen Dowd must have a serious drug problem, along with being stoned on self-adulation. Why does anybody read her? (I guess 'cause Herbert, Krugman, and Collins are off that day, in my case...)

Posted by: rabbit on March 10, 2008 at 10:21 PM | PERMALINK

Am I the only one who remembers Miss Grinch's article/memoir about how she hid the fact that her father was a DC cop from her college and paper friends? That it wasn't quite the occupation for the father of a Yuppette? Until it seemed so manly/greatest (almost) generation/blue collar/9-11 cool to start respecting our defenders again?
Never mind all those years that dad had to pretend not to notice that Mo never invited her friends to the house out of shame, and Mo had to pretend that he didn't notice.
I might take licence from her own Lonelyhearts psychoanalyzing to assume the unresolved issues from that led to her promiscuity with men famous for non-commitment, but I wouldn't be her for worlds.

Posted by: Steve Paradis on March 10, 2008 at 10:24 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe Maureen Dowd is just jealous of people who are wealthier than she is. It's that classic journalist situation where the journalist is paid way more than the average normal human being but is still a tiny financial minnow compared to the rich folks she covers and pals around with. Maureen Dowd has to go home every night to that crappy little house in Georgetown with its low, low ceilings (ex slave housing maybe?) and that tacky Meissen chandelier in the dining room, like something your grandmother would have had if she had a little money and a little taste but not enough money and not enough taste. (More appropriate for bathrooms or grottoes or the bedrooms of twelve-year-old girls.)

So Dowd pretends it all doesn't matter. She's the "real American"--just like George W. Bush. He can't cut it among his social, economic, and intellectual betters at Yale. She can't cut it at the heights of Washington "society," not that that's anything to speak of. (Boring drone politicians and their ex-hooker wives who've adopted all these airy-fairy airs and graces?--yes, I'm talking about you, wife of that prominent Democrat, the wife who wrote that book and whose book party at an embassy I saw on C-Span.)

Posted by: Anon on March 10, 2008 at 10:28 PM | PERMALINK

kevin -

she was on mccain's plane

eating McCain's barbecue.

did you expect her to write about McCain's temper tantrum following a reporter's question,

as if if that temper tantrum were similar to howard dean's 2004 "scream?

if so,

you expect way to much of the nytimes and its reporters and editorialists.

Posted by: orionATL on March 10, 2008 at 11:32 PM | PERMALINK

Dowd is one of the primary reasons I canceled my print subscription to the NY Times several years back, and now with Kristol I have a second.

Certainly don't miss reading her. Complete garbage.

Posted by: Brian on March 11, 2008 at 12:13 AM | PERMALINK

The announcement is part of the slaughter ritual for Dowd. Since we know the script, perhaps a better response is in order this time.

Posted by: Eric on March 11, 2008 at 2:36 AM | PERMALINK

Dowd likes her black men rowdy, with tats and combs in their fros. That's manly. Unless they're Dems, which they'd likely be, more or less, in which case, even in the yard or playing hoops they're pretty much ninnies. Says she.

Posted by: E on March 11, 2008 at 5:32 AM | PERMALINK

The reason for the long anecdote is that in her mind she is playing one of the Mean Girls and Barack is the cool guy in the cafeteria she is trying to impress. For more Movies With Maureen, follow up on my blog. I go into the horror show she thinks the Clinton campaign is.

Posted by: Mo MoDo on March 11, 2008 at 5:50 AM | PERMALINK

MoDo's career is based upon being a tart tongued "bitch."

It was brave and incisive post 9/11 to take on Bush and try to take him down a notch or two (or three) at the height of his powers, but after awhile even that got a little tired. After all was said and done there didn't seem to be any core principles guiding her - it was just bitchiness for affect. And written in a way to draw attention to herself. Totally predicable. Even Bigger Yawn.

She's lost her edge and can't get it back. The Clintons are good targets because the public is so blurry eyed when it comes to focusing on what they are really about, what it was really like when they where in the WH, and what it will really be like to have them back.

But Obama is "slim" pickings - She has a point about Obama's image issues (not unlike every Democrat who has run for president since FDR) - not that it is particularly insightful. Nevertheless, it is worth remmebering that it still exists.

Posted by: C.B. Todd on March 11, 2008 at 6:22 AM | PERMALINK

You wrote:

'But painting the candidate and his team as "effete and vaguely foreign" in order to say that's a problem for them -- that's just silly.'

It's not silly. It is meant to belittle, feminize, etc. the (right now) likely Democratic candidate - but she means it as truth in jest. You can bet it isn't taken as silly by most of her readers. They see it as "so true" and clever. It's outrageous, not silly.

Posted by: DanG on March 11, 2008 at 9:32 AM | PERMALINK

This is a predictable pattern from our media pundits. They are enamored of manly men. I have told people for months that I thought sooner or later the crush on Obama would wane because he is not macho enough for our insecure media guys. If you look at the criticism the media has of our candidates, the underlying implication is that they are not real men. Heaven forbid we have a president who has feminine characteristics let alone be a woman. In fact, Democrats as a party are entirely too girly - they empathize, care about the weak, are wonky (serious students) are too French etc.
Look at the candidates that our media guys (and their girl pals who are striving to fit into the club) swoon over - flight boy McCain, bully-boy Guiliani, cowboy Reagan, faux cowboy Bush (daddy was too wimpy), manly Fred Thompson, and the ultimate man's man, Ahnold - who literally calls Dems "girlie men".
Underlying all of this is a misogynistic fear of all things female. (For those who think women cannot be misogynists all I can say is you should meet my mother-in-law.)

Posted by: BernieO on March 11, 2008 at 10:11 AM | PERMALINK

Somebody ought to take Maureen to see The Sweet Smell of Success, point to the Walter Winchell character, and say "See? That's you."

Posted by: pbg on March 11, 2008 at 10:47 AM | PERMALINK

You seem to be puzzled by this but the answer was the first word in the post "Dowd". You didn't need more than that.

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