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Daily Howler: Matthews and Dowd keep trashing women. We'd call it a family tradition
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WE IRISH! Matthews and Dowd keep trashing women. We’d call it a family tradition: // link // print // previous // next //
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 31, 2007

WE IRISH: In October 2002, Hillary Clinton cast a very bad vote. (So did John Kerry. So did John Edwards.) Maureen Dowd briefly discusses that vote late in her column in today’s Times. But Dowd doesn’t have much time for her actual substance, because she has blathered so much early on. Here’s the way our most inane columnist started this new, inane column:
DOWD (1/31/07): When she was little, Hillary Rodham would sit on a basement bench and pretend she was flying a spaceship to Mars. Her younger brother Hugh, perched behind, would sometimes beg for a chance to be captain.

No dice. ''She would always drive, and I would always have to sit in the back,'' he once told me.
“Snore,” we wrote on our hard-copy paper. But then, anyone who has read this primal nutcase must have known what would come next. Just like that, Dowd explained What Was In Clinton’s Mind when she campaigned in Iowa last weekend:
DOWD: Finally, in Iowa, she was once more behind the wheel of her spaceship to Mars... [groan]

She positively glistened as she talked about how ''I''—rather than the ''we'' of '92—would run the world.

Humbly, graciously, deftly, she offered Iowa the answer to that eternal question, What Is Hillary Owed?

Everything.

When Hillary Clinton runs for president, this means she thinks that she is owed everything. Translation: What makes this bitch think she should be president? Yep! Dowd took us down a dusty old road as she watched Clinton campaign in Davenport.

What makes this bitch think she should be president? It’s a question that doesn’t come to Dowd’s mind when men stage their runs for the White House. Dowd doesn’t say he thinks he’s owed everything because a man runs for the White House. And no one does what Chris Matthews did in 1999, when Clinton announced that she’d run for the Senate; no one harangues the candidate’s spokesman, over and over, about how “ambitious” the candidate is. But then, Dowd does today what Matthews did then; she expresses her hidebound cultural values. And because you need to understand the strange impulses driving some major pundits, we think we ought to say it again: As Matthews did in 1999, Dowd is expressing the throwback values of her family’s Irish Catholic culture.

Let’s state the obvious. There’s nothing wrong with being Irish Catholic. Indeed, we grew up (Boston) Irish Catholic ourselves. Our sainted mother was Irish Catholic. So was our grandmother, Ann Callahan; so were our four beloved aunts. [Sidebar: No one in our family had ever gone to college. But Ann Callahan told us, from Day One, that we’d be going to Harvard, just like the Kennedys did. God bless the hearts of the Boston Irish who rejected “No Irish need apply!”] Of course, most of us raised Irish Catholic in the 50s and 60s somehow arranged to grow up and move on from the blinkered, throwback cultural instincts which have been the downside of that glorious culture. But uh-oh! Some others have plainly not moved on. And a large number of these people now seem to work as opinion leaders inside our mainstream press corps.

Yep! A surprising number—including Matthews and Dowd—now work as opinion leaders inside our millionaire press corps. Unfortunately, their mossback, blinkered social instincts have driven a great deal of our political discourse over the past fifteen years. From 1992 right up to this day, they’ve insisted on sniffing the Clintons’ sheets, for example. Indeed, the Times’ current sheet-sniffer, a bright lad named Patrick Healy (what else?), is clowning again in this morning’s Times. Where do they find these prime dimwits?

HEALY (1/31/07): Some of the nation's most enduring memories of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton—memories she would happily erase—were etched on television more than a decade ago: She didn't stay home and bake cookies in her marriage. She wasn't ''some little woman, standing by my man, like Tammy Wynette.'' The headband. The hairstyles.

On Saturday, one week into her presidential campaign, the threat of a new, unflattering image surfaced: MSNBC used a microphone to capture Mrs. Clinton singing the national anthem in Des Moines. Her voice was, shall we say, off key. The recording was quickly downloaded to YouTube, the video-sharing Web site, and the Drudge Report—no friend of Mrs. Clinton—was steering readers to watch it. (By Tuesday afternoon, more than 800,000 had.)
They’re so fucking stupid it makes your bones hurt. (Needless to say, Dowd refers to Clinton’s hair-styles in today’s column too. And to her off-key singing.) As mother might have said (if she’d been Chris Rock): The Irish? Dear, I love the Irish. It’s these g*dd*amn m*cks I can’t stand!

But the Healys and Seelyes and Connollys and Kellys have been crawling all over our political culture, chasing Bill Clinton’s troubling blow-jobs—and Hillary Clinton’s troubling gender. In Iowa this weekend, a man asked Clinton what equipped her to stand up to the world’s worst men—a man who possibly didn’t quite know he was speaking to one of our toughest survivors. Indeed, Clinton has stood up to many “evil or bad” men over the years—including an ugly man named Matthews, who “even dragged out Gennifer Flowers for the umpteenth time” to spend a half hour on TV accusing Hillary Clinton of murders (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 1/19/07). No, Sunday’s question to Clinton didn’t quite make sense; she’s been dealing with very bad men for years. But good lord! Here are the bells this question set off inside Dowd’s bizarre, tortured mind:
DOWD: John Wood, a self-described ''plainsman,'' Republican and machinery-and-tool salesman from Davenport, asked Hillary how she would handle the world's evil and bad men, provoking the slyly ambiguous retort: ''What in my background equips me to deal with evil and bad men?''

He said afterward that he was more worried about her ability to face down villains, ''being a lady,'' but conceded, ''The woman did good today.''

(His question was reminiscent of Ali G's interview of Newt Gingrich, when the faux rapper asked whether a woman president would be turned on and manipulated by evil dictators, given that, with women, ''the worse you treat 'em, the more they want you.'')
Good God. (And all the angels and saints.) “His question was reminiscent of Ali G's interview,” Dowd said. Amazing, isn’t it? Wood asks Clinton how she’d handle the world’s worst men—and images flash inside Dowd’s head about the way women could get “turned on” by dictators. “The worse you treat 'em, the more they want you,” she remembers Ali G saying. Of course, Sascha Baron Cohen offered this as a joke—a joke about tortured throwbacks like Dowd! But today, Dowd wants us thinking about the way women get “turned on” by evil men. That’s what this nutcase wants voters thinking as they consider this candidacy.

Why do we finally raise the question of Irish Catholic culture? Because voters may need a bit of context when they consider the puzzling punditry being directed at Clinton. We Irish! For fifteen years, we’ve played a disproportionate role in the crackpot wars against Clinton/Gore/Clinton, and our hidebound instincts have flared up again in the days since Clinton announced. But because our members are so well-placed (and because they’re so determined), their instincts may acquire an air of common sense—an air they don’t deserve. When Dowd and Matthews and Barnicle (well named) bray and complain about Clinton’s gender, voters should understand what they’re seeing; they’re seeing the backwash of the cultural conservatism which has been the unattractive side of our otherwise glorious Irish Catholic culture. Dowd has often written about her various crackpot family members, including her nutty conservative brothers. But let’s face it. The most damaged person in the Dowd family is clearly the pundit herself.

To Dowd, when a woman dares to run for president, she is somehow saying: I am owed everything. And Dowd invites us to remember the way these woman just luvv their mistreatment. But then, as we’ve already said: Some of us kids grew up and moved on. And some of us write for the mossback Times, whose culture you should carefully consider.

KEEP JOKE ALIVE: Poor Matthews! He struggled and strained on last night’s Hardball, desperately trying to Keep Joke Alive. He wasted two segments on the pointless topic of Hillary’s joke—and to him, it was, of course, all about “the girls” and their stupid “girl humor.” Here he was, introducing the pointless, tired, dumb topic:
MATTHEWS (1/30/07): Here’s the Hillary line from this weekend in Iowa. It was a joke, an in-joke among some women. Let`s see what she meant.

CLINTON (videotape): And what in my background equips me to deal with evil and bad men?

MATTHEWS: Now, look at that laugh with all the teeth and all the giggle among the girls, and that’s fine with me. I like people having fun.
Matthews kept defining the joke as an “in-joke among some women,” a “giggle among the girls” [sic], although the room was full of both women and men. “It was girl humor about girls and the trouble they all have with men,” the clownish old mossback soon said. And then, he described the type of woman who would attend such a Dem Party gathering:
MATTHEWS: By the way, the kind of women that show up at Democratic organizations are not the traditional woman who stays at home and doesn’t go out and work. They’re the women who go out and work, who get active in meetings who are very militant and gung-ho. And they’re the kind of people—they’re like Hillary. And she’s appealing to that mentality.
Isn’t that remarkable? To Matthews, that’s “the mentality” of the women to whom Clinton is appealing. They’re “very militant,” Matthews said. In that way, “they’re like Hillary.”

But then, Matthews is like something from a bad dream; he’s a tormented Tailgunner Joe, decades later. To him, Clinton is “Dukakis in a dress.” She sometimes reminds him “of a strip-teaser.” She’s “an uppity woman”—and, of course, she’s “very militant.” He offers degrading, gender-based insults as easily as other folk breathe. Before such constructions start to seem to make sense, we thought you might want to consider where such constructions come from.

MATTHEWS ABANDONED: Here’s the good news: Among pundits, only the total crackpots, like Dowd and Matthews, seem drawn to this latest nonsense. Last night, a string of pundits politely told Matthews that he should maybe just put a sock in it. First, Pat Buchanan betrayed the clan. Clinton had been “hilarious,” he said to Matthews. What’s your problem, he tactfully asked, tactfully citing “the press:”
BUCHANAN (1/30/07): Look, I thought that was a hilarious line by Hillary Clinton, repeating the question. It was about Osama. “Bad, evil—how do I know how to deal with bad and evil men.” She picked up on it, she came back with a hilarious line. It was very funny.

MATTHEWS: About who?

BUCHANAN: It’s about Bill, of course.

MATTHEWS: Of course it was! She’s denying that! You don`t compare a guy who kills 3,000 people with somebody who had a little trouble with an intern.

BUCHANAN: Chris, I mean, why is the press all over her when she caught a very—

MATTHEWS: Because she won`t honestly admit what she does.

BUCHANAN: Why don’t they just let it go? It’s a joke! Why do they ask questions?

MATTHEWS: Well, she won’t admit that was a joke about Bill.

BUCHANAN: Why do they press her about it?

MATTHEWS: Because, Mr. Defender of All Women, the problem is that she won’t admit a candid joke.
Matthews, who was visibly annoyed, derided Buchanan as “Mr. Defender of All Women.” And don’t you love it? Matthews, who once brought a crackpot onto the air to accuse both Clintons of being “murderers,” is now deeply, profoundly upset that Hillary is unfair to Bill! Again, Buchanan chided him about his obsession—about his foolish “reasoning:”
MATTHEWS: I’ll tell you one thing. I thought the joke was wrong, because as much as I’ve been tough on Bill Clinton over the years, I don’t think it’s fair to compare, to compare him to Osama bin Laden. Even as a joke it falls flat. It’s a clinker. It’s like never compare anybody to Hitler. Don`t compare somebody to Osama bin Laden.

BUCHANAN: How can you call it a clinker when everybody in the room was laughing their head off?

MATTHEWS: Because it was girl humor about girls and the trouble they all have with men. And that could be her strategy, "We girls have had a lot of trouble with men, let`s face it. I`ve had to deal with Bill. Let`s face it. Let’s all giggle together.”
Let’s all giggle together! Matthews’ undisguised, instinctive derision of women is simply astounding to see.

In his second segment on this topic, Howard Fineman and Chuck Todd also chided Matthews’ focus. Indeed, how alone are Matthews and Dowd at this point? Here was Mr. O, Monday night, speaking up for Clinton:
O’REILLY (1/29/07): "Personal story" segment tonight. You have to feel sorry for Hillary Clinton. That's right—you have to feel sorry for the woman. Everything she does is analyzed. And often, she gets whacked in the head with it. Listen to this exchange after a question from an Iowa lady [sic]

CLINTON (videotape): And what in my background equips me to deal with evil and bad men?

CLINTON (videotape): I thought I was funny! You know, you guys keep telling me lighten up, be funny. You know, I get a little funny. And now I'm being psychoanalyzed.?

O'REILLY: In addition, Ms. Clinton sang the national anthem off key. That was played all over the place. And the beat goes on. Joining us now from Boston is Democratic strategist and Fox News analyst Maryanne Marsh. I'm absolutely sincere when I say I feel sorry for Senator Clinton, because she's going to go through a horror that I don't think any other politician in the history of this country has ever gone through in the next two years...Every faux pas she makes is going to be just like that, front page on the tabs.

And on culturally throwback programs like Hardball! For the record, O’Reilly was quite fair to Gore in Campaign 2000. Matthews lied and name-called him to pieces.
Did we mention the fact that he once brought a nut on the air to accuse both Clintons of murders?

Buchanan, Fineman, Todd and O’Reilly all told Matthews to stick a sock in it. But Dowd is still typing away—and her tortured mind is a mess. These throwbacks are tortured by Clinton’s gender—and they plan to let the world know it. Hillary Clinton thinks she’s owed everything! The thought leaps into their bizarre, throwback minds—and they can’t wait to recite it.

TOMORROW: Mike Barnicle, one of Jack Welch’s Lost Boys, defines the Dem Party for Imus!

Also coming: Women are almost too dumb to vote! More on the remarkable piece which headlined the Post “Outlook” section.