THE EXISTENCE OF EVIL: Maureen Dowd has been visibly disturbed for a good long while. Despite this fact, the New York Times has kept her in print. As we can see from her column this morning, their conduct borders on eviland thats a word we rarely use.
Guess what, readers? Demonized images of some Major Dems damage the interests of all Major Dems. Before we consider that ongoing problem, lets note the way Dowds characteristic pathologies get acted out in todays name-calling column.
In her column, Dowd imagines Hillary Clinton and John McCain conspiring to defeat Obama. Of course, Dowd is constantly imagining thingshearing voices in her head. (Eight years ago, she heard Candidate Gore. He was singing, I Feel Pretty.) But in todays column, note the characteristic ways she imagines Obama portrayed:
DOWD (8/20/08): Oh, John, you know I love you and Im happy to help, Hillary says. The themes you took from me are working greatpainting Obama as an elitist and out-of-touch celebrity, when were rich celebrities, too. Turning his big rallies and pretty words into character flaws, charging him with playing the race cardthat one always cracks me up. And accusing the media, especially NBC, of playing favorites. Its easy to get the stupid press to navel-gaze; theyre so insecure.
Theyre all pinko Commies, McCain laughs. Especially since they deserted me for The Messiah. Seriously, Hill, that Paris-Britney ad you came up with was brilliant. I owe you.
Looking pleased, Hillary expertly downs another shot. His secret fear is being seen as a dumb blonde, she says. He wants to take a short cut to the top and pose on glossy magazine covers, but he doesnt want to be seen as a glib pretty boy.
In todays column, Obama is described as a pretty boy with pretty words. Hes referred to as a dumb blonde. These words are put in Clintons mouth, although they express specific themes which Dowd introduced, long ago. Indeed, on Valentines Day in 2007, her column was headlined: Obama, Legally Blonde? Way back then, she began introducing her snarky themesabout Obamas bitch-wife, for example. (While writing this of Obama himself: [H]e's so slender his wedding band looked as if it was slipping off. If you think that wasnt meant as insinuation, you dont understood Dowds degree of disturbance.) It has long been an utter embarrassment, watching the Times allow this crackpot to pimp these gender-nut themes. But when it comes to issues of gender, Maureen Dowd is a stone-cold nutcase. And must we state the obvious? In Dowds work, these themes are aimed at Democrats only. Every Dem wife is some version of bitch. Have you ever seen her say a word about the Wife of McCain?
(For the record, Clinton is pictured denigrating Obama with more of the insulting names which litter Dowds work on the candidate. In todays column, Skinny and Twig Legs are added to the long list of Dowds denigrations. In Dowds columns, such names are endlessly aimed at Obama. Have you ever seen Dowd refer to McCain in any such way? We searched for such insults last weekcame up empty. Is the New York Times happy when its top writers denigrate any presidential candidate in such childish ways? Its simply stunning, that this hapless newspaper has allowed this to go on so long.)
The New York Times should be taken and whipped for letting this sick gender-trashing roll on. (Racial elements have also been frequent in Dowds denigrations of Obama.) But lets make sure we understand a second key point about todays column. Lets consider what happens when Major Dems are relentlessly demonized, as occurs again today.
Please understand: John McCain is pictured doing nothing wrong in this column. He is pictured conspiring with Hillary Clinton to defeat Obama; since McCain is trying to defeat Obama, there would be nothing wrong with him behaving in the way Dowd imagines. in this portrait, it is Hillary Clinton who is pictured doing something devioussomething secret, under-handed, nasty and wrong. And of course, it isnt just Hillary; Bill Clinton is pictured as part of the deal, as is Jesse Jackson. And Mark Penn gets a mention too, as is now required by Hard Pundit Law. You see, Penn is the latest Major Dem demon. According to dictates of Hard Pundit Law, attention must be paid.
In this column, Dowd extends a theme which has recently gripped her dim-witted communitythe idea that McCains campaign needed Hillary Clinton to draw their attention to Obamas vulnerabilities. Within this exceptionally low-IQ world, the McCain campaign would never have noticed Obamas relative lack of experience; in todays column, Dowd suggests they never would yelled about the race card without Clintons prior help. (Though were not sure when Clinton did that.) These claims are inane, but theyre good for businessand for party warfare. Presumably, the press world keeps talking about the Clintons because its very good for ratings. But such chatter keeps the demonizations aliveand those demonizations hurt all Dems. In the present moment, demonization of Clinton/Clinton/Jackson/Penn hurts the partys nominee most of all.
In the past dozen years, Major Dems have been relentlessly demonizedand Big Reps like McCain have been turned into saints. (Until he finally destroyed the known world, George W. Bush was plain-spoken, a different kind of Republican. Until he repulsed the voters of Iowa and New Hampshire, Rudy Giuliani was endlessly praised as Americas Mayor.) To state the blindingly obvious, the rolling demonization of Major Dems badly hurts the Democratic Party brand. Recent demonization of Clinton and Penn (the lunatic Colbert Kings white supremacists) drives discord within Dem Party ranks, and that too is bad for Obama. But the relentless portrait of Major Dems as feckless/dishonest/nasty/grasping only makes it that much easier to create a similar portrait of the next Major Dem.
This morning, an abortion-driven attack is being launched against Obamas character. And guess what? Its relatively easy to get voters to believe that Obamas a big phony liar because so many other Big Dems have been portrayed in that manner. Meanwhile, the Obama campaign will have a hard time driving themes against McCains character. McCain has been sanctified for more than a decadeas career liberals and the Dem Party sat by. Its very hard to redefine his character now. By way of contrast, its relatively easy to redefine Obama. Every other Big Dem was a phony. Why wouldnt he be the same?
Many Dems and liberals continue to revel in the demonized portraits of Clinton and Penn. (This new portrait is built out of plainly false facts. Be sure to thank the gruesome Josh Green, who was still insisting, four years ago, that Al Gore said he invented the Internet.) But when we revel in these portraits, were riding with a generation of the RNCs top hit-men. Many liberals dont understand this, because their leaders have never explained it. But as Penn and Clinton get further demonized, Obamas brand is further devalued. The groundwork was laid in the war against Gorea war the liberal world accepted, in which it often took part in.
Does evil exist? Rick Warren asked. If so, how should we approach it? He used a word we rarely use. But today, the free rein given the Times public crackpot brought this powerful word to mind. Dowd has long been a visible nut-case, especially on issues of gender. Today, she puts her insults and denigrations into the mouth of Hillary Clinton. Its Hillary Clinton who says the strange thing this stone-cold public nut-case has always said. But its Obama who gets called a dumb blondea pretty boy, who has pretty words.
We rarely use the word evil here. Today, though, just look at the Times.
Maureen Dowds notions of accuracy: If it feels good, Maureen Dowd types it. McCain is speaking to Hillary Clinton in this part of the crackpots tale:
DOWD: I saw your husbands kind words about me in Las Vegas on Monday, saying Id be just as good as Obama on climate change.
Obviously, I favor Senator Obamas energy positions, was the start of Bill Clintons actual statement. And nohe actually didnt say that McCain would be just as good.
ABOUT THAT ABORTION ISSUE: By any traditional measure, the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act issue is very dangerous to Obama. On its face, its the perfect type of issue to turn him into Dukakis. For that reason, we marveled at the way the issue was presented in this mornings Post. Jonathan Weisman always screws up his copy. But on this utterly critical matter, we really couldnt understand what this hopeless mess meant:
WEISMAN (8/20/08): Obama, then a state senator, opposed the measure in 2001, saying it crossed the line of constitutionality and "essentially says that a doctor is required to provide treatment to a pre-viable child, or fetus."
As a committee chairman in the state Senate in 2003, Obama supported GOP efforts to add language to the act, copied from federal legislation, clarifying that it would have no legal impact on the availability of abortions. Obama then opposed the bill's final passage. Since then, he has said he would have backed the bill as it was written and approved almost unanimously the year before.
We read that passage many times, never quite figuring out what it meant. By way of contrast, Larry Rohters report in this mornings Times explains the matter much more clearly. In our view, Rohter himself muddles a basic pointdid Obama vote on one large bill, or did he vote on separate provisions? Early on, he seems to imply that there was just one measure. Later, he seems to say there were two.
But Rohters report is much more clearmuch more clear than Weismans. It helps us see that Weismans report was basically written in crayon.
This is a very dangerous issue; its important that it be clearly explained. This leads us to a basic question: Who on earth is Jonathan Weisman? How can it be that the Washington Post is incompetent to this degree?
WERE POSTPONING: We had planned to review the James Fallows piece today, but were postponing until tomorrow. And yes, were also postponing the next part of our series, Race and the race; this morning, Dowds lunacy takes center stage. The trashing of Big Major Dems rolls on. And when Big Major Dems get trashed, so does Obamas brand.
A CONSUMMATE WASTE OF TIME: This morning, the Times presents a full profile of Kathleen Sebelius, one of Obamas VP prospects. Its hard to imagine a bigger waste of effort, time and newsprint. If Sebelius doesnt get the nod, reading this profile was a bit of a waste. If she does get the nod, of course, it will have to be re-published.
Only one prospect actually mattersthe prospect the candidate actually picks. Its astounding to see how much time and effort the press corps wastes on this nonsense.