Sometimes, you read a column that is so catty, you just shake your head and wonder what in the hell the writer was thinking. But when it is Maureen Dowd, you generally just shrug it off, because that's her schtick in trade.
Yesterday, though, Dowd crossed a line for me — and needs to be called out for it. No link, because it's behind the subscriber wall, but this is some appallingly catty, vapid and stereotypically sexist prose from a woman who styles herself as the Queen Bee of the Big Fat Cocktail Weenie set.
It's one thing to read something like this from some old geezer who thinks anyone with ovaries ought to be fixing him another martini…but Dowd really ought to know better. Except I think she does, and she writes this crap anyway for either some weird attempt at appearing "balanced" (whatever the hell that means these days) or because she has some desperate need to hang out with the Kool Kidz in the dreary confines of the National Press Club Bar. (You know, Jeff Gannon doesn't suck down the booze with just anyone…)
Here's a taste:
Ted Olson, the former solicitor general and eloquent Republican lawyer who argued the Bush v. Gore case before the Supreme Court, was warming up the rabidly conservative Federalist Society crowd for John McCain with a few sexist cracks about Botox.
The new Congress could amuse itself, he said, by "searching for any sign of movement in Speaker Pelosi's forehead." The Senate, he added, would be entertained by "the expressionless, Pelosi-like forehead of Senator Clinton."
It reminded you of just how idiotic Republicans can act sometimes. The only thing worse than hearing the first female speaker of the House filleted in such a lame way was seeing the first female speaker of the House flail around in her first big week in such a lame way. It reminded you of just how idiotic Democrats can act sometimes.
Nancy Pelosi's first move, after the Democratic triumph, was to throw like a girl. Women get criticized in the office for acting on relationships and past slights rather than strategy, so Madame Speaker wasted no time making her first move based on relationships and past slights rather than strategy.
Oh….hahahahaha…Botox jokes disguised as making fun of Botox jokes. How droll. See how Dowd managed to get in a smack at Pelosi's forehead, all the while blaming it on Ted Olson? Petty. But then it gets worse:
Instead of counting votes behind closed doors or even just choosing the best person for majority leader, Ms. Pelosi offered an argument along the lines of: John Murtha's my friend. He's been nice to me. I don't like Steny. He did something a long time ago that was really, really bad that I'm never, ever going to tell you. And I'm the boss of you. So vote for John.
As the adage goes, if you shoot at the king, you'd better kill him. And if you're the queen and you shoot at your knight, you'd better kill him too, or you end up looking like a weak sister.
Democratic lawmakers, who should have been basking, were left baffled as Nancy, spanked by her flock, strained to make nice with Steny.
You know, I wasn't all that hot for either Majority Leader candidate, frankly, but let's be honest: Steny's crowd was doing a lot of behind-the-scenes oppo pushing on Murtha, including in a hit piece planted in the NYTimes, and Dowd, Queen Bee of the Big Fat Cocktail Weenie set knows that full well. Is there a comment about that? Nope, doesn't fit into her snark at the new female leader on the block narrative, now does it?
Here's a crazy thought: what if Pelosi genuinely thought that Murtha's leadership on the Iraq issue was just what the Democratic caucus needed in the leadership to send a signal to the military brass that their concerns were being taken very seriously? What if Nancy knew all along that it was probably a losing cause, but, say, loyalty to Murtha and by extension loyalty to the military was very, very important at a time when their concerns have been shoved aside for too long by the Bush Administration? What if this was an intentional move on Speaker-to-be Pelosi's part to send that signal — up front — that we had their backs, and that they should be candid about the situation in any upcoming oversight hearings so that the Democrats could push for desperately needed reforms and for redeployments in an intelligent and necessary way from Iraq?
I mean, just for kicks, let's assume that a woman who has risen to the top position in the House of Representatives for the first time in the history of this nation of ours has a little more sense than Dowd portrays her as having. Not exactly a stretch, is it?
Of course, reading analysis from a woman who is more interested in scoring the latest Louboutin peep-toe platform from the Barney's mark-down rack than she is in digging out the honest truth of the matter is really a waste of my time. The fact that Tom DeLay used to hold votes open on the floor for hours, threatening to ruin the political careers of people's children? Well, that's just politics, it is what strong men do in times of trial. Boo yah, and all of that.
Nancy Pelosi standing up for someone on principle and loyalty? Apparently, that's girlie, according to Dowd.
Look, I'm not always going to agree with things that Nancy Pelosi does. If, rumor has it, she's thinking about appointing Alcee Hastings to head up the Intel committee, I think that would be a mistake — because a judge who has been removed from the bench on perjury issues is not likely to be able to get high level clearance, for one thing, no matter how good a public speaker he may be, and that could interfere with his job performance.
But you know what? No decision has been made as yet, and I don't have all the facts, and I'm not going to sit here and be catty and say "Oh, that Nancy, she's being such a girl."
News flash: she is a girl. So am I. And just because she has boobs — or me, or anyone else for that matter — it doesn't mean that anyone, including some other fashionista posing as the Long Island Snark Queen, gets to criticize her based on some asinine criteria involving the same idiotic criticisms that women have always heard: take a Midol, she must have PMS, she can't hack it — it's her hormones, etcetera, etcetera. Well, I'm calling bullshit on Maureen right now.
Criticize the Speaker-elect on substance — but don't resort to sexist blather. It's pathetic, whiny, and beneath any thinking woman, and Dowd ought to be ashamed of herself. I know I am ashamed of her.
UPDATE: Howie has a fantastic take on this as well. Read. Enjoy.