After mourning the recent, almost simultaneous losses of Bob Herbert and Frank Rich from The New York Times op-ed page, the only columnists left worth reading were Paul Krugman, Gail Collins– and Maureen Dowd. Although occasionally shallow and snarky, Dowd was a truly gifted writer, and when she took the journalist’s idealistic creed of “comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable” seriously, no one did it better. Her series of columns taking the Catholic Church to task for its heinous handling of the church’s pedophile scandal is a case in point.
But Dowd recently seems to have gone off the deep end. Her obsessive sniping at President Obama, whom she (along with Rush Limbaugh) derisively refers to as “Barry,” has become an embarrassment.
Before the election, Dowd went on and on about how anti-social Obama is, how he hates people, thinks he’s “too noble” to schmooze and other psychobabble. I thought it would end on Election Day, but no such luck.
Her Sunday 11-25 column continued her peevish attacks, this one centering around how the President should use Robert Griffith III, a 22 year old quarterback for the Washington Redskins, as an example of how to be a leader and human being. Does Dowd realize that most of her readers (of both the local and national edition of the Times) live outside the Washington bubble, don’t even know who Griffith is and could care less?
Dowd’s coquettish act has warn thin, and these recent columns reveal her increasingly old-fashioned, pinched and entitled outlook. The subtext should read “Are you ignoring me, young man? Don’t you know how important and influential I am? Don’t you know I once dated Michael Douglas and Aaron Sorkin? How dare you!” (Sorkin has described Dowd as “a dream girl” who “always seemed like she stepped out of a novel from the 40s.”)
Dowd’s book Are Men Necessary? was quite revealing, with dated and often laughable ideas about relationships, including that women must never pay a penny on a date, even if she is making twice as much as the man, and the importance of playing coquettish games in a relationship.
Somehow, President Obama has no time for this nonsense. I have my own issues with the President. For starters, he may be the worst poker player in the world, negotiating with disrespectful GOP “leaders” by starting in the middle and moving to the right. That being said, I think the President has done a remarkable job in the face of unprecedented hostility and intrangience from the GOP.
One noteworthy part of Dowd’s attacks is when she unfavorably compares Obama to Bill Clinton, whom she now views as a swell guy and devilish charmer, obviously assuming her readers had lobotomies. Unfortunately for her, I’m not the only one to recall her brutal, cheap shot takedowns of both he and Hillary not that long ago, As Bill Clinton put it, “Maureen Dowd must live in mortal fear that there’s somebody in the world living a healthy and productive life.”
While more and more a relic of the past, Dowd undoubtably sees herself as anything but dowdy. A flame-haired charmer, Dowd always had politicians lusting after her, most notably George H. W. Bush, who had her over for parties and to his Kennebunkport retreat and whose “eyes lit up whenever he saw Dowd enter a room” according to New York Times managing editor and Dowd confidant Jill Abramson.
But President Obama could care less, treating Dowd like any other columnist. Nearly old enough to be Obama’s mother, Dowd is nonetheless clearly peeved by the President not being smitten by her and regularly lashes out at him in her column with increasingly petty attacks.
And while Dowd swoons over quarterback Griffith’s “easy charm” and the huge fan base he has attracted, comparing the “aloof, preening” Obama unfavorably with him, she fails to note that she is rapidly losing her own fans, with her once loyal readers turning against her.
The five posts that got the most approvals on the NY Times web site on Sunday ranged from bafflement to disgust with Dowd.
New York’s Mary Scott says “the idea that our President needs to seek leadership advice from a 22 year old football player is insulting and disdainful,” while Josy Will writes that Dowd is “obviously obsessed with President Obama. Sorry Maureen, he won’t call you. Not maybe.”
Time to face the truth, Maureen. “Barry” is just not that into you.