Sunday, October 17, 2010

Maureen Dowd Meets the Red Meanies

What happens when you have run out of invective but are facing an audience that prefers a jolt of nasty with its Sunday morning coffee?

You have to sympathize with Maureen Dowd. She wishes she could still call Republican women racists, but she knows that it sounds like rhetorical bluster.

That doesn’t stop her from the insinuation, but she is a good enough writer to know that she cannot just leave it at that.

She advances into throwing all Republican woman candidates into the same bag, stereotyping them, slandering them, and dismissing their work.

If she weren't a feminist, the sisterhood would already have done serious damage to her reputation.

The rest of us are within our rights to be shocked to discover that Dowd does not possess enough mental fire power to distinguish the accomplishments of a Meg Whitman from those of a Christine O’Donnell.

One hopes that Dowd feels a few pangs of conscience, what I like to call the agenbite of inwit, for such a blatant display of misogyny. What could be worse than to dismiss their achievements and policy proposals, as… get this… MEAN.

It feels like the plaintive cry of a twelve year old girl running home to blurt out: “Mommy, they were mean to me.”

That’s right, Maureen Dowd has stooped to the level of schoolyard taunts. Say it ain’t so, Mo.

Dowd’s column today is sure to be an instant classic. Though probably not for the reasons she thinks. She begins by making a run at racism baiting, denouncing the  governor of Arizona, Jan Brewer, for racism.

Crudely, with a dash of vulgarity, but wrapped in rhetorical ribbons, Dowd wrote: “As the politicians droned on and my Irish skin turned toasty brown, I worried that Governor Brewer might make a citizen’s arrest and I would have to run for my life across the desert. She has, after all, declared open season on anyone with a suspicious skin tone in her state.”

Name-calling is not original. It attempts to shut down debate. As an argument, it has already failed. We expect better from Maureen Dowd.

To offer the perspective that Dowd ignores, Brewer has been excoriated for signing into law a bill passed by both houses of the Arizona legislature, a bill that attempted to deal with the fact that the Mexican drug wars are bleeding over into Arizona.

Of course, the law explicitly forbids racial profiling, but why cavil.

Like it or not, The Arizona law represented the will of the people, so much so that Republican candidates in Arizona are likely to have a very good day on November 2. Regardless of gender, as it happens.

Dowd’s next point is stranger still. Perhaps she thinks it’s a winning argument, perhaps she feels that men will find it persuasive, perhaps she is worried that so many men find this new breed of Republican woman attractive, but Dowd wants us to believe that these mean women have stooped to impugning the masculinity of their male opponents.

It was bad enough when they impugned your patriotism, but to impugn your manhood... Oh, my God.

Dowd is outraged that a Republican woman would dare belittle: “the president’s manhood….”

As if that were not bad enough Sharron Angle dared blurt out at her debate with the Senate majority leader, these now-famous words: “Man up, Harry Reid.”

How presumptuous can you get?

Dowd continues: “With casino red suit and lipstick, Angle played the Red Queen of the Mad Hatter tea party, denouncing career politicians and ordering 'Off with your head!' and 'Down with government benefits'!”

Dowd goes into high dudgeon, but Angle was simply using high concept. By now everyone knows that political debates are about memorable sound bites. Whatever you think of Sharron Angle, hers was simply very good.

Fairness obliges me to note that Dowd does not even include the most virulent attack on manliness, the one performed by Linda McMahon.

She leaves that for fellow Timesman, Frank Rich, who uses his portion of the op-ed page today to conjure this frightening vision: “We shouldn’t be surprised that this year even a state as seemingly well-mannered as Connecticut has produced a senatorial candidate best known for marching into a wrestling ring to gratuitously kick a man in the groin.” Link here.

Hold on to your family jewels, Linda McMahon is coming.

Of course, Rich is being snarky here, but do you think it fair to diminish a woman’s achievements, especially when the woman in question has built a rather large and rather successful business, albeit one that neither Frank Rich nor I has ever frequented.

In the old days, feminists used to be happy to traffic in images of women kneeing men in the groin. Today’s feminists have revived the image in order to scare men into voting Democratic.

Not to put too vulgar a point on it, but Maureen Dowd and Frank Rich are here to tell you that all of these beautiful Republican women are a bunch of ball-busters.

In the old days, this used to be one of the most important charges leveled against witches. Check out that wonder of 15th century inquisitorial thinking: Malleus Maleficarum. Not only is this the manual inquisitors used for their witch hunts, but it is also one of the first books about sex therapy.

Strangely, Dowd does not seem to believe that these great exemplars of manliness cannot defend themselves. If you need Maureen Dowd to defend you, then maybe you do need to man up.

Beyond the insults and the adolescent taunts, Dowd does arrive at something that resembles an idea. In it she tries to explain why these Republican women are doing so well.

In her words: “They are the ideal nihilistic cheerleaders for an angry electorate.”

Say what? Do you really believe that Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina are nihilists?

I am sure that the world would be a better place if Maureeen Dowd understood the concepts she bandies about.

Whatever Dowd means, “nihilistic” is the wrong word. These women are not running on nothing. They are running on principles, like free enterprise, the integrity of our borders, the ability to live within our means, obedience to the constitution, and respect for the will of the people.

You can disagree with their policies, but that does not make them nihilists. Many of them are libertarians; some are more traditionally conservative. None of it has anything to do with nihilism.

They do not reject social mores and social conventions. They are playing by the rules, and, for the most part, have respected social mores and conventions.

Some of them are even asserting their constitutional rights to bear arms.

They do not believe that life is pointless. They want to restore the value and dignity of work, and they want to reassert what they consider to be basic American values.

They are certainly not following in the footsteps of the 19th century Russian nihilists, who believed in destroying all authority through acts of terror and assassination.

Women running for political office, and playing by the rules of a democratic society, are not the heiresses of 19th century nihilists.

It takes more than a clever quip to make you a nihilist.


Chuck Pelto said...

TO: Dr. Schneiderman
RE: Sympathizing???!?!

You have to sympathize with Maureen Dowd. -- Stuart Schneiderman



[The Truth is coming out....and people like Dowd are having to face it...finally....]

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Sympathize??? I was trying to be ironic. It looks like I was not totally successful at it.

David Foster said...

Maureen Dowd seems to be under the impression that she is a "powerful women" and that men react negatively to must be a bit of an ego shock to her to compare her own level of power to that of someone like Meg Whitman.

Dennis said...

Dowd as the victim perpetrator meets real strong women and suffers insecurity attack and is not happy. That is the gist of it.

Chuck Pelto said...

TO: Dr. Schneiderman
RE: Irony....

Sympathize??? I was trying to be ironic. It looks like I was not totally successful at it. -- Stuart Schneiderman 'sarcasm', doesn't communicate well in textual formats. Maybe a smiley face would help.


[Writers get in shape by pumping irony. -- ;-)]