Monday, October 01, 2007

Our Gate Keepers Are Idiots, Part II

Bob Somerby of The Daily Howler can be tiresome, repetitive, and occasionally wrong. What he also can be is incisive, cutting, and a necessary resource for tracking the on-going construction of press "narratives" about our Presidential candidates, said construction done by some of the most inane, shallow, non-self-reflective people imaginable. Two of his favorite targets, one of whom he skewers quite effectively today, is New York Times columnist Frank Rich. Another is the ridiculously vapid Maureen Dowd. Should one be interested in the dissection of a Rich's column by Somerby, click the above link. For now, we are going to concentrate on Dowd, who is taken to task by the folks at "Tapped", the blog of The American Prospect.

In today's piece, written by Scott Limieux, Maureen Dowd is taken to task for doing the heavy lifting for the right-wing:
And, of course, when it comes to crocodile tears about Bush after working assiduously for a year to put him in the White House, even Rich can't hold a candle to his embarrassing colleague Maureen Dowd. To let you know about the sexism that's inevitably coming, Dowd passes along some charming misogyny from Leon Wieseltier: "Others do not underestimate her relentlessness. As Leon Wieseltier, the literary editor of The New Republic, once told me: “She’s never going to get out of our faces. ... She’s like some hellish housewife who has seen something that she really, really wants and won’t stop nagging you about it until finally you say, fine, take it, be the damn president, just leave me alone." Question: can someone identify a male Republican presidential candidate being criticized for the crime -- highly unusual among people who want to be president! -- of being ambitious? Again, it's pretty clear that her too-little-too-late discovery that Bush is a bad president won't stop her from mounting an airhead assault on the most likely Democratic nominee.

The point here is not whether Sen. Clinton's ambition renders her unfit for office; the point is not how much one prefers, or doesn't prefer, Sen. Clinton as a potential candidate for President. The point here is, as Limieux makes clear, Dowd lifts a right-wing talking point and elevates it in to a major character flaw - her ambition. That Dowd, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and columnist, whose incessantly catty and demeaning pieces are a vital part of the increasing stupidity of our national political discourse, would attack Clinton in such a transparently sexist manner - imagine! a Presidential candidate who is ambitious! why, that's so unladylike! - is abominable. Of course, as my wife constantly reminds me, the cliqueishness of high school girls is far worse than anything among boys; this kind of thing is just an extension of that same kind of thinking - one makes oneself look better by excluding others who might be a threat to their social status. It is vapidity that is a marvel to behold.

One wonders why people as egregiously small-minded as this continue to publish for the "paper of record", and the only conclusion that I for one can reach is that the entire bunch of political reporters and pundits are also this superficial, this cheerleader-versus-geek minded, and really this dumb.

Meanwhile, people continue to die in Iraq, the Bush Administration continues to keep people in prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba without recourse to the most basic principles of Anglo-American law, and Bush and his neo-con publicists try to convince America we need to bomb Iran. All this, and all Maureen Dowd can complain about is a Presidential candidate who is ambitious. Saints preserve us.

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