And for all the heated rhetoric being thrown at him [President Obama] these days -- socialist, sellout, soporific, yadda yadda yadda -- I don't think anyone has accused him of a racial approach to politics. People want to know what he's doing about unemployment and health care and climate change. In a very real sense, he seems to have transcended race.
(I was going to make a Tiger Woods analogy here, but at the moment that seems like a decidedly bad idea.)
Kurtz isn't the first media figure to inexplicably link Obama and Woods:
And, of course, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd strained to find similarity between Tiger Woods and White House social secretary Desiree Rogers, coming up with some drivel about both of them being entitled swans.
I'm still waiting for a media figure to compare a white political figure to Tiger. Maybe John Ensign? Both (allegedly) offered hush money to keep affairs quiet. But I guess some journalists think that's a bit of a stretch -- not like the obvious similarities between Woods and Rogers.
Ah, Maureen Dowd:
They were both elegant and entitled swans, insulated in guarded enclaves, obsessed with protecting and promoting the Brand.
Tiger Woods and Desiree Rogers are perfectionist high-achievers brought low. They both ran into that ubiquitous modern buzz saw of glossy celebrity wannabes - Vegas parasites and Washington parvenus.
She mistook herself for the principal, sashaying around and posing in magazines as though she were the first lady, rather than a staffer whose job is to stay behind the scenes and make her bosses look good.
"Entitled"? "Sashaying around"?
A White House staffer "posing in magazines" isn't particularly unusual, as Maureen Dowd surely knows. So what is it about Desiree Rogers that prompted Dowd to describe her as "sashaying around" and thinking "she were the first lady, rather than a staffer"? She doesn't explain. Instead, she struggles to find similarity between Rogers and Tiger Woods. You know, because they're both entitled swans.
Meghan McCain writes about the sexist double-standards women in politics face:
The brutal criticism of Sarah Palin-which will only increase when her memoir comes out-is yet another example of the double standard and cruel treatment of women in politics. Sarah has been attacked for everything from her hair to her clothes to the number of children she gave birth to. Maureen Dowd even nicknamed her "Caribou Barbie." I can't even begin to think of what that kind of judgment-criticizing parts of your life that have nothing to do with what you stand for or want to accomplish politically-feels like.
Now, I'm not about to deny that women in politics often face double-standards and outright misogyny in the way the media treats them. They do, as I have often written. And that's something that should be addressed more frequently, so I'm glad McCain has done so.
But Maureen Dowd calling Sarah Palin "Caribou Barbie" isn't an example of a double-standard in which Dowd only makes such comments about women, it's an example of Dowd being a nasty and utterly pointless columnist who relentlessly mocks politicians -- male and female -- she dislikes, often focusing on their personal appearance or what she claims is their deviation from gender norms.
Dowd has called Barack Obama a "debutante" and a "pretty boy" and "effete" and compared him to Scarlett O'Hara. She repeatedly referred to John Edwards as "The Breck Girl" and a "Material Boy" and "Secretary of Hairdressing," and at least once dedicated an entire column to an Edwards hair cut. Dowd mocked Edwards for visiting "the Pink Sapphire spa in Manchester, which offers services for men that include the 'Touch of Youth' facial, as well as trips 'into the intriguing world of makeup.'" (Dowd remained silent about John McCain's own foray into the "intriguing world of makeup" at the Pink Sapphire.) And Dowd famously wrote that Al Gore was "so feminized ... he's practically lactating." (See, Gore wore a brown suit, and ... uh ... Well, actually, that was about it.)
Of course, all of these insults from Dowd are fundamentally sexist in nature. She belittles male politicians she doesn't like by, basically, calling them women. The obvious underlying assumption is that being feminine is a bad thing. So even when she obsesses over a male politician's personal characteristics, she often does so in a way that indirectly insults women.
But Dowd's reference to Sarah Palin as "Caribou Barbie" isn't an example of her singling out women for criticism over "parts of [their] life that have nothing to do with what [they] stand for or want to accomplish politically." It's an example of her behaving like a mean-spirited seventh-grader with little of substance to say.
And it's a reminder that it actually understates the misogyny in Dowd's columns to suggest that she critiques the physical appearance of only women in politics.
[P]artly due to the Internet, the standards of behavior in this new country are terrible.
If Beaver and Wally were around today, they'd likely be writing snarky, revealing blogs about June and Ward.
It wasn't "the Internet" that called John Edwards "The Breck Girl" -- that was Maureen Dowd.
It wasn't "the Internet" that described Al Gore as "so feminized ... he's practically lactating" -- that was Maureen Dowd.
It wasn't "the Internet" that described Barack Obama as "effete" and a "pretty boy" and a "debutante" and mockingly compared him to Scarlett O'Hara -- that was Maureen Dowd, too.
It wasn't "the Internet" that called Hillary Clinton "Mistress Hillary" and "Mommie Dearest." Dowd, yet again.
Maybe some of that had a little something to do with the breakdown of civility in public discourse, and the rise in snark? I mean, just maybe?
First Andrea Mitchell attributed Hillary Clinton's response to a question in Congo to a "bad hair day," and now Tina Brown joins in with an over-the-top bit of psychobabble that also invokes Clinton's hair as an explanation:
And not only that, but (and I say this in solidarity, not belittlement) the African humidity had wreaked havoc on her hair. It had gone all flat and straight, which puts any woman in a bad humor. (Let's not forget: It was a sympathetic reference to the female-specific chore of keeping perfectly coiffed that made Hillary's eyes fill with tears back in New Hampshire.) Plus, the grueling State Department schedule means these days she can never get to the gym.
Believe it or not, that isn't any crazier than the rest of Brown's fevered imaginings.
And like Maureen Dowd, Brown expects us to believe that Hillary Clinton's response was caused in part by her annoyance at Bill Clinton celebrating his birthday "at such a fancy, high-priced restaurant as Craftsteak?" I'll say this again: Yes, Craftsteak is obscenely expensive, but I'm pretty sure the Clintons, worth tens of millions of dollars, can cover a dinner there.
Is there some of Mad-Libs book of pre-fabricated insanely speculative columns about the Clintons these people all picked up at a mid-1990s CPAC convention? If so, how was I not aware of it earlier?
Anyway, all of this crazytalk about flat hair and expensive steaks is as unnecessary as it is implausible. I'm not saying Clinton was right to respond the way she did -- but her response was perfectly understandable based on nothing more than the content of the question as it was relayed to her. There's really no need to invent some fantasy in which she was cranky because her husband sprung for the Kobe beef on his birthday.
... Fantasizing about the Clintons' and their marriage.
Let's start with Dowd's description of Hillary Clinton's response to a question at a town hall in Africa:
Using tough hand gestures not seen since "The Sopranos" went off HBO, Hillary snapped back at an African college student who asked about the growing influence of China on Africa and then, according to the translator, wanted to know: "What does Mr. Clinton think?"
It turned out that the student was trying to ask how President Obama felt about it. But before he was able to clarify, the secretary of state flared: "Wait, you want me to tell you what my husband thinks? My husband is not the secretary of state. I am."
Yeah, the Secretary of State looked just like a gang of murderous thugs. If, that is, you're a delusional columnist bent on portraying her in the worst possible light. Now, did Clinton "snap back" and "flare" before the student was able to clarify? Well, she "paused nearly nine seconds" before responding to the question. When was this clarification Dowd imagines going to come? Nine minutes after the question had been asked?
Speaking of the question, Dowd's paraphrase of it seems more innocuous than it really was. Clinton wasn't simply asked "What does Mr. Clinton think?" She was asked "We have all heard about Chinese contracts in this country, the interferences from the World Bank about this contract. What does Mr. Clinton think through the mouth of Mrs. Clinton?"
A little more understandable how someone would have a negative reaction to that wording, isn't it?
Back to Dowd:
[W]e all know Hillary could just as well have made the same comment in Paris. (And looking unhinged about your marriage on an international stage hardly empowers women.) She may have been steamed about Bill celebrating his upcoming 63rd birthday in Las Vegas with his posse. The Times's Adam Nagourney irritated Clinton Inc. when he reported that Bill went to the pricey Craftsteak restaurant at the MGM Grand HoteltMonday night with Hollywood moguls Steve Bing and Haim Saban, and former advisers Terry McAuliffe and Paul Begala, among others.
"Unhinged" is quite clearly a wild exaggeration. And does Maureen Dowd really expect us to believe Hillary Clinton's reaction was a result of being "steamed" that Bill Clinton celebrated his birthday at a "pricey" restaurant? Craftsteak surely is expensive, but I'm pretty sure the Clintons can afford it.
This is pure fantasy.
From the August 5th edition of MSNBC's The Ed Show:
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Per THE NYTPICKER:
"The Times does not allow writers to replicate language without attribution."
Those words appear in a NYT Editor's Note this morning, holding a freelance writer accountable for an "unwitting" lift from another writer's email in last Sunday's NYT Magazine cover story on whales.
But those words apply equally to NYT columnist Maureen Dowd, who replicated language from a friend's email -- which turned out to be plagiarized -- without attribution in her May 13 column. Yet her clear violation of that NYT policy has continued to go unaddressed by the NYT.
The NYT's double-standard in protecting Dowd on recent charges of plagiarism were never clearer than in this morning's Editor's Note -- putting freelance writer Charles Siebert out to dry for appropriating a handful of descriptive words from a source's email in his 7,498-word account of the way whales may be communicating with humans.
Siebert -- a successful author who has written several cover stories for the NYT Magazine, with particular emphasis on animals -- claims his mistake was "unwitting." Dowd called hers "inadvertent." Why does Dowd's explanation take her off the hook, while Siebert gets punished with an extensive editor's note?
Two months after lifting the contents on an entire email from a friend and putting it in her May 17 column -- learning later that the passage had been plagiarized from blogger Josh Marshall -- Dowd has never explained those events to readers, or had them addressed in any form other than a brief, benign next-day correction. Since then, Dowd and NYT officials have repeatedly ignored requests from The NYTPicker for comment on whether the paper conducted any internal investigation into Dowd's actions, to determine the truth of her flimsy account.
Predictable. You just can't win with Dowd and Politico. Today, Dowd wrote that Obama would be wise to showcase healthy food in his next photo-op because that's what "America really needs." Politico44 then linked to her column with the headline "Fitness flip-flop?"
(You know, just asking!)
[M]aybe when Charlie Gibson and Diane Sawyer come next week to broadcast a special on health care from inside the White House, the president should forgo the photo-op of the grease-stained bovine bag and take the TV stars out for what he really wants and America really needs: some steamed fish with a side of snap peas.
Yes, that's the same person who wrote:
As Margaret Carlson told Mike Barnicle on "Hardball," in a segment called "Is Obama Too Cool?" about whether he relates to average Americans, sometimes you just want to tell the guy, "Eat the doughnut."
The person who wrote:
At the Wilbur chocolate shop in Lititz Monday, he spent most of his time skittering away from chocolate goodies, as though he were a starlet obsessing on a svelte waistline.
Yes, that's coming from the same person who offered the following advice just last year:
If Obama offers only eat-your-arugula chiding and chilly earnestness, he becomes an otherworldly type, not the regular guy he needs to be.
He's already in danger of seeming too prissy about food - a perception heightened when The Wall Street Journal reported that the planners for Obama's convention have hired the first-ever "director of greening," the environmental activist Andrea Robinson.
The New York Times' Maureen Dowd falsely claimed that President Obama is not "liv[ing] up to his own no-earmark pledge from the campaign," echoing a Times article false claim that Obama made "campaign promises to put an end to the practice" of earmarks and Sen. John McCain's accusation that Obama has gone back on a promise to "work to eliminate ... earmarks." In fact, Obama promised to reform the earmark process and cut wasteful spending.
New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd responded to complaints about her frequent use of gender stereotypes by saying that "nobody had objected to her use of similar images about men over seven presidential campaigns," according to Times public editor Clark Hoyt. However, many writers and organizations -- including Media Matters for America -- have noted Dowd's feminization of male Democratic presidential candidates.
A Media Matters for America review of Maureen Dowd's columns since the beginning of 2007 reveals that Dowd frequently characterized Sen. Hillary Clinton as masculine, while portraying Sen. Barack Obama and John Edwards as feminine. By contrast, Dowd rarely feminized the all-male Republican field and, during the period Media Matters reviewed, has never feminized Sen. John McCain, whom she has referred to in one column as a "tough guy."
On Fox News, Morton M. Kondracke presented a "theory" for why Sen. Hillary Clinton may be having a "good time" on the campaign trail: "[S]omebody I know has a theory about this. Remember back when [Bill] Clinton was president of the United States, people said that he's really Satan because he walks through life and people collapse around him and go to jail and die, and all this kind of stuff? Well, this person says Hillary's a vampire. She's sucking the blood out of Barack Obama." Kondracke did not name his "theor[ist]," but the purported "theory" has been publicly articulated before, by New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd.
In recent days, members of the media asserted that Sen. Hillary Clinton displayed "mood swings," "could be depressed," "[r]esembl[ed] someone with multiple personality disorder," and "has turned into Sybil."
Responding to an online commenter who said that a lot of women are "getting incredibly angry about the progressively dismissive way" Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton "gets treated by the [New York Times columnist Maureen] Dowds and [MSNBC host Chris] Matthews of the world," The Washington Post's Anne E. Kornblut asserted, "I think there is something to that" and "certainly Chris Matthews has taken her on quite aggressively over the last few weeks."