Sexy-time New York Times op-ed watch!


Ooh la la! Vive la sameness: As she sometimes does, Maureen Dowd has persuaded her bosses to let her waste their money in France.

(Did you ever ask yourself why the Times costs six dollars on Sunday?)

Ooh la la! Vive la difference! In today’s utterly worthless column, it’s sexy-time over in France:
DOWD (7/10/13): I am sitting across from Arnaud Montebourg, a free-market villain and romantic hero, the pol selected by Frenchwomen in a new French Elle magazine poll as a top candidate for having “a vacation love affair.”

The tall, elegant Montebourg, dressed in a black suit and black tie and flanked by black leather couches and two BlackBerrys, sits in a chic office above the Seine, charged with the quixotic task of reviving French industry.

He famously sent sales of Breton sailor tops surging when he posed in one to promote his “Made in France” campaign. The 50-year-old bachelor’s love life has been avidly chronicled, including the night he and his former girlfriend, the attractive black TV journalist Audrey Pulvar, were attacked by racist thugs.
Ooh la la! Dowd gets to tease us with whathisname’s love life and with a racist attack!

Vive la unending sameness! Times columnists have been working this beat for a very long time. Yesterday, Frank Bruni devoted his column to Weiner and Spitzer, two other sexy-time pols.

This is the way his column started, headline included:
BRUNI (7/9/13): Sex and the Sorriest Pols

Virginia is for lovers. New York is for penitents.

There are two in the headlines, Anthony and now Eliot. “Here We Ho Again!” trumpeted The New York Post. If this doesn’t save the tabloids, nothing will.

But before we go too far in lumping the men together or draw too many conclusions about priapism and punishment, let’s get our bearings.
Priapism! It’s a word they use when discussing sex to make you think they’re being smart. This morning, Bruni sneers at the tabloids, but only after he has stolen their very best line.

In fairness, there might be something of value to say about these sexy-time pols. If so, Bruni doesn’t seem to be saying it. We’d have to say that Frank and Maureen are cruising down some familiar rues in these well-twinned sexy-time columns. Along the way, we were struck by a few of Bruni’s tedious judgments:
BRUNI: It’s being said that [Weiner] and Spitzer are seeking “redemption.” For the purposes of this duo and this election, let’s be careful with that noun. While Spitzer is indeed considering an assignment inferior to his last office, his years in political exile weren’t dedicated to the “public service” whose clarion call he says he cannot resist. They were warm baths in his own voice: a show on CNN, followed by one on Current TV. Those gigs are over; he’s adrift. What he’s seeking is relevance.

Ditto for Weiner, who also didn’t use his timeout in any way that showed a greater devotion to the public good than to his own. He sought to convert his political connections into quick profits. He plotted his audaciously hasty return. And here he is in his colorful, look-at-me trousers, with his colorful, look-at-me debate antics, weathering the jokes, enduring us naysayers. Better to be ridiculed than to be ignored.

Already there’s chatter about whose infidelities are more forgivable: Spitzer’s, which were arguably a crime, or Weiner’s, which were creepier? This misses a crucial point. Both men fell as spectacularly as they did not because they got caught with their pants down but because none of their colleagues liked them much even with their pants up.
To Bruni, Weiner is a creepy-ass office seeker. We don’t necessarily disagree, but we were struck by way Bruni dismissed Spitzer’s interest in public service—and by the way he went after Weiner for amassing those “quick profits.”

We recalled the time when Bruni seemed to be chasing some quick profits too! In the aftermath of Campaign 2000, he wrote a book, Ambling Into History, in which he described his fourteen months covering Candidate Bush.

The book was intriguing because of the new facts Bruni revealed.

Indeed, Bruni opened his book with a highly unflattering account of some very strange behavior by Candidate Bush. But how odd! Bruni thought this (public) behavior was so striking that he used it to open his book. But in September 1999, when this peculiar conduct occurred, Bruni never mentioned it in the Times.

Neither did anyone else!

The second revelation in Bruni’s book involved the crucial, history-changing first Bush-Gore debate. In his book, Bruni revealed what he thought at the time: As he watched that first debate, he thought Candidate Bush was doing so poorly that he was “in the process of losing the presidency.”

This is what Bruni told the world, roughly eighteen months later:
BRUNI (page 187): By any objective analysis, Bush was at best mediocre in the first debate, in Boston...In all of [the debates], he was vague. A stutter sometimes crept into his voice. An eerie blankness occasionally spread across his features. He made a few ridiculous statements...I remember watching the first debate from one of the seats inside the auditorium and thinking that Bush was in the process of losing the presidency.
But how odd! In real time, Bruni reviewed the debate in the Times, conveying no such impression. In our view, he was substantially harder on Candidate Gore than on Candidate Bush.

Later, we learned what he actually thought. In real time, he failed to share!

For our initial report on this conduct by Bruni, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 3/18/02. As we wrote that incomparable day:

“Bruni thought Bush was performing so poorly that he ‘was in the process of losing the presidency.’ But when he described the event the next day, he opened with a four-paragraph passage about was a big *sshole Gore was.”

Sometimes, Bruni writes worthwhile columns. But he too can be seen as a slick money grabber.

Vive the sameness between his behavior and that of the pols he derides!


  1. Dowd portrays herself as being alone with a French middle aged sex symbol with a bit of a reputation for being a poon hound. I guess we're to infer that after the interview they got themselves a room -- or, as Maureen would point out in italics, un chambre.

    The other day she did a column on how she liked vampires more than zombies, suggesting to some perhaps that her sensibilities had more in common with tweener girls than with tweener boys.

    Vampires are often symbols of seduction. Was she broadcasting some of her not-so-deep-seated longings then, in anticipation of her journey to les ville de amour?

    1. Is she still seeing John Tierney, Mt. Libertarian of the Times?

    2. That would be une chamber. Gender matters in French, even when talking about Dowd.

  2. "Vive la unending sameness!"

    I'm surely not the only one who's noted the irony of that charge being leveled by TDH.

  3. Does anyone besides Bob S actually read Dowd? (If the poor woman, for all the worldly sophistication her French and general cynicism are supposed to make us wonder at and envy, only knew how obvious, and boring, her psychic life appears to be -- a narcissist's nightmare.)

    As for Bruni on on Weiner und Schnitzel, whatever his sins of the past (Bob S can't get over sins of the past), at least here he is discussing what is on everyone's mind in NYC politics right now. The NYT is, after all, a local as well as national paper.