TonedeafGate's natural end: Let's face it. TonedeafGate wasn't going to end until Maureen Dowd had a chance to weigh in.
Yesterday, Dowd took her turn. To her credit, she didn't say that Bill Clinton was "tone deaf" during last week's MelvinGate. She started by saying this:
DOWD (6/10/18): Book tours can be brutal.Goody Dowd, please! If it's "public shaming" we seek, a large amount of public shaming was performed twenty years ago.
It took 20 years for Bill Clinton to be properly publicly shamed for the ugly bargain at the heart of the Clinton operation.
For starters, Judge Starr wrote everything down so everybody could read it. Along with that, the various networks were careful to let us see the "good parts" of Clinton's four-hour dunking before Judge Starr's grand jury.
If it's public shaming you want, a lot occurred back then.
We're not huge fans of public shaming ourselves. But if you are, you might ask yourself this:
When the heck does the public shaming of Maureen Dowd begin?
Long ago and far away, Katherine Boo warned us about the dangers of "Creeping Dowdism." Even now, 26 years later, you can't read Boo's 3700-word essay on line. Because of Dowd's standing within the industry, the Washington Monthly is still too afraid to put her piece on line.
That said, the Dowdism Boo tried to warn us about has engineered widespread cultural rot. Even now, a full twenty years later, people like Dowd want to talk about Clinton's affair.
In the end, they want to discuss nothing else. Dowd has been a high-profile New York Times columnist since 1995. Can you name a single substantive topic on which she has shed any light over those many long years?
Instead, Dowd wants to talk about who's zioomin' who. In truth, she wants to talk about nothing else, aside from 1) male politicians' hair and 2) male Democrats' crummy, embarrassing wives.
Beyond that, she wants to kiss the asp of power, which explains how she managed to position Uma Thurman as the "goddess" heroine of Harvey Weinstein's depredations—concerning which Thurman, a powerful Hollywood player, ran off and hid in the grass.
Maureen Dowd is like that. People are dead all over the world because the Dowdism crept, then spread. On the Sunday before George W. Bush got elected, she was writing her three millionth column mocking Candidate Gore and his deeply ludicrous bald spot.
Was Bill Clinton wrong to engage in his affair with Monica Lewinsky? On balance, yes he was—if only because people like Dowd were hiding in the bushes. People like Dowd and the all-too-human goodies and Dimmesdales she empowers.
They were hiding in the bushes, waiting to do what they could.
Near the end of yesterday's column, Dowd offers the passage shown below, proving that, as her Dowdism crept, her sense of shame scurried off into the grass:
DOWD: Monica Lewinsky has finally emerged from a long period of being frozen in amber, after the capricious behavior of Bill Clinton and the smearing of Clintonworld. And that’s a relief.The smearing by Clintonworld? In this 2014 essay for Vanity Fair, Lewinsky recalled the devastation wreaked on her by none other than Maureen Dowd! In retaliation, Dowd unloaded nastily on Lewinsky all over again.
You can pick through that garbage can here. That was the continued "smearing by Maureenworld," a smearing which was still underway as of May 2014.
In response to Dowd's new column, several veteran commenters told it like it was. An early commenter from New York recalled a few of Dowd's many comments about Lewinsky—the comments which help explain why Bill Clinton should never have engaged with Lewinsky, whatever the nature of their personal relationship may, or may not, have been:
COMMENTER FROM NEW YORK (6/10/18): Give me a break. Dowd has piled on Monica Lewinsky more viciously and gleefully and fecklessly than practically all the other "slut-shamers" combined.In closing, we'll make a pair of suggestions. First, we'll recommend Lewinsky's 2014 essay for Vanity Fair, the one which brought the poison pen reaction from Dowd.
Here are a few of her memorable quotes about Monica:
"For sheer cringe-worthiness, a Monica lipstick ad, focusing on those shiny pillow lips, would probably top a Bob Dole erectile dysfunction ad.”
"It is Ms. Lewinsky who comes across as the red-blooded predator, wailing to her girl friends that the President wouldn't go all the way.”
Monica is still waiting for her personal apology, Ms. Dowd, and so, probably, are millions of other readers.
Lewinsky's essay was insightful all the way through. In one especially horrific example, she quoted from an all-feminist colloquy in The Observer back when the excitement was new, in 1998. Here's what Lewinsky wrote:
LEWINSKY (6/14): Sure, my boss took advantage of me, but I will always remain firm on this point: it was a consensual relationship. Any “abuse” came in the aftermath, when I was made a scapegoat in order to protect his powerful position.At that point, Lewinsky quoted some of what was said by those high-minded feminists. We strongly recommend that you read Lewinsky's selection of comments—and then, that you go back and read the whole Observer piece.
A handful of representatives of the modern feminist movement did chime in, obliquely. Yet, instead of any meaningful engagement, we got this: January 30, 1998. Day Nine of the scandal. Cocktails at Le Bernardin, in Manhattan. In attendance: writers Erica Jong, Nancy Friday, Katie Roiphe, and Elizabeth Benedict; Saturday Night Live writer Patricia Marx; Marisa Bowe, the editor of Word, an online magazine; fashion designer Nicole Miller; former dominatrix Susan Shellogg; and their host, Le Bernardin co-owner Maguy Le Coze. The New York Observer brought this coven together to trade Interngate insights, to be recorded by Francine Prose...
Make yourself fight through it! For ourselves, we can't believe that Francine Prose took part in that appalling event. But in that Observer piece from 1998, you see where things had already gone as the Dowdism rapidly crept.
You see the appalling, ludicrous world that Maureen Dowd helped build. You see why it's important that we try to avoid letting people like Dowd define the public agenda.
Can we talk? Once you give people like Dowd permission to talk about famous people's sexual acts, that's all they'll ever want to discuss. As a nation, we end up with a creep and hustler like Stephanie Clifford parading around as she sells and re-sells "her story," even being accepted as a feminist/liberal star in the process.
Once you let Dowd's agenda creep, it's soon the only agenda we have! She pimped for Trump[ all through the last election she hated the Clintons so bad.
Go ahead—read that 1998 colloquy in the Observer. This is who and what our human race is once you let an attractive weirdo like Dowd set a nation's agenda.
Final important point: You'll never see your favorite corporate stars criticize Maureen Dowd. Dowd is too powerful in the business, and the children are all too scared.
There will be no "public shaming" of Dowd. Dearest darlings, use your heads! Our top liberal stars won't permit it!