Dowd on Romney: More thoughts!


Often giving imperious guidance on everything: Concerning Maureen Dowd’s column, we’ll offer a few more thoughts.

Our first thought comes in the form of a question: Has any “journalist” ever spent so much time rummaging in the underwear drawers of so many presidents, first ladies and presidential candidates? We paid a terrible price for this broken-souled obsession in the Clinton-Gore years, especially in the mainstream press coverage of Campaign 2000.

One specific example: Dowd’s horrific coverage of Candidate Gore helped send Bush to the White House. It’s absurd to pretend otherwise. Your country has paid a horrible price for this person’s borderline lunacy.

Many people have come to see how destructive that past obsession was. Dowd couldn’t wait to rummage around in those underwear drawers once again.

Our second thought concerns the following part of Dowd’s column, to which we paid insufficient attention this morning:
DOWD (10/19/11): In The Times on Sunday, Sheryl Gay Stolberg chronicled Romney’s role as a bishop in Boston often giving imperious pastoral guidance on everything from divorce to abortion.
Question: Does Stolberg’s lengthy front-page profile really portray Romney that way? Does she really show him “often giving imperious pastoral guidance on everything from divorce to abortion?” (With emphasis on the words “often” and “everything?”) We strongly suggest that you read Stolberg’s profile, if only to see the way you get played by horrible crackpots like Dowd.

We wouldn’t vote for Romney ourselves. But in a sane nation, a person like Dowd would have been canned long ago.

What was Romney like in the 1980s when he served as a Mormon bishop in the Boston area? We have no idea; nor can we say we hugely care. But we think Stolberg’s profile is well worth reading, if only as a way of checking the account you’ve been offered by Dowd.

Dowd has been at this a very long time. Here’s a stunning fact about our culture: The “press corps” “elite” think she’s smart.


  1. In Bob's view, Gore ran a masterful campaign, made no mistakes of his own, and perfectly leveraged his status as the vice president of a very popular POTUS who presided over 8 years of peace and prosperity. Gore did absolutely everything right, right down to NOT demanding a full hand recount in Florida when the supreme court there was practically begging David Boies to do so.

    Nope, Gore wasn't to blame at all. He did everything possible to maximize his position as the peace-and-prosperity veep. He did everything he could to slay a dim, inarticulate, and just lame opponent.

    Nope, it was all the fault of....Frank Rich and Maureen Dowd.

    Pssst, don't tell anyone, but Bob's other hero, Bill Clinton, thinks Al blew it....

  2. Oh, and Gore made just masterful use of Bill Clinton, turning him loose in every town and hamlet in the land to promise, "Vote for Al and the good times will keep rolling." Didn't push Bill away at all. Made perfect use of a sitting president with higher approval ratings than Ronald Bleepin Reagan.

  3. Um, yes it does read that way -- to the point where you begin to wonder if Stolberg went out of her way to find negative comments about him. I'm usually dead center with your critiques of Dowd, but I have no idea what you were reading in this case.

  4. As a female very close in age to Ms. Dowd I can say that she has not been a happy camper personally in a very long while if ever. This is exhibited in everything she writes. I find her an object of pity.

  5. Geoff, if you have to disingenuously characterize a person's position to make a "point," is that point really worth making?

    Also, were you alive, and on this planet, in the year 2000? Because I was, and I don't seem to remember Clinton as being a huge boon to anyone's campaign at that time.

  6. Jeez, Geoff. Gore started 2000 about 20 points down in the head to head polls against Bush and wound up winning the popular vote. I'd call that a pretty masterful campaign.

    And he also had to run not only against Bush but against a national press corps determined to write and talk about anything BUT the real issues.

    So we get Naomi Wolf and teaching Gore how to be a man, earth tone suits, three button suits, cowboy boots, growing up in a "posh" hotel, Love Story, Love Canal, "I invented the Internet", sighing during the first debate, all the way down to "Who would you rather have a beer with?"

    Can you imagine that had there been any hint that Gore pulled strings, got into the National Guard during Vietnam, then ditched his duties, can you even begin to imagine the endless press about THAT?

    If not, look at the way Kerry got "swift-boated." When the truth didn't work, make up some fantastic lies and pretend THAT is the issue.

  7. Click through and read Stolberg's column.

    Dowd's column is less about Romney than about a series of religious excesses that are strung together and associated with Romney as if he were personally responsible for being a con man, baptizing Anne Frank and even assigning Mormons their own planets in heaven. She might as well have called JFK a child molestor for being Catholic.

  8. Yes, Dowd has been doing this for a long time. Many years ago, a news article in the Times told how Clarence Thomas had written, from a black point of view, a passionate discussion of a case involving blacks. Dowd thereupon wrote a column chastising Thomas for not dealing with the legal issues.

    In fact, although the news article had focused on the passionate part, Thomas's decision had also included a very lucid discussion of the legal issues. The Times never printed a correction.

  9. I agree about the press coverage. But Clinton and Reagan were savaged by the press, and emerged as the most popular presidents in memory. Nixon was the ultimate press bête noir....slaughtered McGovern. Geez, W was mocked relentlessly by the media. Didn't keep him from winning re-election.

    Both sides, both tribes, bemoan mistreatment by the media. Since the Howler is all about speaking with the "other side," something I do daily, why don't you folks go ask your conservative friends about press coverage. Oh, and run by them the idea that any liberal has been mistreated.

  10. @Geoff: Maybe you would be interested in these books:

  11. Hardindr: confirmation bias.

  12. @Geoff: Is it confirmation bias if the evidence confirms that Reagan and GWB received flattering press coverage (for GWB at least until Hurricane Katrina)?

  13. @hardindr:

    The terse charge "confirmation bias" would appear to mean that in this case you are not dealing with a person who is persuadable.

    That was probably guessable from Geoff's first post, in which he demonstrated his profound rationality and respect for evidence.

    Rather than study press coverage, we should apparently collect some opinions from both liberals and conservatives -- that will surely demonstrate that all sides are biased in their own way.

    Fully justified cynicism and sarcasm to the side, if one wanted to continue the dialog on a rational basis, one might address the confirmation bias charge directly:

    Geoff, What evidence against his thesis did Gene Lyons fail to consider?

  14. Nona, I noted that Clinton got terrible press coverage. I agree that Gore did too. Many candidates and presidents get terrible coverage from our inane, personality driven, corporate media. I too could scour amazon for books that allege liberal bias. This is an endless tribal ping pong match of competing proof texts. It gives Gore supporters a thrill to feel he wax done wrong. And in many ways he was. I too was heartbroken in 2000 and by all that followed.

    But there seems to be no acknowledgement here that Gore did anything wrong, that he in any way snatched defeat from the jaws of peace and prosperity, that while his convention speech polled well, his people vs the powerful theme caused him to drop in the polls and just didn't ring true, that he and his lawyers failed to fight hard enough in Florida, and so forth.

    Others have been savaged by our inane press corps and survived and thrived. I agree with most of the criticism of that corps at his site, but to say that Gore suffered uniquely is absurd. And it gets you nowhere because no one believes it or cares.
    Academic studies on media bias are generally inconclusive. The only thing they suggest is that the media reflects the cultural and economic biases of the educated class: more socially liberal, pro free trade, less religious, less protectionist, generally more pro biz and fiscally conservative than the middle and working classes.

  15. @Geoff: I don't think Bob Somerby has ever claimed that Gore never "did anything wrong." Can you link to a Howler where he did? I think all Somerby has ever said is that Gore ran a competent campaign and that he campaigned no worse than GWB.

    Somerby has claimed that Gore was treated unlike any presidential candidate. I think he has supported that claim well at the Howler. What candidate has been treated worse than Gore?

    Yes, you could scour Amazon books alleging liberal media bias, and most of them would be full of old shoes (i.e. anything Ann Coulter has written). What's your point?

    You are probably right about the identification of media figures with upper class concerns and mores, which has been a major point of Bob's media criticism for over a decade. None of that contradicts what the media did to Gore in 2000.

  16. This comment has been removed by the author.

  17. "What evidence against his thesis did Gene Lyons fail to consider?"

    [buffalo dust]
    [more crickets]

  18. I think Bob's points about the press have been pretty clear all these years. Once they decide the narrative for someone,(particularly a politician) all events are framed to support the narrative without regard to truth. Beyond that, there is no amount of money you can pay a journalist that will make them do the even the most basic research on the topics they cover. In fact, he has been pretty much documenting that it is not in their best finacial interests to try.

  19. Maureen Dowd is a one trick pony. Her columns are always the same - she's too butch, he's too femme and everyone wants mommy and daddy's approval. I hated this kind of crap when I heard it in my Irish Catholic household in the 60's and it doesn't improve with age. Get rid of her and give the space to someone with something to say.

  20. I found an ordinary rich boy account of a personal nature concerning Romney , and his actions in his roles of faith and authority , as a Boston area bishop by Sheryl Gay Stolberg . His ego and assumptions fit the general idea of an inexperienced but decent human beings , with little idea of how the other half live .
    The writing posted by Mr. Somerby had a search engine quality answer , that could tolerably fit a frame of "imperious pastoral guidance on everything from divorce to abortion" hack job . I read the Stolberg contribution so I could either credit the Dowlish iconic Cliffs Notes lightning skim , or no .
    It seems clear the Maureen Dowd Cliffs Notes version missed little things , like the man , his actions , the context of his words with his actions carrying out his responsibilities as Bishop , and his consistency throughout .
    If you have read Maureen Dowd the surprise should be somewhat less than discovering she had made a contribution involving something like the mundane work of finding out things other people think and do . Things other than the attitude she has been carrying since , one guesses , a painfully awkward adolescent age .
    I am afraid I have little , or next to no stomach , for dear old Maureen and her take on Americans and other creatures . Experience demonstrates what one imagines as another carefully carved notch Maureen’s hilarious view of things 'not Maureen Dowd' life seems to offer , at the trifling expense of knowing anything at all .

  21. Man. Anybody in his right mind who has seen even some of the howler has got to know Gore was savaged in a still almost unbelievable way. Nothing before compares with it in the 'modern' age, I do believe. It is outrageous, compelling and fascinating reading to me.

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