Timesday: Maureen Dowd’s favorite novel!


A duchess is forced to snark back: In this morning’s silly-bill column, Maureen Dowd cites Ann Coulter, channels Nancy Grace. She asks a dumb rhetorical question—and somehow is able to tell us what happened between Herman Cain and those other two people.

Most amusingly, Dowd takes us inside her favorite novel—again! For the third White House campaign in a row, a literary allusion has come to Dowd. She shares at the start of her column:
DOWD (11/2/11): We have the starchy guy—tall, handsome, intelligent and rich, with a baronial estate—who’s hard to warm up to. And we have the spontaneous guy, who’s charming and easy to warm up to—until it turns out that he has an unsavory pattern with young women and a suspect relationship with facts.

It’s the Republican primary. Or “Pride and Prejudice.” Take your pick.
Good God, we thought. Not again! If Dowd was really going there, it would be her third straight election! But sure enough! Cain and Romney have made Dowd think of—who else?—Wickham and Darcy! “The Herminator was just a raffish passing fancy, like Mr. Wickham, a place for Republicans to store their affections while they try to overcome their aversion to Mitt Romney’s Mr. Darcy.”

So Dowd writes in this morning’s column, just as she did in 2008. And in 2004! For Dowd, it’s the White House election—or “Pride And Prejudice”—for the third campaign in a row! Please note—we quote two columns here:
DOWD (8/3/08): The odd thing is that Obama bears a distinct resemblance to the most cherished hero in chick-lit history. The senator is a modern incarnation of the clever, haughty, reserved and fastidious Mr. Darcy.

Like the leading man of Jane Austen and Bridget Jones, Obama can, as Austen wrote, draw "the attention of the room by his fine, tall person, handsome features, noble mien. ...he was looked at with great admiration for about half the evening, till his manners gave a disgust which turned the tide of his popularity; for he was discovered to be proud, to be above his company, and above being pleased."

The master of Pemberley "had yet to learn to be laught at," and this sometimes caused "a deeper shade of hauteur" to "overspread his features."


If Obama is Mr. Darcy, with "his pride, his abominable pride," then America is Elizabeth Bennet, spirited, playful, democratic, financially strained, and caught up in certain prejudices. (McCain must be cast as Wickham, the rival for Elizabeth's affections, the engaging military scamp who casts false aspersions on Darcy's character.)

DOWD (3/18/04): The election is shaping up as a contest between Pride and Prejudice.

Mr. Kerry is Pride.

He has a tendency toward striped-trouser smugness that led him to stupidly boast that he was more popular with leaders abroad than President Bush—playing into the Republican strategy to depict him as one of those "cheese-eating surrender monkeys."

Even when he puts on that barn jacket over his expensive suit to look less lockjaw—and says things like, "Who among us doesn't like Nascar?"—he can come across like Mr. Collins, Elizabeth Bennet's pretentious cousin in "Pride and Prejudice." Mr. Collins always prattles on about how lucky people would be to be rewarded by his patron, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, with "some portion of her notice" and to receive dollops of her "condescension."

Speaking to Chicago union workers last week, Mr. Kerry happily informed them that on the ride over, his wife, Teresa, had said she could live in Chicago. What affability, as Mr. Collins would say, what condescension.

Mr. Bush is Prejudice.

Like Miss Bennet, who irrationally arranged the facts to fit her initial negative assessment of Mr. Darcy, Mr. Bush irrationally arranges the facts to fit his initial assessment that 9/11 justified blowing off the U.N. and some close allies to invade Iraq.
Candidate Kerry was proud and haughty. But then, so was Candidate Obama.

Did you like this shit the first time around, back in 2004? Today, Dowd has gone for the hat trick! Of course, in a world where Gail Collins is allowed to cite Mitt Romney’s strapped dog in two dozen different columns, you can’t blame Dowd for cutting-and-pasting her handful of lame frameworks too.

Quite visibly, fatuous people like Collins and Dowd are simply going through the motions at this, our dumbest newspaper. But it’s perfectly A-OK! People! These are high ladies!

Two more notes about Dowd’s Darcy triptych:

As you may recall from 2004, Candidate Kerry didn’t really say, “Who among us doesn’t like NASCAR?” If memory serves, Dowd got that from a comedian somehow. In the wake of Campaign 2000, it was a New York Times family tradition: A bunch of folk at the Times mocked Candidate Kerry for saying what he never said.

Please don’t make us look it up. But it’s in our archives.

Concerning Dowd’s new column, she takes us to the heart of dumbness as she aims this jibe at Nate Silver. We’ll translate for you below:
DOWD (11/2/11): [Y]ou have to give Cain credit for breaking creative new ground in unconventional when he responds to a scandal about sexual-harassment complaints when he was chief of the National Restaurant Association in the ’90s by standing up at the National Press Club here and singing a gospel song about “Amazing Grace” to the tune of “Danny Boy.”

Yet despite the taunting tweet from the Times blogger Nate Silver the other day, before the sexual-harassment scandal broke, asking if there was “anyone out there who 1) gets paid to write about politics; 2) is so sure Cain can’t win that they promise to quit their job if he does,” Cain was never going to be the Republican nominee.
Dowd scolds this boy for his taunting tweet. Let us translate for you:

In his tweet, Silver challenged a very key part of the culture of dumb—the casual, worthless prediction. Silly predictions help pundits kill time! Without such low-IQ tools, what would the pundit class do?

Silver had challenged the culture of dumb! In the name of all that’s lazy and stupid, Lady Dowd had to snark back.


  1. Beyond the bad writing, Dowd perpetuates a folklore. She "simplifies" facts to a point of invalidity.

    Does Cain have an "unsavory pattern with young women"? All we know is that a woman said some action by Cain made her "uncomfortable" and received a cash settlement of a year's salary. But, we don't know what Cain did. We don't if the woman was young. We don't know if there's a pattern.

    (On a personal note, I received a similar cash settlement after being fired. Unlike the woman who made a claim against Cain, I hadn't alleged any wrongdoing by the company. Nevertheless, they offered me 9 months' salary extenion, which vested my pension, just to be sure I wouldn't sue them.)

    Did Bush "blow off the U.N. and some close allies to invade Iraq"? On the contrary, we took the trouble to make a major presentation at the UN (which included a lot of incorrect statements.) We secured a strong UN resolution against Saddam, although they never qutie approved overthrowing him. And, as I recall, the only close ally who objected to the Iraq campaign was France, whose leaders had been bribed by Saddam, via the Oil for Food scam.

  2. To "blow off" suggests to me "to engage or seek consul, only to ignore" (my def), which might well define W's dance at the UN only to go ahead and Shock and Awe even though they "never quite approved." I guess American Exceptionalism dictates that only our close allies get a say, but I am on solid ground blowing off links to Rev. Moon.

    Yes, powerful, rich, or famous people often have to lay out money to make nuisance suits go away, but as anyone who has ever watched Dennis Miller spit shinning Bill O'Reilly's butt well knows, Republicans have a bit of a consistency problem on this issue. Seeing as they kept future Penthouse model Paula Jones on staff for several years until they could tie it to Impeaching the President (meaninglessly, as the vote fell down party lines). Indeed, it seems likely to me it's his fellow Republicans who dredged this up to make Cain go away.

    I think we see in Dowd ties back to another kind of journalism, the trash talking entertainment scribe. Indeed, Hedda Hopper and Ed Sullivan made their politics well known though they were not on the editorial page. Dowd in all her awfulness, seems to me, harkens back to this tradition.

  3. Greg said...

    "I think we see in Dowd ties back to another kind of journalism, the trash talking entertainment scribe."

    She's also a social power in Washington, D.C. which ties in with your point.

    Apparently an invite to her 2008 election party was among the hottest tickets in the city.

    I wouldn't know about that first hand. I saw some msnbc pundits teasing each other about getting an invite or not and coming to the set straight from the party.

    I've been ignoring her since the Clinton years but Mr. Somerby does have a point about her vacuousness.

  4. Well now we know why Dowd needs a research assistant - to look up whatever she wrote about the last election and update it with different names!

  5. Hey, way to rewrite history. Bit by bit.

    It isn't even a bit funny that after the Iraq horror show, the only meat on your comment is a link from The Washington Times on Sadddam profiteering and French corruption -- which you point to, apparently seriously, in order to adduce support from allies for what ultimately has become the graveyard of at least hundreds of thousands.

    This is as to gesture with disgust at flies and maggots, on a corpse one has murdered oneself. Of course I mean our country, not ourselves -- despite our fine democracy, we would never dream of holding ourselves individually responsible for the complete carnage inflicted by our country on Iraq.

    It is also of course to completely elide the meaning of support. We generally recognize among our closest allies, nations we regard as democratic. To point to official support without recognizing that it came in many nations against overwhelming popular disapproval is to tell a lie by giving less than half the truth.

    Either support for our crimes matters or it doesn't, but we shouldn't pretend to have had support we didn't.

    And as for the time period of your supposed interest in the case of "Oil for Food," and particularly the questions of who benefited, who got harmed, and who had the power to change things, I suggest <a href="
    http://www.amazon.com/Different-Kind-War-Sanctions-Regime/dp/1845452224">a reference significantly more enlightening than the WT synopsis of the Duelfer report.</a>

  6. David in Cal,

    "...the only close ally who objected to the Iraq campaign was France, whose leaders had been bribed by Saddam, via the Oil for Food scam."
    So what? Halliburton did the same thing, and I specifically recall Dick Cheney supporting the Iraq campaign. Maybe France objected to the campaign for other reasons. (Or Cheney backed it for other rea$on$ himself).

  7. HAHAHAHAHAHA. I get it. Dowd read Pride and Prejudice in high school and it's one of the few grown-up people books she can cite in her columns.

    She'd read more fiction, but that's what she has research assistants for!

  8. Lest we forget, "although they never qutie approved overthrowing him" means the UN never approved the invasion of Iraq. It's like saying "state law never quite approved my binge drinking/reckless driving last night."

    Germany, Canada, and Russia also strongly opposed invasion although since the American right hates France, France was the only one vilified. (And if you want to make fun of the French, the oil for food stuff is small peanuts compared to the Total oil contract France had in Saddam's Iraq. but the latter imputes the US's credibility since the US just wanted to take that contract.)

    Not that that should matter. France, et al, were right, the US was wrong. If we should be examining anyone's motivations, we should start with the country that lied to the UN instead of the ones that were right.

  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

  10. The rewrite of history stands. The post commenting on it disappears. OK Bob.