Debunking another blunder by Dowd!


The Truman Library speaks: Maureen Dowd’s “week that was” was really quite a week!

Last Sunday, she wrote a ludicrous column about the vile Clintons, the three millionth such column in her ongoing decade-long series. Three days later, she wrote a column so grossly bungled that even some journalists noticed!

Yesterday, she pandered to us liberals in the same way she did the last time she got into trouble. She wrote a fawning, GOP-bashing column in which she played a race card!

That seems to be what Dowd does when she gets in trouble. She seems to know that silly, insincere fawning will win back liberal hearts.

She seems to know that our attention spans are very short. She seems to know that our brains are just a bit weak. She can slander Democratic front-runners for years, as long as she tosses us the occasional bone—a column in which she attacks a no-name GOP pol while playing a slippery race card.

Needless to say, this buy-back seems to work! In yesterday’s comments, Dowd’s regular readers were quickly praising her obvious brilliance.

Before long, two regular commenters staged the pathetic call-and-response shown below. As you read their love cries, please remember: we the liberals consider ourselves to the smart tribe!
I want to say clearly & loud
I love you today Maureen Dowd,

Lambasted the bigots
Their bile spewing spigots,
Of your sterling effort I'm proud!

Hear, hear! When she's good, Maureen is really good! Thank you, Ms. Dowd!
The liberal world is very easy and very soft. Unfortunately, Dowd seems to know it!

Tomorrow, we’ll show you what Dowd did the last time she got into trouble, back in 2008. For today, let’s review another groaner from last week's week that was.

Last Sunday, Dowd wrote her ten millionth lunatic column about how vile the Clintons are. Her headline screeched in lunatic fashion: “Money, Money, Money, Money, MONEY!”

At one point, Dowd offered this pleasing tale about President Truman, who was so very very good while Clinton is so very bad:
DOWD (8/18/13): As George Packer wrote in The New Yorker, Bill Clinton earned $17 million last year giving speeches, including one to a Lagos company for $700,000. Hillary gets $200,000 a speech.

Until Harry Truman wrote his memoirs, the ex-president struggled on an Army pension of $112.56 a month. “I could never lend myself to any transaction, however respectable,” he said, “that would commercialize on the prestige and dignity of the office of the presidency.”

So quaint, Packer wrote, observing, “The top of American life has become a very cozy and lucrative place, where the social capital of who you are and who you know brings unimaginable returns.”
Groan. In the post to which Dowd referred, Packer noted that the Clintons are pretty much like everyone else in this country today. Smoothing that point, Dowd kept acting like everyone else still behaves like poor impoverished Truman.

She specifically said the Clintons were the worst of them all.

As it turns out, Dowd wasn’t even right about Truman. In this morning’s Times, a letter from the Truman Library explains that her portrait of Truman’s retirement was yet another groaner:
LETTER TO THE NEW YORK TIMES (8/26/13): Maureen Dowd correctly notes that as a former president, Harry S. Truman stated that he would never involve himself in “any transaction, however respectable, that would commercialize on the prestige and dignity of the office of the presidency.” Citing an article by George Packer in The New Yorker, she also writes that in retirement, the Trumans “struggled” to get by on a $112.56 monthly Army pension. She is correct about the pension, but the Trumans were far from impoverished.

Family manuscripts made available to the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum after the death of the Trumans’ daughter, Margaret Truman Daniel, in 2008, reveal that the former president had planned carefully.

Truman put a considerable amount of his presidential salary into savings (perhaps as much as 20 or 25 percent of his $100,000 annual compensation from 1945 to 1953), and he owned more than 400 acres of farmland near Kansas City, Mo.

In two handwritten documents prepared for his wife, Bess, an undated “in case disaster overtakes me” and “in case of my passing on Dec. 1953” (Truman was to undergo a gallbladder operation), he estimated his net worth to be $750,000.

Indeed, his prudent retirement planning and modest living habits provided for a more than adequate retirement.

Director, Harry S. Truman Library and Museum
Independence, Mo., Aug. 21, 2013
In his first year out of office, Truman was worth $750,000. And that was in 1953! Go ahead! Adjust for inflation!

We don’t say this to denigrate Truman. We say this to denigrate Dowd and her editors:

If the Truman Library knows its stuff, Harry Truman didn’t “struggle on an Army pension of $112.56 a month” until he wrote his memoirs. He did receive a pension of that size, but he “was far from impoverished,” the Library says.

Warning! Packer provided no source for his account of Truman’s struggle, which Dowd simply seemed to accept as accurate. (That's the way upper-end “journalists” do it.) That said, this Wikipedia article presents the claim of “financial challenges” just as Packer offered it.

But uh-oh! Wikipedia cites this 1953 newspaper report as its source, and that same report specifically says that Truman wouldn’t be financially challenged, in part because he had saved part of his salary as president.

Dowd’s column last Sunday was her ten millionth lunatic column about the evil Clintons. Ten million more will follow.

In the future, Dowd may commit new errors so obvious that even the press corps will have to notice. If so, she’ll quickly write a make-up column in which she race-baits some no-name Republican member of Congress, preferably a rodeo clown or a Santa Claus impersonator.

We the liberals will rush into line to tell her all is forgiven. We the liberals are very dumb.

Dowd seems to know this fact well.


  1. A $750k nest egg in 1953 is worth nearly $6.5 million in 2013 dollars.

    1. yeah but it's worth only about $750k in 1953 dollars. Think about it.

    2. Yes, minimum wage was .75 cents an hour and you could by a Coke for 5 cents and a whole meal for $1.50. A one bedroom apt in an upscale urban area (in LA or Chicago) went for $50/mo. You could buy a good new car for less than $1000 and a suburban house for $10-15,000. Think about it.

    3. Flat screen TV's were only 90 dollars at Costco and wireless internet were as low as 4 dollars a month depending on the plan you chose.

  2. Will some intern or fact checker get in trouble for this? Will it derail their fast-track from Harvard to the big leagues? What kind of butt-kissing will he or she have to do to get back into Dowd's good graces?

  3. I agree that with the pricey speeches for corporations, Bill Clinton is doing what pols on both sides of the aisle do.

    I don't think that method of feathering the nest is comparable to the Truman family's comfortable retirement via having had a "modest living style", and putting his salary into savings.

    The point wasn't just about seeking wealth, but about what Pres. Truman thought as being a commercialization of the office.

    There's no doubt that the Clintons aren't doing anything Republicans don't do here, and it's not immoral. But isn't being on the corporation tour gig something that give liberals pause?

    1. Is the Clinton Foundation a good thing? Raising money for that foundation might be a good thing. Why are they portrayed as venal for a charitable foundation?

  4. "She seems to know that silly, insincere fawning will win back liberal hearts."

    There's Somerby's favorite s-word again -- "seems."

    But you know, that presumes that Down won "liberal hearts" in the first place so se could win them back.

    I have no idea of the politics of the Maureen Down Fan Club. But I strongly suspect they don't quite fit neatly into "liberal/conservative" labels. They read her for their own reasons, which this "liberal" can't even begin to imagine, since on the few occasions I have read her, she seems to be more consumed by showing off her own cleverness than her intelligence.

    Perhaps she fawns both ways to hold her audience?

  5. bob somerby says,

    "In the post to which Dowd referred, Packer noted that the Clintons are pretty much like everyone else in this country today. Smoothing that point, Dowd kept acting like everyone else still behaves like poor impoverished Truman."

    >>> perhaps dowd was tacitly contrasting hillary clintons most likely competitor, joe biden, who does fit dowds apparent idea of financial propriety among elected public servants.

  6. Joe Biden is still in office. The situations aren't comparable.

    1. the clinton family made much of their money with hillary clinton holding public office as senator and secretary of state while giving her husband more valuable clout with the american government during her time in those offices.

      additionally, because of the offices she held, she greatly enhanced her chances for winning the presidency in 2008 and now 2016, and in that way also enhanced her husbands attractiveness to wealthy special interests who perennially seek favored treatment from the government.

  7. OMB (Oh My Bob)

    Is Bob thrashing some of the lowest of the low hanging fruit in the journalistic jungle just to divert attention from what is obviously a Marueen Dowd column which seems to have been directly borrowed from Bob's effort just two days before?

    On the eve of the 50th anniversary of King's "Dream" Speech, Bob wrote a post that pandered to us liberals.

    He played the "R" card.

    Attacked by his commenters for covering toe nail polish columns, endless efforts to use Joyce to humiliate the press for not acknowledging its errors in the ritual literary lynching of Al Gore, and an unceasing attack on all icons progressive, Bob responded by playing the Rush card.

    Like Dowd, he threw in race and rodeo clowns too!

    By invoking Limbaugh and the great Vince Foster lie,
    he thought liberals would chew happily on that bone. We wouldn't notice because our brains are a bit weak, that he was actually appealing to his new found Zimmermonian base (Zimmermonia being a planet which orbits and rotates around four minutes and is in the same solar system as far planet Zarkon, where Doris Kearns keeps company. He was free to flail away at an obscure week old column by an even more obscure office worker in an effort to expose evil Crumpian corruption of the corps of our press.

    Needless to say, his regular readers, like Dowd's, quickly responded with glee. I could name names of the fawners. What is really important is that they showed up even faster than the 8pm and 9pm arrival time Bob described as being "before long" for the 2 out of 505 Dowd commenters Bob quoted to prove weak minded liberals were flocking back to Mother Dowd's filthy nest.

    The Bobfan world may be very easy and very soft, but they sure as shit are quicker commenters than those Dowdian dumbasses!

    PPP (Call me Emperor Daibazaal, grasper of the Tusk!)

    1. Evidently, you didn't grasp that you were being likened to a Dittohead.

      I'm going to call you Mr. Hanky, the Internet Poo.

    2. Call me anything you like. It is what you do best. Beats refutation or acknowledgement of "wrongful" commentary.

      Daibazaal, grasper of the Tusk

    3. wow ppp, you really are a non-sycophantic somerby scholar. no easy feat given the often meandering, illogical and dishonest nature of the column. good for you.

    4. PPP, as for "likened to a Dittohead" apperently our good friend Cecelia can't quite bring herself to understand that "Crump = Rush" false equivalency is a common game played by Chief Bob for his adoring tribe.

    5. Oh, now the Rush reference is a false equivalency rather than red meat for liberals,

      Mr. Hanky, Grasper of Straws.

    6. Both/and, not either/or, Cecelia.

      I am fully aware that it is a lot easier to think in terms of either/or, good/bad, them us. But unfortunately for the simple-minded, the world is more complex than that.

      Now let me state in clearly, and try hard to follow along, your poor, dear child.

      The Rush reference is BOTH "red meat" pandering AND a false equivalency with Crump.

      Did your poor head just explode?

    7. There isn't that much credulity in the world, Mr. Hanky Poo.

    8. My Dear CeceliaMc, please do not confuse that Anon. with me. My last comment, as all my comments on this thread, will be signed as
      Daibazaal, grasper of the Tusk. He was from the Planet of Doom, ruled by Zarkon, whom Bob mistakenly called a planet earlier today.
      Actually, grasper of the tusk had nothing to do with Doom or Daibazaal. That was an bling men describing the elephant reference from the many, many methaphored mind of our literary blogger friend.

      Again, I have not been commenting any more than you have been correcting the many false statements you made which I previously pointed out to you and Bob's readers in his great RRR (Radio, Riots & Ropers) post.

      Instead I was watching "the great" Chris Hayes eliminate Bob's ability to claim MSNBC had not mentioned the NYT health care series. I know we will hear how bad it was and that more time was devoted to Trump U.

      Daibazaal, grasper of the Tusk

    9. Da the Pooper knows:

      We've got a *fabulous* corporate "liberal" media.

      Somerby should just admit it.

    10. If you can find a positive thing I have said about the "liberal" corporate media, you are quite a magician.

      If you, on the other hand, wish to refute examples I use to demonstrate how Bob Somerby is quite the same as the folks he criticizes in his blog posts, do so.1

      Otherwise I will put you down as a Bobfan tribalist.

      Emperor Daibazaal, grasper of the Tusk!

  8. I'm shocked to discover that the president's salary is doing an even worse job of keeping up with inflation than the minimum wage.

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