Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The Crying of Maureen Dowd

When New York Times reporters walked into their offices last night, people were clustering around one office to watch what they thought they would never see: Maureen Dowd with the unmistakable look of tears in her eyes. A woman gazing through the door was grimacing, saying it was bad. Three guys could not stop watching her, drawn to the "humanized" Dowd. One reporter who covers security issues cringed. "We are at war," he said. "Is this how she'll interview Kim Jong-il?" Another reporter joked: "That crying really seemed genuine. I'll bet she spent hours thinking about it beforehand." He added dryly: "Crying doesn't usually work in journalism. Only in relationships."

For years Dowd has been known for her cold, icy, cynical demeanor. Though some friends claim she is actually warm and witty in person, most of her colleagues don't see her as very likable and use another word to describe her that rhymes with "witch." But Hillary Clinton's stunning victory in the New Hampshire primary finally caused Dowd's calculatedly controlled demeanor to crack. While some believed her waterworks were genuine, others speculated that Dowd must have hired an actress to teach her how to cry. Is it unprofessional for journalists to show emotion or could Dowd cry herself to another Pulitzer Prize?

She won the Pulitzer Prize after being embarrassed by a man. She was seen as so controlling that she had to be seen as losing control, as she did while writing about the Monica Lewinsky scandal, which made her soft enough to attract the attention of Pulitzer Prize judges. Bill Clinton's betrayal seemed to have affected her personally, as if she were the wronged woman. Pulitzer judges felt so sorry for her that they gave her the prize. Few believed it had anything to do with her intelligence or talent.

For years Dowd has wanted to show that she is more than just a Clinton hater. She tried her hand at being a Bush hater, reducing everything the Bushes did to the same kind of pat psychological paradigms she used to describe the Clintons. But though she wrote an entire book and innumerable columns describing everything Bush fils did as evidence of an Oedipal struggle with Bush père, her heart just didn't seem to be in it. And the prospect of Hillary getting the nomination reduced her to panic that she would never be anything more than a Clinton hater. A second Pulitzer Prize was beginning to look more and more distant.

But then the prospect that Hillary might lose the nomination gave her cause for hope. An Obama victory meant that she could recycle clichés about race just as she had long recycled clichés about feminism. Pulitzer Prize judges love rehashed ideas about race. There was something liberating in being an Obama Girl, until Obama, too, betrayed her and then she could turn on him along with the rest of the media and ride the Obama backlash to a second Pulitzer. Lately, she had begun to dress differently around the office, showing more cleavage, but not so much to endanger her status as a serious journalist.

So there was a poignancy about seeing Dowd crack with exhaustion from decades of hating the Clintons so much. But there was a whiff of Nixonian self-pity about her choking up. "I just don't want to see us fall backwards into the Clinton era," she said tremulously. In a weirdly narcissistic way, she was crying for us.

A cynical person might say that it was not really Dowd's concern about the fate of our country that brought on her tears, that she was weeping at the prospect of falling back into the Clinton era herself, of having to write the same cynical columns over and over again, as if she believed elections are really about her. But Dowd was not just crying for herself. She was crying for all of the pundits and journalists and bloggers who worry that another Clinton Administration will turn us into Clinton-hating hacks. She was crying for all of us who remember how the peace and prosperity of the Clinton era led directly into the war and economic downturn of the Bush years, something we don't want to happen again. She feels our pain. Try as we might to put a cynical spin on everything Hillary does, despite all of our attempts to pronounce Hillary's candidacy dead on arrival, despite all the polls we quote that show Hillary can't win, it is possible that voters have another idea.

So cry, Dowd, cry. Cry for Chris Matthews who can only weakly protest that he is not obsessed with Hillary. Cry for Dick Morris who faces the prospect of years and years of predictions that never come true. Cry for David Broder who will be nervously counting the silverware at the thought of the Clintons coming back to trash his place again. Cry for Ann Althouse who will soon run out of Freudian food metaphors to bash Hillary with. Cry for all of the pundits, pollsters and prognosticators who have been proven wrong once again, though not so wrong that they will lose their jobs. Cry for all of us, Maureen Dowd. Bury that rag deep in your face. Now is the time for your tears.

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Anonymous said...


Julia said...

I heart you, as the General says, in a manly way.

Just saying.

Anonymous said...

This is brilliant.

Anonymous said...

Now do Chris Matthews.

Will said...

Ingenious. Absolutely ingenious.

I swear Dowd was a Clinton clone back in the hippie days, only the DNA got screwed up somewhere.

At least I respect Paul Krugman for his groundbreaking economic works on trade. I would respect him more if he focused on economics a little more and a little less on how much he hates republicans (a lot). But Dowd.... there's just not a lot to love.

Anonymous said...

This post is full of awesome.

Anonymous said...

My god, Dowd should be deeply ashamed.

It's as if she (and Althouse, btw) realized that they'll never be Cinderella, so they might as well be the Evil Stepmother instead.

Susan of Texas

Unknown said...

What would this country be without you, Jon? I cringe to think.

Anonymous said...

But don't let my glad expression
Give you the wrong impression
Cause really I'm sad, oh I'm sadder than sad
Well I'm hurt and I hate her so bad
Like a clown I appear to be glad ooh yeah

Well they're some sad things known to man
But ain't too much sadder than
The tears of a clown when there's no one around
Oh yeah, baby baby, oh yeah baby baby

Anonymous said...

I seem to recall some photographs of Fearless Leader Bush with a tear or two in his eye. Yet, I don't recall any articles expressing concern over his ability to negotiate with Kim Jong Il after such an unmanly display of emotion. Interesting, isn't it?

KcM said...

Well, points for the Hattie Carroll reference. Otherwise, a bit of a reach.

Mo MoDo said...

This is an amazingly good parody with a lot of great links. I'm going to bookmark it and quote it on my blog later this week. I have to take issue with "She won the Pulitzer Prize after being embarrassed by a man." If you mean Clinton, it was he that was embarrassed by her. Without Dowd's relentless naked emperor spotting, Clinton might have continued parading around in his new clothes. His behavior was shameless and I'm glad that there is someone out there willing to call him on it.

PALGOLAK said...

I don't enjoy pointing this out, but this post is very, very similar to the Dowd article linked to in the post itself.

This is a very good example of sloppy, lazy plagiarism. Note to JS: when plagiarising someone, do not include a direct link to the plagiarised article.

That way, if someone calls you on it, you would be able to claim, at least, that you had never seen the article in question.

Dan Leo said...

You make me chuckle, you nut.

Now I'm gonna drag out my scratched old vinyl of "The Times They Are A-Changin'".

Anonymous said...

"I seem to recall some photographs of Fearless Leader Bush with a tear or two in his eye."

I remember that. That was when his hidden earphone backback receiver shorted out at one of the 2004 debates. It runs off a car battery and it would make anyone's eyes water. I seem to remember that he covered it well with that Elvis impression of that hunka hunka burning love thing and that little dance he did. Not that any of his minions noticed.

Anonymous said...

I gotta cries me a rivers about dat.

What would we do without Dowdy Doody time, kids?

Anonymous said...

Dag, screwed up dat rivers hyperlink.

I guess I picked a bad day to quit estrogen shots.

Anonymous said...

This post would be funny if only Dowd wasn't so amazingly cuntacular. As it is, we're left with the bitter realization that satire is more real than reality, and truly pathetic people who burn with petty jealousies have way, way better jobs than any of us.

SM said...

I've been checking here every hour or so since the tears as I knew this had to be here. I thank you.

bitchphd said...

You know, for a man, you're not half bad.

Ray Bridges said...

No really, do Chris Matthews now. I watched him last night and I thought he was going to choke on his rage. He parodies himself.

Well said, Dr. Swift, well said, sir.

Johnny Pez said...

You know, for a man, you're not half bad.

Remember the Digby Lesson: never make assumptions about the sex of a Pseudonym-American.

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

Amazing Jon. You've taken Maureen's words,cut it up, sprayed salt on the open wounds, then fed it back until she probably choked. Yet the reference is to another, whose tag rhymes with "witch". Wonderful! Bravo Jon. --Durano, done!

Anonymous said...

I don't know how you do it. I just don't. How can you keep getting better? I mean you've already left perfection in the dust. I dare say you're even past hyperbole. What's next? How is this possible? Is it a Dorian Gray kinda thingy?

I really want to say, "This is the best post you've ever written." But, what do I say next time? I mean, I can't just keep saying that... Where does it end?

James Higham said...

If the Lizard Queen gets anywhere near the White Housea second time, Heaven help the Planet Earth. If she can't stop blowjobs, how can she stop world war?

FortunaLee said...


You do know how to start off the year.

jjv said...

Its pretty bold too take the name Jon Swift when your style is more Al Franken. You should try writing in the Dowdian cadence. Your reflexive Democratic partisanship takes a lot of the sting out of these things.

bitchphd said...

Remember the Digby Lesson: never make assumptions about the sex of a Pseudonym-American.

I *am* a Pseudonym-American. I think you mean not to make assumptions about the sex of the author; Jon Swift, however, was assuredly a man, wig notwithstanding.

liquiddaddy said...


They breakdown just like a woman, and they cry just like little girls. It is to be expected.

I heard Ms. Dowd baked some cookies and put them in the break room at NYT. They are for everybody.

Unfortunately, things have been rocky lately. It was reported, but not confirmed, that she got drunk and strolled into NH Obama headquarters with rudely taped car flares on her body, crying inconsolably that "she and daddy had a bad break-up."

The fact of the matter is, the American public shouldn't be expected to entrust important tasks to the weaker sex. Just ask Judith Miller.


Anonymous said...

"Jesus Wept."

"What a *ussy." - commenter on Pharisees TV

Anonymous said...

Palgolak, it's called "parody." And it's brilliant.

Anonymous said...

It's so beautiful even my breasts are crying

Anonymous said...

PALGOLAK said...
" I don't enjoy pointing this out, but this post is very, very similar to the Dowd article linked to in the post itself.

This is a very good example of sloppy, lazy plagiarism. "

Seems obvious doesn't it. Unless you are like "nan" and various others here who think that Pee Wee Herman style rejoinders drawn out at blog length are "brilliant".

Rob Wolfe said...

Whenever I come here I am struck by a couple of things...

1) Jon Swift is a talented writer
2) Parody/Satire is hard
3) Far too many folks do not understand the meaning of the words Parody and Satire.

Chuck Butcher said...

It is a good thing I have little talent for parody or satire, since I'd try it and be jealous.

BTW, "Best of..." seems to be the gift that keeps giving, even at this late date

PALGOLAK said...

Nan and Anonymous, I don't care about your creches, nor your fireside gatherings.

What gets my goat, so to say, is all this worpshipful adoration for a posting that sucked.

JS is fully capable of funny, apropos writing. It seems like he copied MD's content, pasted it changed a few words.

No great victory, as I see it.

Unknown said...

Sorry, it's hard to type when the moisture welling up doesn't allow me to see, but your writing just, well, humanizes me.

This was a thing of beauty and, of course, joy for some time. For some reason it had not occurred to me that Dowd had written so perfect a self-description. I hope a few thousand people have forwarded her this piece.

Bob's Blog said...

Brilliant satire. I was not familiar with Dowd's writing before W. She is definitely a snarky one.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr Swift

Thank you yet again for your enlightening comments.

I actually read this Dowd column in the Sydney Morning Herald, and immediately cancelled my subscription - well actually that's not true, all their internet content is free. But if I had a subscription, I would have cancelled it.

Apart fom my outrage at reading recycled gibberish, my main reaction was " is this woman mad?" Derangement is the expression that comes to mind.

However, on reading your column an alternative comes to mind - was the original Dowd column a parody? Do " serious" journalists parody themselves? If so, can you parody or even satirise a parody? What genre are we in now?

A Disinterested Observer

Anonymous said...

Bury that rag deep in your face. Now is the time for your tears.

Don't cry for me, Wingnutopia!

Paige said...

Dowd writes some of the most consistently witty and politically insightful OpEds out there. Her opinions are at times controversial--but sometimes it takes an intelligent contrarian to point out the truth.

Let's leave out the personal attacks and focus on her intellect.

Rob Wolfe said...

Dowd writes some of the most consistently witty and politically insightful OpEds out there. Her opinions are at times controversial--but sometimes it takes an intelligent contrarian to point out the truth.

Let's leave out the personal attacks and focus on her intellect.

Maureen, is that you?.

Seriously though. Do you really think that she is witty and insightful?

She is one of the shallowest examples of punditry out there at the moment. I honestly cannot imagine you think she is some sort of towering intellect.

Paige said...

No, not Maureen.

Just a liberal who is actually willing to listen to some opinions from the other side.

Which is more than I can say for Jon Swift and his FoxNewsopia.

Al_from_Florida said...

" Since the media is biased I get all my news from Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and Jay Leno monologues."

HA what a joke, FOX news not biased? You've got to be kidding!

Anonymous said...

Because you get your news from FUROR Limbaugh I suspect everything you say along with everyone who agrees with you!

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