OK, it’s official. Maureen Dowd is the worst New York Times op-ed columnist of the 2008 election year. Folks, that’s a big accomplishment because, as you all know, she had some pretty stiff competition from the likes of Frank Rich, Bob Herbert, and Nicholas Kristof. So, without further delay, please allow me to explain exactly what Maureen Dowd did to merit her award.
First of all, Maureen Dowd wrote a column yesterday that was literally about how white people and black people are talking for the first time in DC, because Barack Obama won—and she even mentioned how she asked her black mailman if he was excited because of Obama’s victory (I’m not making this up). Now, I don’t know about Ms. Dowd and her friends, but I’ve been talking to African-Americans my entire life, and would have continued to do so with or without an Obama win.
Now, in last Wednesday’s column, the day after Obama’s victory, Ms. Dowd wrote a column stating that Hillary Clinton showed “covert racism” by telling the superdelegates that “He can’t win”, with regard to Obama. That’s funny--I thought that every politician in any sort of primary (Republican or Democratic) would argue to the voters and superdelegates that “I can win and my opponent can’t”. Before the financial crisis, I thought that Obama couldn’t win because of his inexperience and his shady connections. Does that make me a racist? I guess it does according to Maureen Dowd. Furthermore, I remember Obama telling voters during the Democratic primary that he could beat John McCain and Hillary couldn’t. Does that make Obama a sexist? Oh, but the best part (and by best, I mean worst) of her column was when Ms. Dowd stated that many general election voters had shown overt racism by telling The New York Times that (and I quote her directly), “President Obama would turn the rose garden into a watermelon patch, that he’d have barbecues on the front lawn, and that he’d make the White House the Black House" (again, I am not kidding). Now, of course, Ms. Dowd provided absolutely no links, or even direct quotes from any specific voters for that matter--she just carelessly threw out these horrific accusations. On a side note, what’s really funny, is that the only person that I remember ever talking about the White House becoming the Black House was rapper and Obama supporter Ludacris, but I digress.
However, the column that clinched the award (of worst New York Times columnist) for Maureen Dowd was actually one written back on August the third titled, “Mr. Darcy Comes Courting”. In this particular column, Ms. Dowd first states that the reason why working class women, who voted for Hillary, weren't going for Obama is because he is “too cool” and that “they prefer mac and cheese” (again, I am not making this up). Then, Ms. Dowd goes on to compare Barack Obama to Mr. Darcy, a character from the great Jane Austen novel “Pride and Prejudice”, who is known for his haughtiness. She further asks if Obama can “overcome his pride” and if “America can overcome its prejudice and elect the first black president”.
What these columns demonstrate is that Maureen Dowd is absolutely obsessed with race. I mean, she must look under her bed every night before she goes to sleep in order to make sure that the racist boogie man doesn’t come get her. Most importantly, though, what’s so incredibly pathetic is Maureen Dowd’s view of her fellow Americans, and of America itself. Ms. Dowd obviously thinks that most Americans that don’t run in her Manhattan/D.C. cocktail party circuit are racist, low class, mac and cheese eaters.
By the way, Maureen Dowd is not alone in her low opinion of American voters. I recently wrote a diary about how Bob Herbert falsely accused both Hillary Clinton and John McCain of running “southern strategies” (and thus implying that their supporters were racists), and I also recently wrote a diary about how Nicholas Kristof falsely accused Republicans (and Redstate in particular) of trying to “otherize” Obama in order to appeal to racist voters. Oh, and Frank Rich wrote an outrageous column back in October where he accused the McCain campaign of “playing the race card” and of “inciting vigilantism” simply because they brought up Obama's connections to Bill Ayers and Franklin Raines (the former CEO of Fannie Mae). Falsely accusing candidates, as well as voters, of racism is beginning to become a real nasty habit over at the New York Times editorial page, but I digress.
Now, another point that I think needs to be made with regard to Ms. Dowd’s ridiculous column comparing Barack Obama to Mr. Darcy, is that Barack Obama is NOTHING at all like Mr. Darcy. First of all, yes, Mr. Darcy is indeed handsome and arrogant (like Obama), but he is also extremely serious, uncharismatic, solemn, and, dare I say, somewhat morose--Barack Obama is none of these things. Don’t get me wrong, Mr. Darcy is one of the great literary figures of all time; however, if I were a politician, I would not want to emulate him. (Note to future politicians—if pundits are comparing you to Mr. Darcy, it probably means that you are unelectable and that you are going to lose). Not to mention, Mr. Darcy would probably have absolutely no use for Barack Obama’s hopey-changey rhetoric—he would find it extremely silly.
Moreover, even the title of Ms. Dowd’s column, “Mr. Darcy Comes Courting”, is all wrong. Mr. Darcy doesn’t intentionally court anyone—he thinks it’s beneath him. When the heroine of “Pride and Prejudice”, Elizabeth Bennet (played superbly by Keira Knightly in the movie), first meets Mr. Darcy she can’t stand him. I also think that it’s important to note that when Mr. Darcy finally gets up the nerve to tell Ms. Bennet that he loves her, he literally tells her that, “You’ve bewitched me”—this conveys to me that Mr. Darcy wasn’t looking for love (i.e., he wasn’t purposefully “courting” Ms. Bennet).
So why is understanding the intricacies of Mr. Darcy’s personality important? Because if one understands who Mr. Darcy is, then one could reasonably conclude that Maureen Dowd hasn’t even read the book or seen the movie—she is just a pretentious hack who wants to be seen as quoting the right books or Oscar nominated pictures, and supporting the trendy candidate in order to impress her vacuous circle of friends (Jane Austen frequently wrote of her type). However, the other hypothesis could be that Ms. Dowd did indeed read the book, but she still has absolutely no understanding of who the characters really are.
Now, reflecting on Maureen Dowd’s God-awful writing has had one good side-effect in that it has made me think about what Jane Austen characters both Barack Obama and John McCain really resemble (please allow me to go off on a tangent here). Redstate poster Lizzie has stated (in the comments in my diary about Bob Herbert) that John McCain reminds her of Colonel Brandon (beautifully played by Alan Rickman in the movie), the under-appreciated but honorable soldier in another Jane Austen novel titled, “Sense and Sensibility”. I tend to agree. Furthermore, Barack Obama actually reminds me of Mr. Willoughby, the handsome, charismatic, narcissistic snake-oil salesman, in that same novel. Sure, Mr. Willoughby is charming with his spiffy equestrian boots, his cool sideburns, his flashy yellow carriage, and his pocket sized copy of Shakespeare’s sonnets that he carries around (if Mr. Willoughby were alive today, instead of quoting Shakespeare he would say “Yes we can”, but I digress), but you just know that he’s going to break poor Marianne’s heart (played superbly by Kate Winslet). And, when Mr. Willoughby does smash Marianne’s heart to smithereens and she’s left babbling in the rain like an idiot and collapses with a fever, it’s good old dependable Colonel Brandon that shows up to rescue her.
(Below are two youtube videos. The first video shows scenes from “Sense and Sensibility”—Mr. Willoughby is shown at the beginning of the video, and Colonel Brandon is shown toward the end. The second video shows scenes from both “Sense and Sensibility” and “Pride and Prejudice” set to country music (I know, it sounds cheesy, but it’s awesome). Mr. Darcy (from “Pride and Prejudice”) is the solemn looking fellow shown dancing with Keira Knightly. I embedded both videos so that I wouldn’t be making some vague literary references to people who haven’t read the books or seen the movies. I think that these videos will give you a good idea of who these characters actually are.)
Anyway, for me, watching this election was a lot like watching “Sense and Sensibility”. Just like I knew that Mr. Willoughby was going to break Marianne’s heart, I know that Barack Obama is eventually going to break the county’s heart, because they have fallen in love with a man that they don’t really know all that well. I also know that in the end, it will be up to men, like John McCain, to pull us out of the rain by stopping Obama from spending obscene amounts of money, implementing huge tax hikes on businesses during a recession, and pulling the troops immediately out of Iraq--which could risk igniting a regional war.
Reflecting on Maureen Dowd’s race-obsessed rants has also made me realize one other thing—that men like Colonel Brandon usually don’t win elections. Yes, I agree with Byron York in his excellent column when he stated that, “What sank McCain’s presidential bid was a set of the worst conditions to face any candidate in decades, in combination with an opponent who was not only a better campaigner, but also a favorite of the nation’s media establishment”. Not to mention, The Washington Post even admitted that they indeed had a pro-Obama bias (the hell you say!). And, I agree with Charles Krauthammer in his interesting op-ed when he gives the autopsy of McCain’s campaign as follows—“The patient was fatally stricken on September 15th—caught in the middle when the roof fell in (at Lehman Brothers, according to the police report)—although he did linger until his final rather quiet demise on November 4th”. I also agreed with our own Civil Truth in his excellent diary when he said that Hank Paulson might have cost McCain the election. And finally, I agree with Mark McKinnon when he explains in his well-written column that only 9% of the voters thought that the country was on the right track; therefore, it’s kind of remarkable that McCain was able to garner 46% of the vote—especially after the financial crisis hit so close to the election (which Brit Hume said was the “perfect way to blow up the McCain campaign”). However, I must add that men like Colonel Brandon (and John McCain) have a tough time winning elections against men like Mr. Willoughby. Mr. Willoughby is shiny, charismatic, uses pretty words, and is great in a thirty second sound bite. Colonel Brandon is honorable and dependable, but boring to the MTV/Facebook crowd and to the media. In the book, Mr. Willoughby was revealed as a snake-oil salesman just in time, and Colonel Brandon got the girl (or in our case, won the election). But alas my friends---reality rarely works out like it does in the books or the movies. Furthermore, I’d be willing to bet that, even 200 years ago, if Colonel Brandon ran in a hypothetical election against Mr. Willoughby, that Mr. Willoughby would probably win.
So, what now? Well, I have no regrets about supporting John McCain. He fought hard for us against insurmountable odds, just like he did as a POW in Vietnam. Did he make some mistakes? Sure he did (suspending his campaign, some might say not going after Wright, not focusing soon enough on his economic message). However, Obama made his share of mistakes as well (“Above my pay grade”, the Berlin trip, the O’possum seal, playing the race card, Joe Biden instead of Hillary, “Spread the wealth around”). But, as Byron York pointed out in his column, the difference is that, due to the political circumstances, McCain had absolutely no room for error, but Obama did.
Furthermore, John McCain made me especially proud that I supported him when he stood up for his supporters when CNN’s Dana Bash, in an interview, tried to imply that his supporters were all somehow racist, because a confused older woman referred to Obama as an “Arab” at a rally (see video below). McCain gave the exact same Brandon-esque answer to Bob Schieffer during the debate. (It was really nice to hear someone refer to me as a “patriotic American” after people, like Maureen Dowd, had been referring to me for the last year as a “racist mac and cheese eater” just because I thought that Obama was unqualified to be president). Oh, and Obama gave a very Willoughby-esque answer in that same debate when he stated that McCain supporters said “kill him" at a rally, knowing full well that the rumor had been debunked by the secret service, but I digress.
So, in conclusion, yes, I confess to being a tad bit down that McCain lost the election (even though I admit to being mildly amused by reading Maureen Dowd’s hilariously bizarre columns). However, like our own Gamecock wisely said, “We only have one commander in chief”. I wish President-elect Obama the best—even if I didn’t support him. And, like our own c17wife said in her beautiful diary, “Duty is ours, outcomes belong to God”. I have done my duty by voting for who I think was the best man to be president of the United States. Again, I have no regrets. Tonight, I will drink a glass of wine and I will watch “Pride and Prejudice” and “Sense and Sensibility”. I will relax. I will exhale. I will watch beautiful actors in fabulous hats (I’m all about the hats). And, I will have my happy ending—even if it’s only in the movies.
This diary was cross-posted on The Minority Report.