Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Maureen Dowd Doesn't Know What She Is Talking About

There was a time when political reporters confined themselves to reporting what it was that candidates for public office, and office holders, said and did. They reported the facts connected with these people. That started to change with the publication of Making of the President 1960 by Theodore White. White won acclaim and commercial success by focusing on the process of electing a president, something that relatively few Americans had ever read about or studied. Following White's success, more and more writers began to focus on the process of politics and not the substance of politics.

In White's book, he focused on what the candidates did or said, but he reported what they said or did in the area of the process of securing the presidency. What came next, though, was political writers who attempt to report on the inner motives of presidential candidates.

Maureen Dowd is a very well known practioner of this form of politics. She writes about people she has seldom met or spent any amount of time with and who she doesn't make any claim to personally know. In short, she makes shit up.

Now, I doubt that she or her editors would put it that inelegantly. My guess is that she would claim that her musings on the inner lives of political figures such as the Clintons is based on the evidence she has from news reports of their actions and words. That argument, of course, brings up this question: what training does she have to draw the conclusions she draws?

Look at some of the claims she makes in a column dated February 6, 2008:

His visceral reaction to Obama — from the “fairy tale” line to the inappropriate Jesse Jackson comparison — is rooted less in his need to see his wife elected than in his need to see Obama lose, so that Bill’s legacy is protected. If Obama wins, he’ll be seen as the closest thing to J. F. K. since J. F. K. And J. F. K. is Bill’s hero.

I think Hillary truly believes that she and Bill are the only ones tough enough to get to the White House. Jack Nicholson endorsed her as “the best man for the job,” and she told David Letterman that “in my White House, we’ll know who wears the pantsuits.” But her pitch is the color of pitch: Because she has absorbed all the hate and body blows from nasty Republicans over the years, she is the best person to absorb more hate and body blows from nasty Republicans.

How in the world can she possibly know what Hillary and Bill Clinton think about anything? She doesn't claim to know them, she isn't a friend who spends time with them, and she doesn't even claim, as a biographer would, that she knows people who know them.

Now, she has a great job. She gets to ponificate about things she doesn't know a thing about, and, since she is writing about public figures, and offering her uninformed opiniions to boot, she has no worries about civil liability. Not bad work if you can get it.

1 comment:

Village Green said...

I have been avoiding Dowd's column's for years now, and on those rare occasions that I do read her, I find I need a vomit bag handy. She is nasty, deliberately so. Don't know why anybody reads her, let alone publishes her.