Fighting Words

The Absurdity of Maureen Dowd

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Maureen Dowd took to her New York Times column Saturday to instruct President Barack Obama on governing, since he has clearly failed so far, taking specific umbrage with the president's strategy on gun-control legislation.

"How is it that the president won the argument on gun safety with the public and lost with the Senate? It's because he doesn't know how to work the system. And it's clear now that he doesn't want to learn, or to even hire some clever people who can tell him how to do it or do it for him. It's unbelievable that with 90 percent of Americans on his side, he could get only 54 votes in the Senate. It was a glaring example of his weakness in using leverage to get what he wants. No one on Capitol Hill is scared of him."

The American Interest magazine's Walter Russell Mead countered Dowd's nonsense best by first pointing out that she doesn't understand American politics, or how votes are won or lost. He then moves on to her inability to comprehend the powers held by presidents, and finally pointed out that she, quite clearly, isn't omnipotent and therefore can't feign to know how politicians think. 

Mead writes:

"Column writing is dangerous work, and long success in the game can lead to the stifling of that Editor Within who keeps you from looking too stupid in print. A rich self-esteem, fortified by decades of op-ed tenure and dinner-party table talk dominance, has apparently given Ms. Dowd the confidence to believe that she is a maestro of political infighting, a Clausewitz of strategic insight and a Machiavelli of political cunning rolled up into one stylish and elegant piece of work. From the heights of insight on which she dwells, it is easy to see what that poor schmuck Barry Obama can't: Those 60 votes on gun control were his for the taking, if he were only as shrewd a politician as Maureen Dowd."

Guys, that's a beautiful paragraph. Here's another gem from Dowd that tends toward the absurd.

"Sometimes you must leave the high road and fetch your brass knuckles. Obama should have called Senator Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota over to the Oval Office and put on the squeeze: 'Heidi, you're brand-new and you're going to have a long career. You work with us, we'll work with you. Public opinion is moving fast on this issue. The reason you get a six-year term is so you can have the guts to make tough votes. This is a totally defensible bill back home. It's about background checks, nothing to do with access to guns. Heidi, you're a mother. Think of those little kids dying in schoolrooms."

As Ann Althouse, professor at University of Wisconsin Law School, said here, a president telling a "powerful female politician, ''Heidi, you're a mother,'" would be "incredibly patronizing." Like the president would ever say to a male politician, "Rick, you're a father."

This really just takes us back around to the truth of what Mead wrote, which is, in essence, it's Maureen Dowd who just doesn't get it.

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