22 July 2004
Party dressing

Maureen Dowd makes it into the August Harper's Bazaar with an article titled "Democrats or Republicans: Who Dresses Best?"

I'm not inclined to draw any conclusions myself, but here are some pertinent quotes culled from the Dowd piece. From Stephanie Cutter, director of communications for the Kerry campaign:

With Democrats, you can get some stilettos, some Manolo Blahniks, things that are more Sex and the City. Republicans are more Friends.

I suspect Ann Coulter might disagree. Leon Wieseltier, literary editor of The New Republic, sees it this way:

For liberals, it's socially acceptable to dress like libertines. Republican girls look better in such costumes because deep in their hearts they suspect that the look is a sin, a concession to the grossly oversexed culture that they spend their day jobs lamenting. What enhances their appearance is the eroticism of complicity.

Meanwhile, Robin Givhan, fashion editor of The Washington Post, sees convergence of a sort:

The stereotype has been that Republicans tend to go for the fur and big jewels and more obvious expressions of wealth, while Democrats tend to be less flashy and have a more Midwestern kind of reserve. But I don't think that really applies now that you look at Teresa [Heinz Kerry], the Queen of Chanel, and Laura [Bush], who wears Oscar de la Renta and looks practically nauseous when the subject of her clothes comes up.

Not to say that Mrs Bush is dowdy, as Dowd herself points out:

Laura Bush is a pretty woman who always dresses appropriately. It wouldn't suit her to be too glamorous or clothes obsessed; she's not a "look at me" type. She has an understated wardrobe, a sort of fetching Marian the Librarian look, that has become more stylish as she's gone along.

I'm not sure I understand "as she's gone along" — is the First Lady actually setting fashion trends? — but I can certainly understand the appeal of Marian the Librarian.

As for the pictures, well, they're here, along with my standard brand of half-baked (sometimes quarter-baked) interpretation.

Permalink to this item (posted at 12:27 PM)
18 October 2005
Non-accidental verbosity

Tim Blair, arguably the fastest-driving member of the Pajamas Media (name change pending) Editorial Board, on buying pixels by the barrel:

People wrongly think the benefit of writing online is that you have infinite room to go on, but the true benefit of not being locked into a word count per page is that the writing can be as brief as you can make it. A lot of mainstream journalists could benefit from that. Maureen Dowd, for instance, whose columns I think run to about 850 words, could easily pare her columns down to ten, fifteen or even five words, and that includes the byline.

Assuming two words for the byline, that leaves three words. Were I some sort of quasi-MoDo, I might come up with "I'm so cute!"

Of course, there's always the question of whether my readers might not be better served by a blank page — or by a 404.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:11 PM)
31 October 2005
MoDo with no mojo

Lindsay Beyerstein probably isn't buying Maureen Dowd's new book:

Remind me why anyone should take dating advice from Maureen Dowd. This is the woman who regularly uses her New York Times column for content that belongs in an F4M classified ad. Asking Maureen Dowd for perspective on intimate relationships is like asking Judy Miller for advice on journalistic ethics.

If this catches on, I can give out diet tips. But it's only the beginning:

Dowd thinks she's finally gotten the last laugh on those ugly, slutty, Birkenstock-wearing feminists from college. She and her mom knew all along that the feminists were kidding themselves. It's just a Fact of Nature that men hate self-actualized women. Always have. Always will. (Details are sketchy, but apparently Science has established that it has something to do with dopamine and ev psych.)

I adore self-actualized women. I also expect them to ignore my existence, but this is a different matter entirely.

Dowd's bitter takehome message is that women have to play by The Rules, whether feminism endorses them or not. Otherwise, they'll end up as barren old maids in corner offices. Feminism has confused women, Dowd thinks: The women's libbers convinced us that, at least in the abstract, women ought to be able to enjoy sex, power, and money without alienating men. They gave us the (probably correct) idea that it's degrading to hide your personality in order to manipulate some poor sucker into marriage.

I might suggest that what MoDo needs is an all-encompassing, utterly transcendent, and most of all brief affair, just long enough to get the blues out of her system — but then, it's also been suggested that this is exactly what I need. (And never, I hasten to add, has it been suggested by someone actually volunteering for the unpleasant task.)

It's not often I get to quote from both LB and FWP in a single post, but this Porrettoism seems apt:

The woman who wants to improve her relations with men will first clarify her own appreciation of what she wants, including (of course) what she wants from a man. That and only that will make it possible for her to be honest with men — and to know how to deal with them not as enemies, and not with contempt, but from a position of strength.

You make your template, then you start matching shapes. Not before.

Addendum: Lileks observes: "Just for the record: I am married to a Strong & Successful Woman. I have no problem with Strong Women. On the contrary. But I am less than fascinated by Strong Women who have issues like the Roman sewers had mice."

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:18 AM)
7 November 2005
What's the opposite of "kismet"?

For some reason, I said this about Maureen Dowd last week:

I might suggest that what MoDo needs is an all-encompassing, utterly transcendent, and most of all brief affair, just long enough to get the blues out of her system — but then, it's also been suggested that this is exactly what I need.

Shed those Dowd-y feathers and fly a little bit? Maybe, maybe not. But the mind reels — at least, my mind reels — at the very idea that MoDo and I might have something in common. (And here's the complete reel.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 1:54 PM)
12 November 2005
Now that we're out of Katrina footage

I know, we've spent entirely too much time on the subject of Maureen Dowd.

But said subject does tend to spawn interesting tangents. This Dowd-related item at The Passing Parade generated some comments to the effect that there might be a conspiracy to put another woefully-overexposed female, Jennifer Aniston, on every last farging magazine cover in the nation, if not actually on The Nation itself.

Now quoting me, from April 2003:

To: customerservice@bigmagazinepublisher.com

For some unaccountable reason, this month's subscription copy was fitted with the wrong cover, an error which stood out blatantly. I mean, a magazine that does not have Jennifer Aniston on the cover? What were you thinking?

Either I'm way ahead of the Zeitgeist, or — wait, was that MoDo on the cell phone?

Permalink to this item (posted at 5:02 AM)
13 November 2005
Beyond mere personal ads

A British woman has taken out newspaper ads seeking a boyfriend for her daughter. Applicants should be single, 24 to 30, geographically acceptable, and must produce a 500-word essay detailing their qualifications. The young lady in question is twenty-four, a student, and has a six-year-old son from a previous commitment. Appearance is not a major criterion, though "Brad Pitt lookalikes will not be rejected out of hand".

Meanwhile in Denver (first spotted at Okiedoke), a woman in her late forties is offering a package deal: buy her house, and she comes with it. Asking price is $600k, which doesn't seem out of line for the Washington Park area of Denver, especially given the amount of work she's supposed to have put into it — I pulled up some MLS listings in 80209 and even the smaller bungalows start in the 400s — but, you know, some things are harder to appraise than others. I bounced this premise off a few women of similar age, and they were somewhat suspicious of the entire venture.

I'm inclined to think that Maureen Dowd isn't going to be trying these particular ploys any time soon.

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:10 AM)
14 November 2005
When pundits breed

Keith Rogan writes to Mark Steyn:

Conservative columnists with a sense of humor (like you) are a rare breed. With that thought uppermost in mind, I can't help but wonder what sort of "Uber-Columnist" might be created if Ann Coulter and yourself could be induced to breed?

With nothing more than a candlelit dinner and massive amounts of fertility drugs I can envision a future harvest of leggy, bearded, journalism students that could change the world as we know it, possibly.

Perhaps you could send Ann some roses and a dinner invitation to get the ball rolling, so to speak?

If this seems horrifying, wait until you hear Steyn's reply:

Well, if I glimpse Paul Krugman and Maureen Dowd necking on a park bench, Id certainly be willing to even up the score. Lie back and think of Canada, as Queen Victoria almost said.

This exchange serves two purposes. It enables me to get in my Obligatory Gratuitous Maureen Dowd Reference for the day, and it suggests a question: "Is there any demand for hot pundit-on-pundit action?" Somehow I doubt it; I've turned up only two examples [not safe for work] of Ann Coulter fan fiction, neither of which involves another pundit. Still, that's two more than I've found for Dowd, or for Krugman or Steyn.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:06 AM)
Let no expired equine go unbeaten

And why not?

NEW YORK — Maureen Dowd's Technorati search ranking soared to No. 4 this week as bloggers feverishly posted reviews of her new book, Are Men Necessary?, searched for and read others' reviews, and discussed her irrelevance.

"She's just a well-trained, albeit, clever monkey," wrote Dennis Wright, the writer behind Poliblogger. "Does anyone read her books anymore?" Wright asked in his 18-paragraph review of Dowd's new book. Of Wright's 23 posters, 21 said they had read the book, but didn't think other people would.

"Nobody cares what she thinks," wrote Robert Oakley, responding to Wright on his blog, Rightdude. "I don't care what she thinks. She writes these crappy books and behaves as if we are going to talk about them or even care. I mean, do I seem like I care to you?"

You've already seen my level of indifference.

Permalink to this item (posted at 2:36 PM)
15 November 2005
Your daily Dowd

Thoughts from Lindsay Beyerstein:

No doubt misogyny influenced some people's assessments. The more interesting question is whether the discussion itself is framed by underlying sexist or misogynist assumptions. Are we treating [Maureen] Dowd unfairly because she expresses herself in a stereotypically feminine way? I would argue that Dowd deserves the criticism she's getting, but that there are a lot of equally frivolous men in the media who are allowed to coast on sexism because the public is irrationally predisposed to see their contributions as serious and important.

Some stereotypically feminine characteristics deserve to be criticized, not because they're associated with women, but because they're intrinsically undesirable. [Dowd-like elision here.] If your life prospects depend on your looks, it's only natural to be preoccupied with your personal appearance. If manipulation is the only tool you've got, every job begins to look like an opportunity for feminine guile.

A variation on the hammer/nail thesis. I'm not persuaded that manipulation is the only tool in a woman's belt, so to speak, but when you know something will work, there's a tendency to use it.

It's true that certain attributes are systematically devalued because they are associated with femininity. However, we shouldn't give women a free pass to behave in ways we wouldn't approve of generally. In an ideal world, David Brooks would be dismissed as frivolous and self-absorbed, too.

What? You mean he hasn't been?

Props to Beyerstein for insisting, quite properly, that double standards suck. But I must say a few words on behalf of frivolity. In general, those who turn up their noses at it have failed to grasp an essential concept: life is not supposed to be serious 24/7. And the context doesn't matter all that much, either: gallows humor isn't always tasteful, but it's funny, and under those circumstances, you need all the funny you can get. I suppose I could fault Maureen Dowd for not conforming to the stereotype of the perennially-unamused industrial-strength feminist or for not fully comprehending the Hundred Years' War on Terror, or David Brooks for, um, not thwapping E. J. Dionne upside the head some afternoon on All Things Considered, but what would be the point? No, they're not answering the Ultimate Questions of Life, the Universe, and Everything, but then they're not supposed to. Life is the journey, not the destination; what I want is a travel guide with a sense of humor. Then again, I'm frivolous and self-absorbed. (Ask anyone.) Does this disqualify me for writing for The New York Times? Probably not. (Lack of Official Credentials and an inability to make up stuff on the fly, on the other hand, probably would.)

I leave for someone with greater psychological insights than I — which presumably wouldn't take much — the explanation for why I've spent so much time on Maureen Dowd this month.

Permalink to this item (posted at 11:07 AM)
16 November 2005
Bids for attention

Today's Maureen Dowd commentary, from Sir Cranky:

I read a little more of Maureen Dowd's Are Men Necessary? on the subway and bus. She writes about how male readers frequently email her at the Times, asking her to read stuff they write, or watch them on tv, or hear their lectures. Apparently, female readers rarely do this. There is a su