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Dowdy Doody: Columnist puts on a puppet show

by: daniel clark | published: 09 22, 2009

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If you're wondering where New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd's extra sensory perception comes from, it just might run in her family. Decades ago, Ellwood P. Dowd believed he spoke to a giant, invisible rabbit named Harvey. Now, Maureen hears words from Congressman Joseph Wilson that she admits he never said, but professes to believe he did anyway.

There are two important differences, though, one being that in the end, Ellwood's companion Harvey actually existed. The same cannot be said of the rhetorical sock puppet Maureen refers to as "Joe Wilson." The other is that Ellwood and his furry friend were good-natured to a fault, even toward those who were openly hostile to them. Maureen's imagination, on the other hand, acts with extreme malice toward those who mean her no harm, but simply disagree with her politics.

In response to the South Carolina Republican's "you lie" outburst during President Obama's address, Dowd wrote, "fair or not, what I heard was an unspoken word in the air: You lie, boy!" She later added, "Wilson clearly did not like being lectured and even rebuked by the brainy black president presiding over the majestic chamber." Clearly, that is, if you heard him say the word that he didn't say.

Under most circumstances, liberals pose as the arbiters of "fairness." That subjectively defined criterion has been the basis for many of their policies, from wealth redistribution to affirmative action, to the "affordable housing" initiatives that caused the subprime mortgage crash. When it comes to a chance to slime one of their political adversaries, however, it is the "fair or not" standard that applies.

So Wilson didn't say "boy," but Dowd attributes it to him anyway, and only fleetingly entertains the thought that her treatment of him might not be fair. No wonder she leaps so eagerly to defend President Obama. The way he declared the officers who arrested Henry Louis Gates to be "stupid," immediately after admitting his own ignorance on the subject, she must consider him to be a kindred spirit.

As for Dowd's other motives, she made those abundantly clear when she wrote, "Take that, infidel swine. Allah Akbar!" Okay, so technically, she didn't write those words in her column, but I can read between the lines, whether there are actually any words there or not. Take, for example, the way that her arrogance shows through at the end of her column. I swear you can hear her say, "There's another one for the time capsule. See what a brilliant mind and a few pints of vermouth can do?"

In the picture of Dowd that appears next to her column, you could just see her saying, "I'm feeling a mite peckish today. I wonder if there are any of those kittens left." Actually, she said it with her eyes, or maybe with her nostrils, but I definitely heard it. What a blunder it was for her to let that slip. Then again, if she were at all discreet, she would never have said, without speaking, "I sure hope the IRS doesn't notice that I haven't filed an income tax return in 25 years."

Last time she was on Meet the Press, the following unspoken words could be heard in the air: "Oooh, that Kim Jong Il. What a stud!" It wasn't so much that she didn't say it, though; it was more in the way she didn't say it.

By browsing the archives of Dowd's column, I was able to tap into a vast reservoir of her unwritten words, such as these:

"Why does this wig have to itch so much?"

"If I DVR Hannah Montana, will that go on my permanent record?"

"What would Joe Stalin do in a situation like this?"

"That's the last time I buy my handcuffs on eBay."

"What do you know? This glue can be used for assembling models,too."

"That's 20 olives in my mouth at once -- a new record!"

"And we know what happens to mailmen who are naughty, don't we?"

"Marge Schott was right."

"That wench Suzanne Somers said that this contraption would work."

"I'd better get those human heads out of the refrigerator before they decompose."

If you want to get really technical about it, Dowd did not in fact write or say any of these things. Nevertheless, I feel that she implied them. Like Joseph Wilson's fictitious "boy" remark, these embellishments may not be fair, but then, who said life was fair? Certainly not Maureen Dowd. Not out loud, anyway.

-- Daniel Clark is a Staff Writer for the New Media Alliance. The New Media Alliance is a non-profit (501c3) national coalition of writers, journalists and grass-roots media outlets.

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Daniel Clark is a writer from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. While earning an M.A. in English at Indiana University of Pennsylvania in the mid-90s, he had weekly opinion and sports columns published in the independent student newspaper. In 1999, he created a web publication called The Shinbone: The Frontier of the Free Press, for which he has written on a wide array of topics, but with a particular emphasis on the need to return to a literal interpretation of the Constitution. He is now a Staff Writer for the New Media Alliance, a non-profit (501c3) national coalition of writers, journalists and grass-roots media outlets.



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