From Maureen Dowd today:
And when historians trace how her inevitability dissolved, they will surely note this paradox: The first serious female candidate for president was rejected by voters drawn to the more feminine management style of her male rival.
When historians look back at what American pundits were saying during the 2008 presidential campaign, they will surely note this paradox: the American electorate generally cared about material issues even if many got caught up in the smoke-and-mirrors the candidates present, but their pundit class sat around obsessed about the machismo of politicians more than policy, shutting down their brains, drooling, then running to their notebooks when inspired to pound away at their keyboards adolescently about who they think has the bigger penis.
It's a general sickness that we're having to suffer through, starving not for fair political commentary, definitely not for balanced political commentary, or even for insightful political commentary, but at least something that you can read and think, hey, I learned something just now that I didn't know before. (I ought to be more specific; that "something" isn't "Sexism is so rampant that we can't discuss politics coherently.")
Today's column is all about Barack the Feminine and Hillary the Masculine, because if people don't fit into neat little gender boxes (we'll get to those in a minute, Dowd's are particularly stupid), they're unfit for leadership. Bob Somberby provides a good synopsis of Dowd up to early February:
Let's start, once again, with her sick, endless need to "feminize" Barack Obama.
Not that there's anything new about this. It has now been almost nine years since Dowd told the world that "Al Gore is so feminized...he's practically lactating." (That was June 16, 1999--the day of Gore's formal announcement.) It has been almost five years since she helped dub John Edwards "the Breck Girl." (June 8, 2003. After that, she called him "the Breck Girl" in five other columns.) It has been almost a year since she wrote a column headlined, "Obama, Legally Blonde?" (February 14, 2007. One week later, he was "Scarlett O'Hara.") And of course, she has kicked the stuffing out of endless Dem wives, for the nastiest, stupidest reasons you could conjure. In Dowd's world, Major Dem Men are constantly girls--and Major Dem Women are most often men. Michelle Obama is a she-bitch, of course, a key point Dowd first made just last year.
But let's get into this Sunday's column, shall we?
Basically, Obama's campaign is more feminine because:
- he's talked about starting a conversation (um, so has Hillary, but that messes up Dowd's narrative, so we won't mention it),
- he's more anti-war (because killing people for oil half a world away is the best way to express masculinity),
- Hillary's been on the attack more (because real women are just meant to be seen and not heard, and they should never criticize men lest they hurt our fragile egos), and
- Obama's has more campaign cash to spend.
Jeez, people, every male politician should know that to be properly masculine they have to make the electorate feel like shit, they have to be blood-thirsty, they have to run a negative campaign, and they have to blow their cash so early they need to loan themselves money. Doesn't everyone just intuitively get gender like Dowd does?
What really puzzles me is the fourth one on that list. Here's Dowd:
Among her other cascading woes, it turns out that Hillary is not able to manage her political family's money. Like a prudent housekeeper, Obama spent the cash he raised -- including from his continuing relationships with small donors -- far more shrewdly, on ads rather than on himself.
Wait, I thought the sexist 1950's stereotype was that women were worse with money than men? I didn't know that that idiocy had already changed!
But then I have to realize that it's Dowd's world, and Obama's feminine, whether he likes it or not, and it doesn't matter what the evidence is, how people generally interpret it, or if anyone cares about this stupidity, Dowd is going to portray Obama as feminine and that's that.
And Hillary's masculine, whether she likes it or not. Proving that she's keeping up, Dowd, in a column published the week before Ohio and Texas, actually devotes two paragraphs to Hillary's emotional moment in New Hampshire:
The press hailed the moment as heartfelt, but it was simply Hillary's calculated attempt to woo women and protect her future in the party -- by seeming more collegial. She's furious that the Chicago kid got in the picture.
Her "My sister, my daughter" flip from muscular to tremulous left everyone confused. Many characterized her emulation of empathy as elegiac and submissive.
Well, there you have it, folks! Hillary's emotional moment in NH was calculated! Dowd, with her Telepathic Powers of Creating a Convenient Narrative, has found the answer to a question no one cares about anymore!
(And I love that "Many characterized" in the last sentence of the second paragraph. I'd die of shock if that "Many" included anyone but Dowd and her fellow pundits.)
OK, that's enough of this column. I'm writing about this not because there was a sexist column in today's New York Times, it's that the problem is a whole lot bigger than this. It isn't just Chris Matthews sitting around nattering away about how masculine John McCain is and how Hillary Clinton's career success had nothing to do with her pretty little head, it's about very well-paid pundits using their position of power to tell the American people what masculinity is and that any politician worth her salt is going to have it, is going to be a male while having it, and that whatever details this masculinity is about, it's largely about expanding empire, starting wars, redirecting wealth upwards, and trampling on the People to create an autocratic regime.
In other words, Bush is the epitome of masculinity and everyone should aspire to be like him. Because that's done so much good.
And all the while they look like idiots bending the rules of logic and evidence to support their message. Somberly sums up well what those historians will be thinking about Dowd:
If humans civilization continues to develop, future generations will look back on such work with unease, as we look back on medieval medicine. What might it say about us, they will ask, that our ancestors "reasoned" that way?