Maureen Dowd's column today begins with a barrage of quintessentially Dowdian snark, directed (of course) at President Obama:
THE president was at the United Nations on Wednesday urging young people across the Muslim world to reject benighted values, even as America clambers into bed with a bunch of Middle East potentates who espouse benighted values....Tough stuff.
He and Secretary of State John Kerry have cajoled this motley crew for the coalition ... even though in countries like Saudi Arabia and Qatar, powerful elements are financing some of the same terrorists that their governments have been enlisted to fight....
When American presidents rain down bombs on Muslim countries, they use the awful treatment of women in the Middle East as one of their justifications....
"Where women are full participants in a country's politics or economy, societies are more likely to succeed," [President Obama] said [in his speech at the United Nations]. "And that's why we support the participation of women in parliaments and peace processes, schools and the economy."
Yet, because we need the regressive rulers in the Persian Gulf to sell us oil and buy our fighter jets and house our fleets and drones and give us cover in our war coalitions, we don't really speak out about their human rights violations and degradation of women as much as we should....
But then midway through the column, Dowd suddenly declares that hypocrisy is a virtue, not a vice, and Obama should talk about human rights and women's rights less, not more:
The president should just drop the flowery talk and cut to the chase. Americans get it. Let's not pretend we’re fighting for any democratic principles here.So which is it? Is Obama an awful president because he's a hypocrite, or because he's not enough of one?
America failed spectacularly in creating its democratic model kitchen with Iraq. So now we have to go back periodically and cut the grass, as they say in Israel, to keep our virulent foes in check.
It is pre-emption. But the difference with President Obama's pre-emption is that there is an actual threat to the globe from a vicious, maniacal army.
Dowd goes on to list examples of extreme ISIS brutality toward women She quotes Haleh Esfandiari, director of the Middle East Program at the Wilson Center and the author of a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed on this subject:
"I've been working with women in the Middle East for 40 years, and I've never seen such brutality, such barbarism as that which ISIS is committing against women. It is unbelievable."Then she quotes Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations:
Haass noted that one of the lessons we should have learned in fighting halfway around the world, from Vietnam to Iraq, is "the power of local realities."And there Dowd's column ends.
"One of the things we've learned is that we can't deliver fundamental social and cultural transformation in this part of the world," he said. "Our ability to influence the position or status of women in the Arab or Muslim world is limited."
He said the Arab coalition is necessary because "our priority has got to be to push back and weaken ISIS.
"Even if we're not in a position to give women the better life they deserve," he concluded, "we are in a position to save many of them from what ISIS would do to them. And that’s significant."
So if Dowd is endorsing Esfandiari's view that the mistreatment of women by ISIS is shocking compared to what takes place in established Middle Eastern states, and Haaas's view that we simply don't have the ability to turn the Middle East into a human rights and women's rights paradise, and therefore it's enough to act in response to ISIS's excesses, then why does she spend the first half of the column accusing Obama of hypocrisy?
We know the answer to that, of course: It's just what Dowd does. Smug superiority it's what they pay her to deliver.
But she could at least refrain from building an argument and then thoroughly debunking the same argument within the space of one column.