Sunday, August 09, 2015


I suppose we should have foreseen that Maureen Dowd would be one of the first mainstream pundits to write a "taking Donald Trump seriously" column -- allegedly a feminist, Dowd swoons over men who take deep draws on expensive cigars while savoring their own alpha-male status. She appreciates Trump the way, a dozen years ago, she appreciated Arnold Schwarzenegger, another guy known to mistreat women, because he was nice to her, and because he wasn't that icky beta, Gray Davis. In fact, Dowd actually felt sorry for Schwarzenegger:
Poor Arnold. He's squeezed between McClintock conservatives, who don't like his female-friendly positions on social issues, and starchy P.C. types, who don't like his history of ribald humor and macho roles. At a press conference in South Central the other night, an overwrought woman from a TV station pressed him on a quote he gave while promoting "Terminator 3," about how cool it was to push the female Terminator's face into a toilet bowl.

It was impossible not to feel sorry for the guy, as he explained once more: "She was a machine. She wasn't a woman. She was a machine. Do you get it? I love women. Trust me."

Gray Davis, the stiff, unpopular guy, is out there straining to act spontaneous and loosey-goosey....
I'll spare you the rest. In today's column, she's the same regarding Trump -- it's just an act! He's good-bad but not evil!
I enjoy Trump’s hyperbolic, un-P.C. flights because there are too few operatic characters in the world. I think of him as a Toon. He’s just drawn that way. And his Frank Sinatra lingo about women aside, he always treated me courteously and professionally.

Back in 1999, when he was flirting with a presidential run, I asked the ladies’ man how he would do with the women’s vote.

“I might do badly,” he said with a smile. “They know me better than anybody else. Women are much tougher and more calculating than men. I relate better to women.”
This after she tells us:
I’VE been hesitant to start writing about Donald Trump.

I was worried that if I wrote something that made him mad, he would send out one of his midnight mordant tweets about me, something like “She started as a 3. Now she’s a 1.”

I’d be upset, of course. And relieved that I wasn’t a 0. But I’ve known Trump a long time. That’s how he talks about women. I remember when he sadly broke the news that Heidi Klum was no longer a 10.
Yeah, he's abusive to women, and he's actually left me too intimidated to write about him until now -- but heck, that's just him! And if he tells the world I'm ugly, I probably deserve it!

Dowd wrote this column defending Trump, and The New York Times posted it online, shortly after Trump battled with Megyn Kelly in the Fox News debate, but before he told CNN that Kelly had had "blood coming out of her wherever" during the debate. The online version of the column has a postscript in which Dowd tries to walk back her dismissal of Trump's obnoxiousness ("Even in opéra bouffe, showmen can get thrown out of the show if they cross certain boorish lines"), but the column appears in the Sunday print Times without the postscript. Oops!

But you get the feeling from the postscript that Dowd is sorry-not-sorry that she defended Trump. ("Trump just can’t stop himself. Or doesn’t want to.")

What she tells us in the main column is that Trump's testosterone-pumping id and irrepressible animal spirits might be just what the American political system needs -- certainly more than, say, that effete Barry O'Bambi:
After covering nine presidential races, I have concluded that it is really hard to know who you’re electing -- even after attenuated campaigns with an absurd amount of exposure for candidates.

That’s because you can’t foresee what crises will crop up, or what gremlins of insecurity and perversity the White House will inevitably elicit in presidential psyches.

You can have a candidate like W., after sincerely telling us he will have a “humble” foreign policy, proceed to stumble jejunely into decades-long wars in the Middle East. You can have a charming newcomer like Barack Obama, ascending like a political Pegasus, who loses altitude because it turns out he disdains politics.

It’s always a pig in a poke. So why not a pig who pokes?
"So why not a pig who pokes?" Yes, she actually wrote that.

More from Dowd:
His policy ideas are ripped from the gut instead of the head.
(Policy ideas? He has policy ideas? Besides building a border fence and somehow getting Mexico to pay for it, what are they?)
His policy ideas are ripped from the gut instead of the head. Still, he can be a catalyst, challenging his rivals where they need to be challenged and smoking them out, ripping off the facades they’ve constructed with their larcenous image makers. Trump can pierce the trompe l’oeil illusions, starting with Jeb’s defense of his brother’s smashing the family station wagon into the globe.

Consider how Trump yanked back the curtain Thursday night explaining how financial quid pro quos warp the political system.

“Well, I’ll tell you what, with Hillary Clinton, I said be at my wedding and she came to my wedding,” he said. “You know why? She had no choice because I gave. I gave to a foundation that, frankly, that foundation is supposed to do good. I didn’t know her money would be used on private jets going all over the world.”

Sometimes you need a showman in the show.
But we're not talking about Trump's critique of the Bush family or the campaign finance system. We're talking about Trump. Because Trump bloviates in a way that doesn't put these issues up for discussion so much as it puts him up for discussion. Apart from immigration, Trump has brought no actual issue to the forefront of political conversation -- until now, when we're talking about sexism, not because he raised sexism as an issue in the course of a policy pronouncement but because he's a misogynist throwback. And it's not going to get any better the longer he's in the race, Maureen. Because Trump's talk is all about Trump.


Sean McCabe said...

"Frank Sinatra lingo about women aside" and "ladies man"...she called him a ladies man. He's going to love that column.

Victor said...

Why, why does the NY Times let this jejune political gossip columnist have one of the most valuable pieces of remaining Op-Ed space to scribble her meandering musings?

Ditto Bobo and Douchehat.

peabody nobis said...

Dowd has issues, seriously.

nonynony said...

peabody nobis - Dowd doesn't just have issues. She seems to have an entire magazine stand.

Kathleen O'Neill said...

Or as I used to say, "More issues than 52 years of TV Guide".

Ken_L said...

"I have concluded that it is really hard to know who you’re electing -- even after attenuated campaigns with an absurd amount of exposure for candidates."

So can we take this argument to its logical conclusion please? Change the constitution so no campaigning is allowed until a week before the election. Or better still, pick a name at random from the telephone book, each state having a turn. There, that's the next 200 years of presidents fixed.

Roger said...

So Lynne Cheney's "Step away from my man" comments have finally gotten through to MoDo.

On to the next one@

Roland Nikles said...

Dowd's column is consistent with my "this is the WWF wrestling season of the political cycle." Dowd knows as well as we that Trump will not be president, and he will not be the Republican nominee. The overarching observation is "the whole nominating process is a bit of a circus" (paraphrasing). Since it's a circus, some clowns are appropriate. When the voting starts, the clowns (and Dowd makes clear she thinks the Donald is one) will fall by the wayside. In the meantime, she's got a point in a Daily Show sort of way. Jams Taranto is being way too serious.

Steve M. said...

I'm not James Taranto -- read the byline to my posts.

Dowd thinks Trump is actually getting an important message across -- read her column.

Ellie Kesselman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
joannis said...

What if this hitchcockeroo ends with a Trump Presidency? O Canada!

Brendan Keefe said...

Oooo ... where's the Like button when I need it?

Good line, @Kathleen O'Neill!