Wednesday, February 14, 2007

You know who should be taking Giuliani down a peg? Maureen Dowd. Isn't that her market niche -- that she's the equal-opportunity verbal bomb thrower, scourge of Clintons and Bushes alike?

But she won't, will she? How hard is it to imagine that she'll treat candidate Giuliani the way she treated another simulated tough guy, Arnold Schwarzenegger -- especially if, like Arnold, he sweet-talks her? (Read this bit of gush. And this one. As Joan Walsh wrote at the time in Salon, these columns were "valentines to Schwarzenegger, featuring banal banter between them that she seemed to think was politically revealing, but which basically read like flirting.")

For now, Dowd's obsessed with Barack Obama -- and I'm not sure if it's because, to her, Obama's a handsome guy who spurned her or a pretty girl who's going to beat her in the prom queen election.

It's the former if you assume that Dowd thinks she was nice to Obama in this column and, to some extent, this one, and now she thinks he wasn't sufficiently grateful. (For being called "Obambi" in column #2, presumably -- but hey, she also called him "Senator Clinton’s worst nightmare"! What higher praise is there, coming from Dowd?)

Today, here she goes again:

...The Illinois senator didn't have on an implacable mask of amiability, as Hillary did in Iowa. He didn't look happily in his element, like Bill Clinton. But he certainly didn't look as if he was straining to survive the Q .& A.'s, as W. did in the beginning.

So, not being like Hillary and Bill is bad, Maureen? I thought you thought they were the biggest phonies going? Oh well -- at least you graded Obama above Bush.

Beyond his smooth-jazz facade, the reassuring baritone and that ensorcelling smile, the 45-year-old had moments of looking conflicted.

Wow, that's good -- "smooth jazz": both black and phony black, inauthentic, watered down. Dowd ghettoizes him by race and then says he's not enough of a race man. Oh, and "ensorcelling"? First-rate thesaurus work. What it means is "bewitching"; it comes from the same root word as "sorcery" -- because, of course, all Democrats who aren't dolts are cunning, unnatural tricksters.

...Everything was a revelation for him: The advance team acronym RON, for Rest Overnight. Women squealing. "I saw a hat," he noted with a grin, "that said, 'Obama, clean and articulate.'"

Raise your hand if you think he's never been squealed at by women until now.

... and he's so slender his wedding band looked as if it was slipping off....

He's married and thin. Wow, Maureen, we know you've disappeared into a cliche, the single woman with low self-esteem, but could you make it any more obvious that you're jealous?

...After talking to high school journalists, he took a sniffy shot at the loutish reporters who were merely whispering where's the beef: "Take some notes, guys, that’s how it's done."

That one aspect of Obama's style is pretty much George W. Bush's entire style (cranked up, in Bush's case, to a much higher level of nastiness and snippiness). It worked for Bush for years. But I understand, Maureen -- it's unsettling to see a Democrat who doesn't seem to be wearing a sign that says "Kick me."

No fewer than three times last week, Mr. Obama got indignant about the beach-babe attention given to a shot of him in the Hawaiian surf.

Using the dreaded third person that some candidates slip into, he told the press that one of their favorite narratives boiled down to "Obama has pretty good style, he can deliver a pretty good speech, but he seems to prioritize rhetoric over substance.” After an ode to his own specificity, he tut-tutted, "You've been reporting on how I look in a swimsuit."

First of all, that's not the dreaded third person. The dreaded third person is referring to yourself by your own name. This is Obama quoting the way other people talk about him. When they talk about him, they don't refer to him as "I," they refer to him as "Obama." So when he quotes them, he says "Obama" -- because that's what they say. Am I going too fast for you, Maureen?

And did he "get indignant" -- or is this just a terse, effective press-bashing line? I heard him say this on 60 Minutes and it sounded like the latter to me.

He poses for the cover of Men's Vogue and then gets huffy when people don't treat him as Hannah Arendt.

I guess you'd prefer Muscle & Fitness, Maureen? (See the Schwarzenegger columns above.)

For some of us, it's hard to fathom being upset at getting accused of looking great in a bathing suit.

Oh, Carrie. Grab a quart of Haagen-Dazs and call Charlotte, Samantha, or Miranda.

I guess we've got at least a year of this to look forward to.

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