Friday, June 20, 2008


We know what Maureen Dowd was planning to put in every column she writes between now and November: Barry Obambi is a big girl, a fastidious priss who's easily dominated by she-men like Hillary Clinton and his own wife, arugula arugula arugula. Yeah, Dowd's shtick is tired, but her columns still show up regularly at or near the top of the "most e-mailed" list at the New York Times site.

Well, today David Brooks decided to try to out-Dowd Dowd, and right now it's his column that's the Times's most e-mailed, as well as the object of a hell of a lot more blog attention than his usual snooze-inducing sociological maunderings. What he's written today is a depiction of Obama as (in my words, not Brooks's) the anti-Obambi:

...Barack Obama is the most split-personality politician in the country today. On the one hand, there is Dr. Barack, the high-minded, Niebuhr-quoting speechifier who spent this past winter thrilling the Scarlett Johansson set and feeling the fierce urgency of now. But then on the other side, there's Fast Eddie Obama, the promise-breaking, tough-minded Chicago pol who'd throw you under the truck for votes.

This guy is the whole Chicago package: an idealistic, lakefront liberal fronting a sharp-elbowed machine operator....

There's not much to support charges of Machiavellianism (he ditched Jeremiah Wright after saying he wouldn't! he ditched public financing after saying he wouldn't!), but I don't care. If this Obama-as-badass notion seeps into supposedly serious political coverage (as Dowd's caricatures seem to do), it can really help neutralize the Obambi narrative, which is just the kind of thing that hobbles Democratic presidential candidates. Hell, Dowd herself might even decide that the senator is a biological male and his wife is a woman. (OK, I'm dreaming here.) Maybe that wouldn't be hugely significant, but if Brooks actually did generate a meme here, I think it's a good one for our side.

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