Wednesday, August 13, 2014


Maureen Dowd's latest column is being widely mocked -- at sites ranging from Twitchy to the Tumblr blog Is Maureen Dowd High Right Now? -- for a whiplash-inducing segue that leads from Robin Williams to Hillary Clinton, via the Iraq War:
... In 1993, when he played a prim British nanny in "Mrs. Doubtfire," I went to interview [Robin Williams] at his Pacific Heights house....

As our interview ended, I was telling him about my friend Michael Kelly's idea for a 1-900 number, not one to call Asian beauties or Swedish babes, but where you'd have an amorous chat with a repressed Irish woman. Williams delightedly riffed on the caricature, playing the role of an older Irish woman answering the sex line in a brusque brogue, ordering a horny caller to go to the devil with his impure thoughts and disgusting desire.

I couldn't wait to play the tape for Kelly, who doubled over in laughter.

So when I think of Williams, I think of Kelly. And when I think of Kelly, I think of Hillary, because Michael was the first American reporter to die in the Iraq invasion, and Hillary Clinton was one of the 29 Democratic senators who voted to authorize that baloney war.

The woman who always does her homework, the woman who resigned as president of Wellesley College's Young Republicans over the Vietnam War, made that vote without even bothering to read the National Intelligence Estimate with its skimpy evidence....
Did you follow that? I'll give you a minute to recover.

Is it fair to attack Clinton for voting to authorize the Iraq War? Sure -- we denied her the Democratic nomination in 2008 largely because of that vote.

And yes, I give Maureen Dowd credit for being an Iraq War skeptic back in 2002.

But her pal Michael Kelly? I know you're not supposed to speak ill of the dead, but no one tried harder to cheerlead for that war -- and browbeat its critics -- than Kelly did. On the tenth anniversary of his death, Gawker's Tom Scocca compiled a few choice Kelly quotes:
We are in a position of triumph, and potentially much greater triumph. A few months ago, all was still in tatters. Hussein still defied with impunity, still ruled unchallenged over his torture state, still schemed to advance his dreams of himself as the atomic Saladin... The will of one man, George W. Bush, changed all this.


[H]undreds of thousands of marchers -- and many more millions who did not march -- believe quite sincerely that theirs is a profoundly moral cause, and this is really all that motivates them. They believe, as French President Jacques Chirac recently pontificated, that 'war is always the worst answer.'

The people who believe what Chirac at least professes to believe are, in the matter of Iraq, as wrong as it is possible to be. Theirs is not the position of profound morality but one that stands in profound opposition to morality.


Tyranny truly is a horror: an immense, endlessly bloody, endlessly painful, endlessly varied, endless crime against not humanity in the abstract but a lot of humans in the flesh. It is, as Orwell wrote, a jackboot forever stomping on a human face.

...[A]ny rescue of a people under the boot (be they Afghan, Kuqaiti, or Iraqi) is something to be desired. Even if the rescue is less than perfectly realized. Even if the rescuer is a great, overmuscled, bossy, selfish oaf. Or would you, for yourself, choose the boot?
Yes, Hillary Clinton's openness to hawkish arguments (a decade ago and now) upsets me. But everyone at her level gets assimilated by the hawkish Borg to some extent -- it happened to President Obama; it's happening right now to Rand Paul (who's can't quite bring himself to denounce the bombing of Iraq). The cultural norms are enforced by people like Michael Kelly. Did he even bother to read the National Intelligence Estimate with its skimpy evidence? Did Dowd ever ask him?


Victor said...

Reading that excerpt was like riding one of 'em new-fangled roller-coasters, which twist every which way, run you upside down, and then take you backwards through those same twists and turns.

Feeling dizzy, I think I'll skip the rest of the (non)Amusement Park, and won't read the rest of her column.

mcfrank said...

And, of course, Ms Dowd is wrong from the get-go. As anyone who has actually watched and or listened to any part of the movie knows, Mrs. Doubtfire is Scottish!

Unknown said...

Why anyone would take the gibberish of Dowd seriously at this point is beyond me. The Times strikes another mortal blow to itself with every publication of Modo.
I do take exception to the concept that Obama defeated Hillary on the strength of her Iraq war vote. Obama was simply a better candidate. He beat her fair and square
Hillary has her strengths, but campaigning ain't one of them.

Philo Vaihinger said...

"Hillary Clinton was one of the 29 Democratic senators who voted to authorize that baloney war."

That would be GW's war against Iraq.

All 29 should have retired forever from public life as an act of public apology and atonement for such a disastrous war.

One, let us recall, she supported and Obama called "stupid."

For the light that casts on the exact wording of her attacks on his foreign policy, lately.

Dark Avenger said...

She meant to watch it again, then she got high.

trizzlor said...

So what's the general standard? Is Dowd forever wrong to criticize Hillary if any of her friends were ever pro-war? Or is Dowd supposed to include a criticism of all her pro-war friends - living or dead - in any such column? I just don't see how the behavior of her friends has any relevance to her criticisms of Hillary (as hamfisted as they are).

Steve M. said...

The standard is, you shouldn't write a column that essentially says, "You should despise Hillary Clinton as a bloodthirsty warmonger, a fact I was reminded of just now when I was reminiscing about one of my dearest departed friends, a bloodthirsty warmonger."

M. Bouffant said...

The will of one man, George W. Bush, changed all this.
You remember who else's will triumphed (for a while)don't you?