Saturday, January 27, 2018


Maureen Dowd has returned from an extended absence and gives us a column praising Melania Trump. (There seems to be a lot of that going around on the New York Times op-ed page.) I'm not going to address Dowd's main points, which I'm sure will be dissected elsewhere. I just want to draw your attention to this passage:
Barack Obama was always calling to our better angels. Donald Trump is paying off porn stars and denigrating struggling countries that send minorities to the U.S. as “shitholes.” How did we drop so far and so fast from class to crass?
Really? Maureen Dowd now looks back on the presidency of Obama and is nostalgic for a man who "was always calling to our better angels"?

That's not exactly what she said in real time. Here's Dowd in October 2013, just after a Republican effort to defund Obamacare went down to defeat:
At his victory scold in the State Dining Room on Thursday, the president ... couldn’t resist taking a holier-than-thou tone toward his tail-between-their-legs Tea Party foes. He assumed his favorite role of the shining knight hectoring the benighted: Sir Lecturealot.

“All of us need to stop focusing on the lobbyists and the bloggers and the talking heads on radio and the professional activists who profit from conflict,” he sermonized....

Sir Lecturealot ... always manages to convey tedium at the idea that he actually has to persuade people to come along with him, given the fact that he feels he’s doing what’s right....

He thinks he can come down from above, de haut en bas, and play the great reconciler....
How did we drop so far and so fast from class to crass? One contributing factor was the tendency of people like Maureen Dowd to describe the last president as effete, aloof, uppity, above it all. Here she was in 2010:
Obama can connect with policy. He just can’t connect with the objects of policy. Empathy seems more like an abstract concept than something to practice.

He has never shaken off that slight patronizing attitude toward the working-class voters he is losing now, the ones he dubbed “bitter” during his campaign. There is no premium in trying to save people’s jobs and lift them up and give them health care if they feel that you can’t relate to them.
Well, now we have a president who never addresses working-class voters, or anyone else, as if he's trying to appeal to their better angels. In fact, he unabashedly appeals to their worse angels. Maureen, you should be pleased. Isn't this what you wanted?

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