I never had Maureen Dowd pegged as a woman-hater - until Saturday. That's when MoDo unleashed the worst in a long series of attacks on Senator Hillary Clinton that was, frankly, a pathetic scattering of weak, misogynistic crumbs. Look, you can oppose Clinton on many grounds if you're a Democrat sizing up the 2008 field: her support for the war, some of the failures of the Clinton presidency, even the clearly apparent size of her massive ambition (though how this is a downside for a politician is beyond me). But too many of my friends on the left are far, far from gender neutral in summing up Mrs. Clinton.
Let's run Dowd's column from Saturday's Times - headlined "Henny Penny Harridan" through the handy code-word and loaded-phrase collander, shall we? Ready, go...
Woman of passion (sarcastic reference)
The Taming of the Shrew
Bring Rummy to heel...
Staged a drama in three acts...
Queen of Hearts
Climactic demand for his head...
Hillary unmanned Rummy...
She tartly summed up...
You harridan hippy-dippy Henny Penny (In Rumsfeld's imagined voice)
Hauteur, self-righteousness, scriptedness, infighting and belief in [her] own manifest destiny...
Well, you see Maureen, about that tone. You wouldn't use it on a man. You used it because Mrs. Clinton is a woman, the first in U.S. history with a real shot at the Presidency. Now, the points she raises are mostly valid - to see how it's done without snarling "bitch" in the gutter, read Bob Herbert's column the next day. He nails Mrs. Clinton for her war positions, and hits damned hard. But there's no gender implications in his prose. Herbert treats Mrs. Clinton as if she's the real deal, someone worthy of detailed public attack. In other words, as a man.
Dowd is not alone, of course. I've heard similar stuff from people I like and respect, very gender-specific, all of it from the left. These days, it seems like the Republicans - your John McCains and Lindsey Grahams and Newt Gingrichs - treat Senator Clinton with more respect.
Not Democrats who don't like her - or those who want to snuff out any candidacy now, before she build up a head of stea. Today's Boston Herald has a piece on New Hampshire pollster Dick Bennett who strangely seems very comfortable "going beyond the numbers" - as the football analysts say - to bring on some anecdotal mysogyny from the Granite State's progressive front lines:
Evil, power-mad witch
The ultimate self-serving politician
As Rummy said to Hillary, My Goodness Gracious! Reads like a woman-hating Maureen Dowd column.
UPDATE: This post is getting a lot of interesting comments courtesy of James Wolcott's crowd, so I'm moving up with Typepad's nifty, er, "feature" feature