New York Times Op-ed fabulist, Maureen Dowd, wrote an entire book devoted to the theme that, she Maureen Dowd, is so smart, talented, beautiful, witty, and fabulous that she deserves to have every rich, smart, talented, handsome, witty, and fabulous man she passes drop to his knees, whip out a ring, and propose to her on the spot and the fact that this does not happen is proof that men are scared of smart, talented, beautiful, witty, and fabulous women.
Maureen Dowd thinks Hillary Clinton's most unattractive character flaw is Clinton's sense of entitlement.
Proof again that what we hate most in other people is what we hate most when we look in the mirror, I guess.
Once upon a time, and a very long time ago it was now, Maureen Dowd got the idea to write a novel about her high school days and the handsome and charming but feckless boy who dumped her in order to take the totally stuck-up class brain and teacher's pet to the junior prom.
Dowd thought it would be clever to imagine these two people who'd carelessly and callously broken her heart by not realizing how much she deserved the love of the handsome and charming and feckless boy in their present day lives. So she decided to make him a slick, scheming politician and her his cold, calculating, Lady MacBeth of a wife. Dowd was a very busy journalist at the time and couldn't get right down to work on her novel so she hit upon a plan for writing it serially in her op-ed column. He editors thought this was just oh so cute and clever and let her get away with it.
For eight years Dowd plugged away at her novel, never getting closer to the the end, mainly because she couldn't stop finding new nasty qualities and evil motives to attribute to her two main characters. And a funny thing happened. As the time wore on, Dowd became lost in her never-ending story. She began to think that her novel was real life and the characters she'd invented really were the President of the United States and his first lady.
This is an occupational hazard for novelists and it's happened to some of the best. Charles Dickens was known to have taken his "favorite child" David Copperfield to the ballgame and Raymond Chandler got himself beat up in a bar fight with Philip Marlow after an argument over a chess game.
A funnier thing happened. Because Dowd worked for the most respected newspaper in the country, and because she was so smart, and talented, and witty, a lot of people, including other journalists, started thinking that the stories she was telling were true!
After all, Dowd was one of the smartest, most talented, and witty journalists in the country, surely she wouldn't stoop to making things up just to gratify her own ego and vanity? And surely the New York Times wouldn't publish fiction on its op-ed page? (Nowdays, with Thomas Friedman, David Brooks, and now William Kristol appearing there, the Times op-ed page is almost nothing but. Paul Krugman and Bob Herbert must feel like they've showed up for a business meeting dressed in suits only to find they're at a luau.) These characters who had the same names as the President of the United States and his wife couldn't be imaginary, not if Maureen Dowd was writing about them in the New York Times. They must really be the President and Mrs Clinton! So all these journalists started covering the real Clintons as if they were the characters in Maureen Dowd's novel.
Bill Clinton's Presidency came to an end and when he left office he took Dowd's inpsiration with him. Her novel languished. She tried starting a new one, this one about a petulant politician she called The Boy King, but her heart wasn't in it. She couldn't imagine either the Boy King or his librarian wife as versions of the boy who had dumped her back in high school and the nerdy, undeserving girl he had dumped her for.
Then a wonderful thing happened. Hillary Clinton decided to run for President!
Dowd reached into her desk drawer and dug out the old floppy disk with her unfinished novel on it and went back to work with renewed energy and zeal. This time out, with her male lead pushed to the sidelines, she could concentrate all her anger and outrage...um...gift for satirical portraiture on her main female character and really show the world what a bitch that brainy girl back in high school had been.
This morning Dowd has her character winning the New Hampshire primary by calculatingly crying a few crocodile tears the weekend before.
Dowd's novel has always included a level of ambiguity. She's been careful to leave it to her readers to decide whether the main characters are doing the normal, human thing for cynical reasons or for base and vicious reasons. So in this morning's chapter, Dowd suggests that while her character had probably forced the tears, she might really have been crying but not because she felt any deep emotions or because she was physically exhausted by the grueling campaign---no, she was only crying because she was mad about losing, which, we all know, is an emotion only bad people feel.
But whether or not Dowd's heroine/villainess faked the tears or if she really threw a temper tantrum, Dowd is clear on one thing---she only won the primary because she successfully played the victim.
Now in real life some people might think that one candidate might have won the primary because she had the better field organization in that state or because many of the independent voters like the type her opponent had scooped up in winning Iowa voted in the Republican primary this time instead and that there weren't enough of the younger voters who had also helped give her opponent the edge back in Iowa or because New Hampshire isn't Iowa and the voters there have different concerns and different ideas about what candidate for President they should support or because of a dozen other real-world reasons that have nothing to do with the candidates' imagined manipulative and pathological personalities.
But none of that would be in keeping with the theme of Dowd's novel. Who do you think she is, Tolstoy? Accidental forces of nature, economics, and history have no importance in her book. It's all about the psychology of her main characters. Dowd is a romantic not a naturalist.
In her book, what voters want and think and feel and need, that's all irrelevant. Politics is all about personality, and a politician's personality is whatever Maureen Dowd needs it to be to make her novel work.
Over at Shakesville, in the latest edition of Tart and our sis Wev McEwan's ongoing series, Shut Up, Maureen Dowd, Wev reviews today's installment of Dowd's book and observes how far removed it, and its author, are from reality:
...perpetuating the demonstrably false narrative that Hillary was choked up by the prospect of losing, when she was, in fact, speaking quite personally, revealingly, and, duh, emotionally about her candidacy, MoDo sniffs:
[I]t was grimly typical of her that what finally made her break down was the prospect of losing.
As Spencer Tracy said to Katharine Hepburn in "Adam's Rib," "Here we go again, the old juice. Guaranteed heart melter. A few female tears, stronger than any acid."
More irony: Hillary was also speaking with rueful disdain about those who treat politics as a game. I can only imagine her regret at those who treat it like a romantic comedy, where the object is not even winning, but forcibly conforming candidates to the part of the boy or the girl, only to use the stereotypes of the genre to demean them.
If they're the girl, that is.
Author's note in response to imaginary reader's query: Yes, as it happens, I am writing a novel myself. It's about the smart, talented, beautiful, and witty redhead who turned me down flat when I asked her to the junior prom. Why do you ask?
Tearfully related: Jon Swift on The Crying of Maureen Dowd.
Lexicographically related: Doghouse Riley's brilliant MoDo Glossary.
Related more succinctly: Susie's shorter MoDo.