At some point, some well-meaning folks should have the goodness to invite Hillary Clinton and Maureen Dowd of the New York Times to a private meeting where Dowd should be asked to state, once and for all, what exactly it was that Hillary did to her that continues to warrant her unremitting attacks on the former first lady. This surely has to be something personal. Did Hillary run over Dowd’s cat? Or is this animus something essentially deeper than anything we’re capable of imagining?
Next, whatever Hillary’s sin against the columnist was, the former first lady now seeking to be president of the United States — a worthy ambition which Dowd seems set to abort anyway — should then be strongly advised to beg ( anything that can induce this seemingly aggrieved adversary of hers to disarm is just okay) for forgiveness. Such a forgiveness, I presume, should not be impossible for Dowd to offer, unless she wants to prove to us that her hunger for vengeance is eternally insatiable like a malevolent Greek god implacably determined to have nothing but human sacrifice for periodic appeasement.
I may already have said this before: I’m no fan of Dowd, however deft she is as a writer, however impressive her language use is. The fact is that, quite often and especially as it relates to the Clintons, the vile and vicious nature of her thoughts damn the sophistication of her language. Such is clearly enough to turn off a reader like me permanently. Yet, I keep going back to her. The reason is not far to seek. My tour of the Sunday Times is never complete until I have seen what her latest drivel is about the Clintons. Believe me, Dowd has built and burnished a career at the Times pummeling Bill and Hillary and, I must add, Chelsea. For her, this remains a worthy cause. After all, she has got a Pulitzer to show for it, and a second one as a lagniappe wouldn’t be a bad idea. If her latest fare is not about Bill or Hillary, then it is about something else concocted as a filler for that week, a breather she deems necessary so her readers don’t start thinking her obsession with the former first family has gone beyond ridiculous. Even then, she still finds a way of dragging either one of them (or both) marginally but derisively into that piece. And this was exactly what she did again in her column the other week titled, “Trump the Disrupter”.
In case you haven’t read the piece, it is, in nuce, about Donald Trump, the verbally undisciplined real estate billionaire currently vying for the Republican nomination, and from whose mouth all kinds of crass, vile, mean-spirited remarks have emanated about his opponents in the race since he tossed his hat into the ring. I have absolutely no doubt that a complete list of the insults Trump has hauled at his political opponents, immigrants and critics in the media, if compiled and titled “Trump’s Book of Insults”, could be a New York Times bestseller for months on end.
For many weeks since he began making his series of unfiltered remarks, I checked to see what Dowd’s take on Trump would be, and each time I felt disappointed that a popular columnist like her would not use a well-regarded paper like the Times to rail against Trump’s excesses. Her failure each time to rise to the occasion eventually led me to the tentative conclusion that Dowd must be scared of a possible vicious blowback from the unscripted mogul. A misogynist, Trump relishes savaging ladies with disrespectful remarks even more than he subjects men to. We already know of his infamous putdown of Rosie O’Donnell as a “fat pig”, among other ugly epithets, stuff which he appeared to glory in recently when reminded by Megyn Kelly of Fox News Channel of his history of misogyny. A counterpuncher, Trump continues to claim that O’Donnell attacked him first, and he merely hit back. He is right about that. Trump’s unrestrained propensity to hit back at his critics twice as forcefully as he gets from them, scares a lot of folks from pillorying him in the first place, including, I suspected, Dowd. I was right.
In “Trump the Disrupter”, Dowd began by saying: “I’ve been hesitant to start writing about Donald Trump. I was worried that if I wrote something that made him mad, he would send out one of his midnight mordant tweets about me, something like ‘She started as a 3. Now she’s a 1.”’ She went on to state: “I’d be upset, of course. And relieved that I wasn’t a 0. But I’ve known Trump a long time. That’s how he talks about women. I remember when he sadly broke the news that Heidi Klum was no longer a 10.” The remainder of Dowd’s piece was all fawning panegyric, indeed sheer syrupy anodyne. And all that about a man she claims to have known for “a long time” who speaks so disparagingly about people of her sex!
Of course the reason why Dowd decided to say something about Trump at last was the lethal grenade he had lobbed at Kelly the other night when he told CNN’s Don Lemon that “She (Kelly) gets out and she starts asking me all sorts of ridiculous questions… You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever.” That part of Trump’s remarks has been widely interpreted in the media to mean a reference to Kelly’s menstrual period, although the business mogul later explained that was not what he meant. But given his history, no one should be blamed for interpreting that statement exactly the way the public decoded it.
It still baffles me silly why Dowd gave Trump a pass on that unkind statement, and even went so far as to inflate his king-size ego with that adulatory offering. In her jellyfish-timidity, should not Dowd instead have maintained her silence over Trump’s endless barrage of insults against folks whose only sins are the legitimate questions they have merely asked? Should not Dowd have saved her paper’s ink and space by sparing us that drivel on Trump?
On second thoughts, however, I see it as a blessing in disguise that she treated her readers to that shameful column the previous week. The first lesson the reader should learn from Dowd’s piece is that she has a glass jaw. Like Trump, she’s thin-skinned and unable to take a blow like the kind she lands constantly on the Clintons and without so much as a smidgen of compunction. But the Clintons won’t and shouldn’t stoop to the level of Trump by volleying Dowd’s attacks back at her. Secondly, Dowd has proved, as I have always thought, that she’s not a serious columnist. Her double standards, coupled with the vitriol she so mercilessly and ceaselessly unleashes on the Clintons, will continue to vitiate her work.
As a mark of this lack of seriousness, Dowd went a step further in her feverish desire to stay in the good graces of Trump when, following The Disrupter, she sought and got a one-on-one interview with the mogul last week and emerged with a fluffy pablum she called, “Introducing Donald Trump, Diplomat.” Part of what makes Dowd’s latest fare so asinine and laughable at once, is her claim that Trump, contrary to public belief, didn’t actually mean Kelly’s menstrual cycle when he said “blood was coming out of her wherever” during that interview with Lemon. If there’s anyone out there who truly believes that Dowd meant what she said, then I have got a bridge in Brooklyn to sell that person.
Lucky Hillary! For two weeks straight, she enjoyed a respite from Dowd’s savage slicing and dicing, although, as I said earlier, the columnist did manage to toss Trump’s anti-Clinton comments into both pieces about Trump. Next Sunday or one after that, we may conceivably expect Dowd to return to Hillary, especially now that Hillary has handed over her private email server, the subject of an ongoing controversy and investigation, to the FBI for the body to comb through with a fine toothcomb. The FBI fully wants to find out whether Hillary stored some of her classified emails in that server, or sent same through it. None of these silly preoccupations by Hillary’s “enemies” — the Republicans and the media led by the Times — has any relationship to the real problems confronting the American people today, especially during a crucial election season. But Dowd and the Times, unwittingly shilling for the Republicans, perhaps, want to ensure that Hillary’s attempt to go back to the White House is hobbled and crippled severely enough until she collapses suddenly of her own weariness. Unfortunately, much of the American voting public does not see that. And that is the greatest shame of all!