by Molly Ivors
It's hardly news that Maureen Dowd is a shallow, bitchy Mean Girl more interested in fashion and surfaces than policy. Her place on the NYTimes opinion page reveals the lie that feminism has accomplished all it needed to and we're done with it: she's taking a place which rightly belongs to Digby or Echidne or Katha Pollitt and filling it with gossipy crap, confirming with every word she writes snotty misogynist ideas about what women are interested in and what they're "really" like. Let's fact check today's excretion, shall we?
The former American first lady, the one who’s supposed to be brimming over with feminist impulses, has ignored and overlooked her husband’s peccadilloes for the greater gain of keeping her marriage intact, as she tries to return to the gilded perch and run the White House.
Cécilia Sarkozy acts so American, while Hillary Clinton acts so French.
Cécilia at one point left her marriage to go to New York and seek love American-style, while Hillary lost the public love in the ’90s when she tried French-style health care reform.
Okay, MoDo, let's play your game. Bill cheated, yeah. A couple of times. And she stayed with him because she loved him, because the marriage was worth more to her than that, because.... hell, I don't know why. And you know what? I don't care. The interworkings of other people's marriages are a mystery to everyone. No one knows what goes on inside a marriage. No one. And that's a good thing.
This idea that Hillary isn't quite feminist enough because she didn't tell him to pound salt the first time pisses me off. How the hell do you, oh spinster Dowd, claim to know why she acted as she did? Fuck you.
And Hillary "lost the love" of the American people with health care? An interesting assertion: one would almost think that she hadn't been forced to change her hair ten times during the campaign or come up with a cookie recipe to show that she was a "real" woman. One might even point to a focused advertising blitz on the part of the insurance industry, concerned Harry and Louise poring over their bills and wondering what Hillarycare would mean for them, or the wingnuts, who these days love their data-mining, but who, in 1993, were quite busy ginning up paranoia about having all your health history encoded onto a card you carried with you. Indeed, wouldn't the country have been better off if she had succeeded? At the time, the plan's being "Too French" was not even a consideration. Of course, at that time "French" wasn't wingnut slang for "cowardly Islamosympathizing feminazi" either. Just keep slipping the buzzwords in there, MoDo. I hope they're paying you in Botox and Manolo Blahniks.
Shall we go on?
You know MoDo is in trouble when she turns to Caitlin "I Love Being a Stay-at-Home Mom with a Staff!" Flanagan, about whose perspectives on actual women's lives I am, shall we say, skeptical.
Now that Mark Penn believes women can carry her to victory, Hillary speaks girlfriend to girlfriend.
That tack, Caitlin Flanagan writes in The Atlantic, would only work if she were “willing to let us women in on the big, underlying struggle of her life that is front and center in our understanding of who she is as a woman. Her husband’s sexual behavior, quite apart from the private pain that it has caused her, has also sullied her deepest — and most womanly — ideals and convictions, for the Clintons’ political partnership has demanded that she defend actions she knows to be indefensible. To call her husband a philanderer is almost to whitewash him, for he’s used women far less sophisticated, educated and powerful than he — women particularly susceptible to the rake’s characteristic blend of cajolery and deceit — for his sexual gratification.
“In glossing over her husband’s actions and abetting his efforts to squirm away from the scrutiny and judgment they provoke, Hillary has too often lapsed into her customary hauteur and self-righteousness and added to the pain delivered upon these women.”
MoDo then points out that "hauteur" is, of course, French. I am not making this up.
The brilliant Molly Ivins used to say that, in the 1970's, when she told people she was a feminist, they assumed she was easy. By the 1990's, they assumed she was a lesbian. I note this because there's apparently some form of conservative feminism in which sexual continence is the sine qua non, but I don't remember ever having picked that up in my feminist theory classes (which I took with some pretty prominent people). I guess the point is that, as a woman, she should have sided with the women in every case, but in at least one, the charges are dodgy at best.
And the transparent snobbery of Flanagan's assertion that "he’s used women far less sophisticated, educated and powerful than he — women particularly susceptible to the rake’s characteristic blend of cajolery and deceit — for his sexual gratification" would be laughable if it weren't so hateful. Women learn to detect bullshit in men pretty early, actually, and it doesn't take a lot of sophistication or education to blow off an unwanted pass.
Bill was raised by a single mom in a trailer park--it's no real surprise that his tastes ran to women of the class into which he was born. I always maintained that a large part of his charm was the implied stink of trailer-park sex, cheese curls and beer. Yes, he grew out of the trailer park, but we never grow out of where we came from, not really. He lived most of his life with Hillary, the wife he aspired to, but I don't think anyone should be shocked at the backsliding into class--it happens all the time.
And "cajolery and deceit"? Did he ever pretend not to be married? The idea that a woman who sleeps with a married man has to be "cajoled" is laughable--betcha MoDo has a married scalp or two hanging from her belt. And I'll bet she knew it at the time.
Flanagan also brings up the "she abandoned the cat!" idiocy, which would only have legs if one assumed that, like a cookie recipe or a haircut, proving her femininity was in any way a qualification for public office. Or that giving a cat to a family friend was abandoning it. (UPDATE: My mistake: it was Bill's dog Buddy who was run over in traffic, in the relatively quiet town of Chappaqua, NY. He got another dog.)
It goes on like that, with the standard list of Hillary insults: opportunism, secrecy, ruthlessness, cold-eyed, mannish (more manly than Obama, MoDo declares), and, a new one: "the debate dominatrix."
Huh. I though we used to just call them "winners."
Below: MoDo and Caitlin explain Hillary to the boys.