Sometimes Maureen Dowd can be just mean. And so flawed, sometimes even more so than the people she criticizes. This was the case in her most recent take down of Hillary Rodham Clinton. To be clear, I too am critical of HRC, and I believe Ms. Dowd is an invaluable voice of bringing such criticisms to the fore, although maybe in a different way than she thinks: it serves to keep Ms. Clinton honest, and more in line with what I perceive are her fundamental principles.
Picking and choosing as she will (which is usually an ominous sign and a method lending itself to a self-serving and imbalanced narrative), Ms. Dowd highlights what seems to me to be some pretty fundamental and essential, if not unfortunate, features of current political life: 1) politicians must be constantly aware of and vigilant regarding their public image, 2) everything politicians do, publicly and privately, goes into the determination of their image, and 3) this reality causes their consultants and staff to micromanage public and private details at a painful, seemingly laughable (but only if not cognizant of how this really, really does matter) level.
Still, Ms. Dowd mocks HRC & Co. for stuff like actually paying attention to the potential messages flowing from her twentieth wedding anniversary and calculating the best way to deal with President Clinton’s shortcomings. For the latter, Dowd parades out Monica Lewinsky again. Here is when it gets humorous because Dowd actually criticizes the assessment that a woman who kept kept and herself parades out a semen stained dress (I mean, truly, how does that realistically manage to happen) is not, as described by many, including HRC, a bit of an ego- or “erotomaniac,” “nutty and slutty.” And, yes, it is not a stretch that the former President tried to distance himself from her as quickly as possible once this became clear.
Still, not unexpectedly, Ms. Dowd reaches her intended destination:
Ms. Dowd should know, for chrissakes, that being real doesn’t always faithfully translate in the press. Such is the incessant, near vapid picking over of everything done by HRC and others, and the constant warping, decontextualizing, manipulation and morphing by the pundits, operatives, opponents, and opportunists, not to mention the press, some of whom misrepresent and mislead to reinforce their political message. To not be obsessively aware, to not attempt to minimize and neutralize the entrenched critics, would not only be foolish but political suicide. Lawyers call it malpractice. Yes, the Clinton’s have been around for awhile and it is likely because they get this and do this better than anyone else. Certainly Ms. Dowd must get this too, right?
The real question is, towards what aims? For the rest of us occupying the same political sphere as I think Ms. Dowd does, those aims are true.
And for the record, the “issue about her that is so troubling and hard to fathom,” namely, as Ms. Dowd describes it, being both tireless and talented public servant and tired yet insecure and defensive is because (insert drum roll here), Ms. Rodham Clinton is, well, kinda human. She is not perfect. None of us are. God knows, none of our politicians nor our press are; and neither are you. But Secretary Clinton’s talents offset her weaknesses absolutely and relatively, meaning, her balance is better than most. And I, for one, am glad that her handlers are there to help her get it right. Or at least better.
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