Echidne pointed me to the latest steaming turd pile dropped on the pages of the Times by Maureen Dowd in place of an actual piece of journalism. In today's plopper, she wonders "Deign or Reign?" and cobbles together a jumbled mélange of folksy anecdote, selective quoting, and indiscriminate smears, held together with her usual adhesive of smug judgment and crazy, to arrive at the gobsmackingly insipid rhetorical: "Will Queen Hillary reign? Will Prince Barack deign? And who is owed more?"
That last bit—who is owed more?—references her actual premise, buried beneath the searingly clever "Deign or Reign" rubric, which is that Clinton and Obama are uppity. But, as I'm sure you've heard, Maureen Dowd is, like, all liberal and shit, and totally not just some highly-paid tool of a white patriarchal elite persistently enforcing its narratives against would-be interlopers, so it's not like she's the intellectual equivalent of a bodyguard keeping geeks and fatties out of Club Gofuckyourself—heavens, no! She just doesn't like the attitude—happenstancially shared by the one woman and one black man in the race—that they are owed the presidency.
After calling Clinton, in a single paragraph, stubborn and imperious and secretive and vindictive and entitled and off-putting and self-sabotaging and dysfunctional and careless, the evidence for which is, apparently, presumed to be self-evident, Dowd then complains:
The underlying rationale for her campaign is that she is owed. Owed for moving to Arkansas and giving up the name Rodham, owed for pretending to care about place settings and menus when she held the unappetizing title of first lady, owed for enduring one humiliation after another at the hands of her husband.It's no secret that I am not fond of Clinton the candidate but am fond of Clinton the person, which gives me a rather interesting (and fairly objective) perspective on her campaign—and I daresay I pay more attention, like all political junkies, to individual primary campaigns than the vast majority of Americans. And I've seen absolutely no evidence of this outsized sense of entitlement that Dowd proclaims the "underlying rationale" of Clinton's entire candidacy.
Every candidate for the office of the presidency evinces some demonstrable hubris, merely by virtue of their belief they are fit to run a global superpower. That's chutzpah. In no way, however, has Clinton impertinently claimed, overtly or otherwise, an unassailable right to the presidency. She has, after all, long been the frontrunner, a fundraising juggernaut anointed by the press as the presumed nominee, the person to beat. Surely that makes vanity candidates like Joe Biden, who has a snowman's chance in the Mojave summer of winning the nomination, more deserving of opprobrium for pomposity than Clinton—and, even then, it would be tough to make a convincing case that he appears to believe he's owed the presidency.
Dowd's asinine premise might be vaguely convincing if we didn't know what someone who feels he's owed the presidency looks like, but we do.
In 1996, Bob Dole was running against incumbent Bill Clinton, having finally won his party's nomination after several previous failed attempts, starting in 1980. To secure that nomination, he had battled his way through a vicious Republican primary with nearly a dozen candidates, during which he lost the New Hampshire primary to Pat Buchanan, and, by the '96 election, Dole was 73 years old. He was lampooned by every political comic and sketch show as having ruthlessly blustered his way to the top of his party's ticket by repeatedly asserting "It's my turn!" to be president. There was, as always, truth in those jokes. Dole positively emanated a sense of being owed not just his party's nomination, but the presidency itself, despite running against a popular incumbent, and his oppressive desperation could not be hidden beneath the death-mask grin and reflexive thumbs-up offered to soften his sense of entitlement.
It's the same repulsive vainglory exhibited by McCain, whose desperation for the presidency is so palpable that he verily reeks of My-Turnism. Part of McCain's enormous fury at losing the 2000 nomination to Bush, beyond the Bush team's dirty tactics, was that Dubya was a contemptible upstart who didn't deserve the nomination. Not like McCain did—especially according to the Old School GOP nominating tradition, which did indeed favor rewarding the man whose time had come as opposed to the best man for the times to come. And part of what now informs his maniacally merciless campaign this time around, driving him to levels of pandering and disingenuousness that would probably make his younger self blush, is the sense that he deserves the nomination that much more since having to cede it to an undeserving whippersnapper wastrel eight years ago, whom he has literally embraced with gritted teeth to secure his place in line.
Hillary Clinton does not look anything like those men. And neither does Barack Obama, despite Dowd's claim to the contrary:
Oddly, Barack and Michelle Obama also radiate a sense that they are owed. Not for a lifetime of sublimation and humiliation, but for this onerous campaign, for offering themselves up to save and uplift the nation, even though it disrupted their comfortable lives.Interesting calculation. Obama's wife states the obvious, that running for the presidency is a massive clusterfuck to family life and has the nerve to suggest it's something their family may not want to repeat ad infinitum, and she believes—and has the shocking audacity to state—that her husband is extremely smart, and Dowd asserts this is evidence that not only Michelle, but Barack as well, believe he is owed the presidency. Again, I would note this looks like nothing like the former and current candidates who quite genuinely convey a sense of entitlement—and professional political columnist Maureen Dowd should know that.
Michelle told Vanity Fair that Americans would have only one chance to anoint her husband, vowing "it's now or never" and explaining "there's an inconvenience factor there" and a "really, really hard" pressure and stress on the family that can only be justified if her husband can win the presidency and "change the world."
She told a group gathered at a nursing home in Grinnell on Monday that "Barack is one of the smartest people you will ever encounter who will deign to enter this messy thing called politics."
In fact, I will assert she does know that, but has chosen to ignore it in order to make "Deign or Reign?" work. Not just the pithy title, but the entire churlish concept, wrapped around the idea that Clinton and Obama believe they are owed something they are not. Dowd has delivered the talking point for every "progressive" bigot who doesn't like the idea of some uppity bitch and uppity negro thinking they're fit to run the country. It's not their failure to be white men that leaves the bad taste in the mouth; it's just their sense of entitlement, you see.
Sure, good liberals like Dowd support equality. Just as long as no one actually wants to use it or anything.