McCain and the POW Card

Sunday, August 24, 2008

I swear on a stack of bibles that I was going to write, basically, the same column that Maureen Dowd wrote today. It’s somewhere on the loose piece of paper that comprises my collection of notes of blog post ideas. She beat me to it. Rats, in a way. But I am, for obvious reasons, much happier that she wrote it.

She is exactly right about this. At some point, John McCain has got to stop hiding behind a Vietnamese prison and take responsibility for his life after that point.

My guess is he probably can’t. And who can blame him? A searing experience like that must leave terrible mental scars. This event, coupled with his family history, raises legitimate questions about his psychological capability to run the country. Is he over his POW experience? How does it color his foreign policy thinking? Is there some hidden shame for the son of an admiral to have been a POW? Will he start World War III to make sure he’s earned Daddy’s respect?

In order to be the president of the United States, we can’t give him the benefit of the doubt on these questions. As we watch his team play the POW card every time someone questions him, the concerns will only deepen.


Maureen Dowd Hits Hillary

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Gotta love Maureen Dowd.

With today’s column, she takes on Hillary’s traitorous behavior, writing:

Obama also allowed Hillary supporters to insert an absurd statement into the platform suggesting that media sexism spurred her loss and that “demeaning portrayals of women … dampen the dreams of our daughters…

…It would have been better to put this language in the platform: “A woman who wildly mismanages and bankrupts a quarter-of-a-billion-dollar campaign operation, and then blames sexism in society, will dampen the dreams of our daughters.”

Amen, sister. Hillary simply lost to the better candidate. She didn’t lose because she’s a woman. For one thing, before this primary season, everyone hated Hillary, remember (Clintons = liberal liars)? For another, Obama’s ground campaign outclassed Hillary. And lastly, Barack Obama, despite the media memes that have been floated out there, is undoubtedly (there were 22 debates to judge him on) a deeply intelligent man who comes off as a person of sound judgment and character. I’d bet my Blackberry that he has never cheated on his wife.

Hillary may be deeply intelligent too, but the sound judgment and character thing? Not so much.

I wrote a post the other day about it being high time for the Hillary Hags to it hang it up. A commenter suggested that using the word hags was in itself sexist, but I dispute that idea. I was writing primarily about women, but certainly the same ideas apply to men. More to the point, these women have made Hillary’s loss about gender. It’s only fair to characterize these idiots with the same weapon they use against Obama, the media, me or anyone else who finds Hillary to be a loathsome politician.

You all may love your Clintons, but after Wednesday at the convention, it’s exit stage left. Barack Obama needs your vote. And if you can’t stomach that, then think of it this way: That 14 year-old girl in Alabama needs an abortion. You’re really going to pull the lever for John McCain?

If that is the case, all I can do is remind you that you are cutting off your nose to spite your face. Good luck with that.


Ranking the New York Times Columnists

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The editorial page of the New York Times is arguably the most influential in the world. Lately, I’ve begun to feel that the page has grown a little stale. In an attempt to understand why, I decided to rank the columnists who regularly appear there. This ranking system is presented beginning with the worst columnist (#11) and continues to the best (#1), and is measured on a purely subjective qualitative scale.

So, without further ado:

11. Irving Kristol’s son. This smug, lizard-faced, son-of-privilege delights in writing columns that he believes tweak the noses of the Times liberal readership. This is, as far as I can tell, his only goal. When he signed on, he was already way overexposed writing and editing for the Weekly Standard, appearing on Fox News, etc. It still remains a mystery why the NY Times felt this “useful idiot” needed another platform. A disastrous addition, expect him to be gone in one year.

10. Thomas Friedman. This self-important Iraq War supporter is responsible for foisting the worst metaphor in the history of metaphors upon an unsuspecting public with “The World is Flat.” A globalist lapdog, he is beloved by a middle-brow audience for his “Aftab Meets the Future” columns and equivocal analyses of complex situations. Rarely worth the read (now he’s going green, ugh), somehow he’s the star of the paper. He’ll be there for as long as he wants.

9. Roger Cohen. The Parisian Partisan. Combines a love of France with oddly unsexy writing. He is a longtime foreign correspondent who originally appeared as a columnist in the International Herald Tribune. His opinions reflect a bien-pensant benignity that would be right at home during cocktails at Bernard Kouchner’s. His columns are eminently skippable. Seems like a decent fellow, though.

8. Nicholas Kristof. In a word? Borrrrring. He bleeds for the world and wants you to bleed, too. Darfur, sex trafficking, the occasional toe dipped into the Middle East. Somehow he makes these topics seem even more wonkishly mind-numbing than they actually are. I appreciate the effort, I really do, but I don’t read him very often. If I’m ever feeling too pleased with life, I’ll give him a shot, but otherwise I’d sooner read the letters to the editor.

7. Charles Blow. Haven’t the faintest idea who this is. He’s listed on the website as publishing every other Saturday. I’m not sure if I’ve ever read anything he’s written.

6. David Brooks. Brooks is still capable of a broad social insight and a truly thought-provoking piece, but he might be overtaxed by the demands of the paper. He seems to want to come up with a fresh idea for every column and some of them are hurting (did you read that weird, dorky one about the magic of the Middle Ages?). That said, Brooks is a good writer and a smart guy and he should stay. Maybe just one column a week?

5. Paul Krugman. It pains me to put him here because he was, easily, the best columnist they had during the Bush years. His scalding attacks left you breathless with their intelligence, research, and evocative writing. But Krugman might be like Churchill; without a war, he’s just an irritating eccentric. Now that Bush is winding down, Krugman’s political columns have become flat and, often, misguided. Despite that, he’s got to stay, if only for his brilliant and clear writing on economics and related topics.

4. Bob Herbert. Even when he’s writing about something dull or obvious, which is fairly often, Herbert draws me in. His prose style makes convincing points without unnecessary flair and he’s capable of tugging on the heart strings. When Herbert writes about sex trafficking, you read it. He is a powerful, populist force on a sometimes sadly removed opinion page. He’s there to stay.

3. Maureen Dowd. The paper’s other big star, she’s clever as all hell and loves to show it. Plus, she’s kind of hot for an older broad. I don’t have much to complain about with Dowd, except that she’s a little bitter about men. She’s got a bead on Washington and a sense of fairness and common sense backed up by a wicked vocabulary and the tools to wield it like a knife.

2. Gail Collins. I’m surprised by this one myself. Collins used to run the page and now writes on Mondays and Thursdays. I’ve been reading her columns on the campaign and they are laugh-out-loud funny. I swear I’m on the subway snorting into my shirt. She happily deflates any political pretension and serves up a serious dose of real world perspective. She has quickly supplanted Dowd as the best (Irish-American?) woman on the page.

And, the winner is:

1. Frank Rich. Rich is always on-point, always ahead of the game, always capable of a new, interesting idea or a startling insight. His prose is accessible, but nuanced. He brings gravity and seriousness to his columns while sacrificing nothing in terms of, yes, pleasure in reading. Rich writes once a week on Sundays and this is a good perch for him. His column is the first one I check in the Week in Review.

So there you have it. My suggestion is that Andrew Rosenthal gets rid of the last five (or keep Blow, but give him real shot) and adds some fresh blood to the page. Here, as an added bonus, are my suggestions for the additions:

To fill the foreign policy hole: Tony Judt and Fareed Zakaria

To supplement internally: Michiko Kakutani (with guns blazing), Natalie Angier (they definitely need more science writing on the editorial page), Gretchen Morgenson (and good business writing too), and, if she isn’t taking a buyout and retiring forever, Linda Greenhouse.

To add a little youthful point-counterpoint: Matt Taibbi and Jonah Goldberg.

That’s it.


The Reason Great Women Can’t Find Men

Monday, April 21, 2008

This post on Slate by Mark Gimein posits that it’s a function of basic game theory. Great women hold out, waiting for the perfect man, until it’s too late and find that there are no even suitable men left – they’re either married or dead.

I know that the ratio of men to women shrinks the older we get but I don’t believe this explanation is entirely accurate for one simple reason. It assumes that all the remaining women of a certain age are “great.” Smart, beautiful, accomplished, and well-groomed.

This is a fatal flaw. I know that women are taught to positively affirm their greatness but, ladies, just because Maureen Dowd can’t get a date too, doesn’t mean you’re Maureen Dowd.

There are plenty of unsuitable women too; lazy, fat, uneducated, and unattractive. So before you start wondering why there are no good men left, you might want to ask yourself if you’re really a “great” catch.

To put a spin on Dowd… are women necessary???