Our MoDo Watch for July is up–linkable on the IWF home page! This month our own Cathy Seipp writes that the New York Times made a huge mistake when it asked Barbara Ehrenreich to share op-ed-page space with our very favorite airhead/redhead NYT columnist Maureen Dowd. Yes, Ehrenreich, author of the class warfare-provoking Nickeled and Dimed, is as far left as they come and much more radical than Maureen herself. But as Cathy points out, Ehrenreich can actually think–and write gracefully. Those are two talents the balloon-headed MoDo woefully lacks.
Indeed, Inky reader A.B. e-mails to wonder whether MoDo even exists, or whether she was by a Times op-ed editor with a perverse sense of humor:
“Sherlock Holmes once observed that ‘when you eliminate the impossible then whatever remains, no matter how unlikely, must be the truth.’
“And it is impossible that the NY Times, even today, would give the most valuable op-ed space in the world to a flibbertigibbet who writes under the name ‘Maureen Dowd.’ The incessant and stupid pop culture references, the cutsey-poo nicknames for political leaders, the insistence on filtering any issue, no matter how significant or arcane, through her personal filter…well, as I say, even today’s NY Times wouldn’t actually let someone like this write.
“Therefore, and it seems the only logical conclusion, the editorial board of the Times is playing a practical joke on its readership by presenting a parody character, a stereotype of the ‘woman writer.’ ‘Maureen Dowd’ is a construct, not an actual person. The joke is exquisitely carried out, too. I hear they’ve even hired an actress who plays Dowd (or ‘MoDo’ as we fans call her) and goes to various public functions pretending to be Maureen Dowd. Personally I think they’ve carried on the joke too long.”
Oh, no, A.B. The MoDo joke is a joke with legs. Here’s Cathy comparing Ehrenreich to Dowd:
“Consider Ehrenreich’s July 4 column, in which she links Declaration of Independence complaints about King George III (‘depriving us in many cases of Trial by Jury’) to current accusations against ‘Our George II [who] has sought to evade judicial review by hiding detainees in Guantanamo…’ And compare that to a similarly parallel-finding column Dowd wrote on June 13, which contrasted Ronald Reagan’s state funeral in Washington to Katharine Hepburn’s estate auction at Sotheby’s.
“I don’t share Ehrenreich’s opinion of President Bush or the Patriot Act, and I didn’t find her column convincing. But look, making a connection between the two Georges was a smart idea for a July 4 piece. Ehrenreich is also a competent enough debater to anticipate and address objections by the fourth graph — ‘It would be silly, of course, to overstate the parallels between 1776 and 2004,’ she writes, discussing the differences before returning to the parallels — something Dowd never respects her readers enough to do.
“Ronald Reagan and Katharine Hepburn, though…what on earth does a strained connection between them (and there really is no connection, other than that they both lived long lives, worked in Hollywood and recently died) have to do with anything?
“Nothing, except that they both happened to catch Dowd’s fancy that week.”
Sorry, but “Maureen Dowd” is too rich a spoof in my book for the NYT ever to kill.