After looking in all the department stores for something nice for you, dear reader, I can do no better as a Christmas present than to quote extensively from this review by J. Peder Zane of Maureen Dowd’s new book:

“Maureen Dowd is the Joan Rivers of American journalism: a catty gossipmonger whose stock in trade is not arresting ideas but glib putdowns.

“There’s no white in her one-tone world, just black. Clinton, Bush, Gore, Kerry, Cheney and all the other victims of her poison pen are simply objects of ridicule, attacked in highly personal terms. Where Andersen’s little boy said that the emperor has no clothes, Dowd proclaims that everyone is naked….

“Dowd can turn a phrase. It’s the sentences and paragraphs that give her trouble. “Are Men Necessary” supposedly concerns the place of women in our post-feminist society. Dowd does not develop this theme through sustained argument but a series of barely connected riffs — on genetics, plastic surgery, stay-at-home moms and, most of all, the problems Pulitzer Prize-winning columnists have in finding worthy dates.”

Zane goes on to pin down the Dowd Formula:

“In fairness, Dowd is not really a social critic, but a lazy reporter with a paltry range of sources. Most of her rants begin with an article from The New York Times or The Washington Post — are they the only worthy publications in America? Then she quotes colleagues and others on these phenomena: ‘Campbell Robertson, a clever young reporter for the Times,’ or ‘Marc Santora, a 30-year-old New York Times reporter,’ or ‘Craig Bierko, who played one of Sarah Jessica Parker’s boyfriends on ‘Sex and the City.’ ‘ Then she caps it off by quoting the likes of Mary Richards, Ally McBeal, Christy Turlington or Chris Martin and his Coldplay lyrics. This approach is as tasty as a Snickers bar and just as nutritious.”

Should Joan Rivers sue Mr. Zane?