Maureen Dowd’s Courageous Clarity on Obama White House

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Maureen Dowd.jpgMaureen Dowd has somehow inspired an industry of folks who really dislike her work as an essayist. I ran into this when I wrote approvingly of an incredible Inauguration party she hosted at her home and which I attended. It was her “Star Spangled Inauguration Party”, and I wore a star spangled tie.
Despite a big chunk of Hollywood there, no one dressed festively — but I have to give credit to Maureen (who wanted the tie), Ron Howard, David Geffen, Jeremy Lingvall, Helene Cooper, Larry King (who also wanted the tie), Rahm Emanuel and others who chatted with me without making me feel uncomfortable at all for wearing a red, white and blue accessory.
I stand by my statement then that Dowd’s gathering was the best in town — and stand by my admiration of her work.
steve clemons flag tie twn.jpgToday in the New York Times, Maureen Dowd shows why she is such a key part of high quality political journalism. In a piece titled “Thanks for the Memories,” she punished the Obama administration for its worse than shoddy treatment of White House Counsel Greg Craig — when it would have been quite easy for her to hold back and be part of the acquiescent political glitterati that throws soft balls at the White House and gets invited to State Dinners.
What I liked about Dowd’s treatment of Craig, which I write about extensively here at The Daily Beast, is that she is no great fan of Greg Craig’s but writes dispassionately about what crap he got — and shouldn’t have — from Obama’s highest level apparatchiks. She thought Craig took some perhaps inappropriate or low blow shots during the campaign at Hillary Clinton, a former friend of Craig’s, but admired him for his passion and not running from what he did.
Dowd is right about Greg Craig being a stand up guy — and being someone who has helped Barack Obama more than most on his team get through some rough campaign patches and pushing an agenda on detainees and transparency consistent with the President’s own promises.
But some extra back story I have makes Dowd’s essay even more commendable.
She published this on the day of the first White House State Dinner. I was listening to the conversation when Rahm Emanuel told David Geffen and his partner, Jeremy Lingvall, that they could both come to a State Dinner in their own right and bring their own guests — winking at Maureen Dowd.
In other words, the power twosome of Geffen/Lingvall could possibly become a power foursome — with Maureen Dowd and someone else (me perhaps?! Ron Howard?).
Who knows if Emanuel remembered his proposed scheme to get them all into a State Dinner or not.
What matters is that Maureen Dowd, whether she thought she’d be at this first State Dinner or many other Obama galas in the future, is still pushing the Obama administration in the way stand up journalists should — and she has my respect and that of many others for doing so.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

30 comments on “Maureen Dowd’s Courageous Clarity on Obama White House

  1. LInda says:

    POA,
    Yeah, Robert Scheer’s departure was just the beginning of the still continuing sellouts, buyouts, firings, etc. at LAT.
    Long before AOL bought Time Warner, Ted Turner made his biggest mistake of selling CNN and losing control of it.
    Outrageous<
    I’d add Jitlada in Hollywood for Thai food, especially the untranslated menu. But there is so much more still to love about LA including the climate, Disney Hall, Bradbury Building, Gustavo Dudamel, coffee with the old time regulars from 7-9 a.m. at Farmers Market before it officially opens, and much more.
    It’s also great because one can have big city, beach, mountains, and desert all within 1-2 hours. There was a time when that was only one hour, and soon it will need to be within three hours.
    LAT had a very witty op-ed by Brad Dickson on Thursday. This was my favorite from it:
    “I’m thankful that the Los Angeles Marathon was won in a record 2 hours, 8 minutes, which is faster than I’ve ever driven 26 miles in Los Angeles.”

    Reply

  2. Outraged American says:

    Sorry Nadine, my mistake. My husband worked for Time Warner
    after AOL was marginalized, so I always think of Time Warner as
    the powerhouse.
    I do remember at the time of the merger thinking that it was a
    really stupid thing to do. Right after that I started working with a
    talent management/ movie company trying to create original,
    internet content and develop a way to monetize it. We had some
    of the biggest actors and musical stars in the world, and some
    blockbusters in the pipeline, and still couldn’t find a way to
    make money off of original content.
    It’s odd, but I suggested back then what I’m seeing done now —
    hire talented directors to create mini-movie/ sitcom ads for the
    internet — ads that people will want to click on because they’re
    entertaining. I was ignored then and our division of the
    company was closed, but it’s happening now.
    Frankly, this topic is so immense it gives me a headache. I’m
    middle-aged, but surrounded by much younger people. Their
    ideas of, and ways of, distributing entertainment and
    information change by the minute, it goes so fast.
    I honestly don’t think that the entertainment industry or the
    news media can keep-up. It’s a combination of rapid
    technological advances and a totally different approach to media
    whether it be entertainment or news. The latter of which I find
    very few of the young ‘uns interested in, and I’ve had many
    interns from the best schools in this country including Columbia
    and NYU journalism schools.
    Studies have proven that kids who have grown-up since the
    advent of personal computers/ the internet literally have
    different brains than people who read from paper, and actually
    had to go outside to play ball rather than Wii a virtual tennis
    game. In addition, they have much shorter attention spans and I
    can see it in my interns, who are all very high-achievers.
    It does make be despair. On the bright side, the internet has
    democratized both entertainment and news. If Ms. Dowd were
    starting out today it would be immediately apparent that there
    are about a million better writers within five miles of the Times
    building, much less the world.
    Here’s an article on how Murdoch helped push/ threaten Blair
    into backing the Iraq invasion (not that Blair shouldn’t be on trial
    at the Hague)
    From the UK Independent:
    The real reasons why Blair went to war
    If the latest Iraq inquiry wants to find out why Tony Blair took us
    to war it need question only four witnesses. They are Iain
    Duncan Smith, Rupert Murdoch, Neil Kinnock and Michael Foot.
    EXCERPT
    The political calculation was therefore straightforward. As far as
    Blair was concerned, if he had opposed the war he would have
    destroyed the New Labour coalition and given up vital ground to
    the Conservatives. Rupert Murdoch’s newspapers were a key
    factor in this respect. Murdoch was a passionate supporter of
    Bush’s foreign policy. Blair knew Murdoch would have switched
    his newspapers’ support to the Conservatives if he had sided
    with the loathed Chirac and Shroeder in opposition to the war. In
    its 2005 election endorsement for Labour The Sun backed Blair
    for a single reason – his support for Bush in Iraq.
    WHOLE ARTICLE
    http://tinyurl.com/ybyll32
    Yes Linda, last time I was in LA, in May, we stopped by Monte
    Alban only to see that the strip mall had been burned and it was
    closed. So was Super Taco, which had the best habanero sauce
    — well it had a great hot sauce bar in general- and really good
    tacos al pastor & carne asada for like $1.50. Sigh.
    But Soot Bull Jeep is still open in Koreatown and Puro Sabor in
    Van Nuys. Two reasons to make the trip back to LA, the only
    reasons. Food.

    Reply

  3. PissedOffAmerican says:

    The handwriting was on the wall when the Los Angeles Times dumped Robert Scheer and started running with that asshole Max Boot.

    Reply

  4. nadine says:

    “That being said, this whole panic about India overtaking the US
    does remind me of the hype when Time Warner bought AOL. ”
    Time Warner never bought AOL. AOL bought Time Warner. It was at the height of its dotcom bubble market cap.

    Reply

  5. Linda says:

    Outraged,
    Perhaps more newspapers need to do what St. Pete Times did and be non-profit sponsored. Investigative reporting seems to be going that way with Pro Publica,etc. though sad that Sandlers made their money by starting the sub-prime debacle.
    Long before Pearl covered his last beat, during the Afghan-USSR war Mary Williams Walsh wrote beautiful excellent coverage for WSJ but quit WSJ. If you don’t know the story, you can find it in the Columbia Review of Journalism around 1989-90. And that was long before Murdoch. Probably my favorite though was Mark Fritz whose writing on
    Rwanda for AP was incredibly good as well as his book, “Nomads of the Earth.”
    Somebody has to pay their brave people to tell us the truth as they see it as Johnny Apple did in Vietnam. And saddest of all is the large number of journalists who have died covering Iraq and Afghan wars.
    I loved Monte Alban and didn’t know it had burned down. LA definitely is the place in US to sample more international cuisines than anywhere else.

    Reply

  6. Outraged American says:

    One of my old schoolmates actually covers the media beat for
    the New York Times. DO NOT BLAME HIM FOR ME AND MY
    VIEWS. He’s a lovely guy and one of the smartest people I’ve
    ever met.
    Anyway, we just had our reunion in May, so I got him to talk to
    my interns, two of whom are foolhardy enough to actually want
    to become journalists. I’ve told them “fine” but make sure and
    get a day job, like plumber or dental hygenist or bricklayer or
    one of the five that can’t be outsourced to India.
    Although, India’s getting too big for her britches or rather, saris,
    soon she’s going to be outsourcing call centers to us, and we’ll
    have to make-up Indian names and attempt Indian accents to
    deal with customers calling from Bangalore for computer advice.
    That being said, this whole panic about India overtaking the US
    does remind me of the hype when Time Warner bought AOL.
    One needs less than a minute in India to realize that it’s going to
    be decades if not centuries before that country will get it
    together enough to do anything beyond holding a “democratic”
    election.
    India is chaos.
    Anyway, I didn’t stick around to hear what words of wisdom my
    schoolmate imparted to my interns, too busy getting drunk, but
    from talking to them later it sounded like he was not too
    optimistic about the future of journalism.
    I also have a school friend who was working at one of the LA
    Times local bureaus in the San Gabriel Valley and she lost her
    job when they shut that down.
    Very sad — and that’s the whole thing with media consolidation
    — we no longer have freedom of the press, and very little local
    coverage. Instead we have Murdoch the bulldog, and others of
    his ilk, relentlessly pushing their agendas. The 1996
    Telecommunications Act would have made our Founding Fathers
    roll in their graves. Bill Clinton, I’m looking at you.
    I used to read the WSJ: if you stayed away from the editorial
    page a lot of the reporting was excellent, but that was years
    ago. Daniel Pearl used to do a great job covering South Asia,
    poor guy. He was a very talented writer IMO.
    I have just never laughed out loud at Dowd’s columns when I
    have at Collins, which I think have greater depth.
    And in terms of the NYT, it’s no longer the paper of record, if it
    ever truly was. I know that Keller wasn’t there in the run-up to
    our second Iraq invasion, but I don’t trust that guy, and the
    Times coverage of Iran often makes me want to rip my hair out
    it’s so full of falsehoods.
    Totally OT, but Linda if you’re ever back in LA there’s this small,
    clean, cheap, excellent restaurant called Monte Alban, it’s
    Oaxacan, which has been voted 10 best Mexican in LA because
    of its mole and goat stew.
    It burned down, but I think the owners are restarting it. It used
    to be near the intersection of Santa Monica and Bundy in West
    LA.
    Your Thanksgiving menu sounds mouthwatering.
    I’m actually having my oldest nieces and nephews over for a
    post- Thanksgiving meal. They’re like ants at a picnic so I
    doubt even the cats will survive their onslaught. I always feel so
    let-down after the holidays, that I like to stretch it out, so I think
    that lady in Rhode Island’s idea is great.

    Reply

  7. DonS says:

    Thanks Paul. We did do the d’Orsay a couple of days ago and you are so right. It is a bit under change right now but wonderful.

    Reply

  8. Mr.Murder says:

    Didn’t Craig use Dowd to snipe Clinton his fair share of times early in the campaign?

    Reply

  9. Linda says:

    Outraged,
    My friends and family all know that I always say the same thing when we go around the table to say what we are thankful for: The First Amendment–so today I worry much more about the survival of NYT–not for editorial and op-ed pages but to just have one quality national newspaper with lots of bureaus around the country and the world.
    WaPo is closing its remaining bureaus in NYC, LA, and Chicago. LA Times was on the brink of becoming a national paper with a West Coast point of view until the Trib Company and Sam Zell destroyed that possibility. WSJ is far from a national newspaper, and I don’t want to see any more U.S. newspapers owned by Rupert Murdoch!
    I agree with you about most other Indian sweets except gulab jamun that isn’t served as it was at an elegant (long gone) LA Indian restaurant that embellished it with edible gold leaf designs. But nobody does that any more, probably because gold is too expensive. WH pastry and candy chefs could do that.
    We decided next year to repeat one of our favorite Thanksgivings that you might like–very picante because turkeys also are from Mexico where they do them with mole sauce–and we also do a winter fruit salsa. Start with Mexican pumpkin soup or cilantro corn chowder, sweet potatoes with a honey-lime-chile glaze, cornbread with jalapenos, sweet potato flan.
    I just made myself a bit nauseous as I am too stuffed to think about food.
    But actually my favorite article in the NYT this week was in the Wednesday food section. Making Thanksgiving Leftovers the Main Event – NYTimes.com I’m never sure how links will come out when I post one as I just tried to do. Actually the article in the print newspaper was cleverly titled, “Remains of the Day.” It’s about a wonderful woman in Rhode Island who has been holding a “Save the Best for Last” potluck party on the Saturday after Thanksgiving for the past ten years. It’s a terrific idea for everybody. The hostess doesn’t have to cook, and everybody gets rid of all their leftovers.
    Probably time to get back on topic at TWN and stop turning it into Epicurious.com.

    Reply

  10. Paul Norheim says:

    Don,
    a tete a tete in Paris would be great. I think it would have taken a couple of hours from here by plane…
    Unfortunately, I`m busy right now.
    If you`re not tired of museums, the impressionist Musée d`Orsay (I think that`s the name) is really
    worth a look. The Louvre is almost too much… In any case, enjoy the food and the wine!

    Reply

  11. DonS says:

    Paul, “surely I would have thought you would have hopped over to Paris . . .” Ah, le vin.

    Reply

  12. DonS says:

    A bunch of apologies: I attributed a question of OA’s to POA, subliminally or otherwise. Who can keep track? Now I’ll revert upthread where
    Steve is giving warm huggies to our president. BTW, Paul, surely I would have hoped over to Paris for a tete a tete. Norway is on the list of place not yet visited.

    Reply

  13. Outraged American says:

    Steve seems genuine – the one time I spoke with him about an
    interview he was a really, nice, decent guy. You get a huge
    bullshiite meter going when you work in Hollywood and in news.
    Steve doesn’t ping mine at all, I’m actually amazed at his candor
    and at the risks he takes. Ms. Dowd does.
    I like Gail Collins and I’m glad she’s writing again. I don’t know if
    you’ve read this already Linda, but I got a chance to question Bill
    Keller, editor-in-chief or executive editor or something of the
    New York Times, in May of 2005. I asked him if the New York
    Times would be honest about Iran and Syria like they weren’t on
    Iraq and he said that they would be much more careful.
    But Keller rang my Tool o’ Meter, and the women I was sitting
    next to said that they’d been in the same class as him and he
    was a tool way back in college.
    Also Linda, since it is FOOD DAY, so we can go OT, I meant to
    tell you that there are really easy recipes for Gulab Jamuns
    online. They’re easy to make. You can whip some up before T-
    day dinner, maybe. I hate them, but I hate all Indian sweets.
    Might as well mainline sugar with some cardamon thrown in. If
    you like them you should try burfi, kulfi and ladoos.
    Indian restaurants are rubbish. The only place one will ever get
    good Indian food is in a home. I think Obama made a huge
    gaffe, and it also begs the question, why serve Indian food to
    Indians? They probably wanted a cheeseburger, which used to
    be truly hard to get in India. If Obama really wanted to repair
    relations with India he should have snuck Singh around the back
    and offered him In’ N’ Out on the downlow.
    Now I’m off to eat some oxtail soup, a traditional Anglo-Indian
    dish, although who knows where we got the oxtails from in
    India given the holy cow situation. Seriously, forget turkey.
    Anglo Indian oxtail done correctly — it’s easy and very
    nutritious, but it takes very slow cooking – is a taste bomb.
    Especially if you throw in a habanero and serve it with sticky
    rice. I also pour my favorite Mexican hot sauce into my own
    personal serving. SO GOOD.
    I HATED French food, but then I grew-up eating curry for
    breakfast, with jalapenos on the side…
    Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

    Reply

  14. Linda says:

    Don,
    Paris is, as Hemingway said, “a moveable feast!
    Enjoy the escargot, duck confit or whatever Parisian feast! Bon appetit!

    Reply

  15. DonS says:

    With regard to Linda’s comment, which must have gone up when I was typing, of course it’s hard, and ‘unprofessional’ to diagnose from a distance. And I don’t find diagnostic categories all that helpful except as another tool to help understand individuals, but they have been misused to label people, sometimes for a lifetime. Also, I’m recently retired from that profession.
    However, with everybody and their uncle throwing around terms llke “bipolar”, ADHD, PTSD, etc., psychological lingo creeps into the popular jargon. And far from being an actual diagnosis it is also unhelpful to characterize behavior, individually or systemically (yes, systems can and do reflect disease), as normal or healthy, especially when the results are anything but acceptable within a healthy system.

    Reply

  16. DonS says:

    POA, we are out enjoying Paris and have only reinforced the observations of a week or so ago that the security levels are way down. As for making amends for ‘freedom fries’, there seems almost a tacit understanding that many Americans who visit here are embarrassed by our government, or maybe that’s just projection on my part.
    As to the psychological state of [too many] politicos, one could certainly surmise that narcissistic personality traits are way up there, although two or three minutes in their presence would probably clinch the opinion. Psychologists are not quite in agreement as to what constitutes the underlying cause of personality disorders other than to note the behavioral traits, but to make an actual diagnosis of a disorder, one of the required findings must be that the ‘behavior’ leads to ‘distress’, that is, causes problems in the individual’s life.
    Now this may well be the case with many politicos — certainly in the realm of difficulties in interpersonal relationships — but with so many people dying to suck up, how would you ever know? Additionally, most politicos would probably be defined as ‘high functioning’ so, even if they had a full blown disorder, they would be able to mask the symptoms in most situations. Perhaps equally sad is the recognition that such individuals come to be defined as successful within the prevailing structure, reinforcing a notion of normal that is actually destructive. Kind of like the anorexic supermodel.
    Now it’s time to go out and get a nice, though not expensive bottle of beaujolais nouveau for the evening — the 2009 vintage has just been released this week it seems. We haven’t been museum hounds, but have selected a few very nice ones to visit, e.g., the Cluny, which is a smallish museum with an incredible collection of medieval art, glass and artifacts housed in a combination of “Gallo-Roman ruins incorporated into a medieval mansion” around the 14th century.
    Final word, from this distance the stupidity of American politics and foreign policy burns even more, if that’s possible. It would help if all these people getting shafted by the insiders, like Craig, rather than going quietly into some sinecure, or falling on their sword, would blow the cover of ‘the system’. As it is, those who protest the system are treated as rogues and unserious, like Hoh, And Alan Grayson (on some issues). Meanwhile, the establishment tip toes around them like tiptoeing around a pile of dog shit carrying a perfumed hankie.

    Reply

  17. Linda says:

    Dan, Don, and Outraged,
    I think DonS is correct that C. Wright Mills is worth a read or re-read because the sociology of the power elite has always been there. We ordinary folks are just more exposed to it because of media explosion 24/7 than when Mills wrote his book.
    It’s always been there, and just as part of the public is attracted to movie stars obsessively, most of us, to a greater or lesser degree, are interested in something of the private lives of “important people.” There always were gossip columns in major papers in the old days that were nationally syndicated–Walter Winchell, Sheila Graham, etc.
    Outraged, I also recall that DonS is a mental health prfoessional, and I am one too though retired. So we aren’t going to make diagnoses. like Narcissistic Personality Disorder. or apply them to politicians or people we’ve never met or whose personal histories we don’t know. We can guess, as any intelligent literate person who can read the diagnostic criteria, about who may or may not fit and be in that category.
    As a rule, I’ve always told friends who come to me with your question that it’s not a good idea to try to diagnose friends, co-workers, public figures. The diagnostic categories are mainly used for billing purposes and have limited scientific vertification–just a reflection of how little we know about classifying “pathologic” behvior. Look at the history of how homosexuality has been classified over the years. When they are applied to public political figures that way, they usually are applied to the politicians one opposes.
    The temptation to apply them is great because they do explain patterns of behavior that broadly are easy to recognize, i.e., they are describing something real.
    Dan, I belive that Steve and Dowd are capturing something a little different about Greg Craig situation. In DC, as well as any workplace or other group setting, people get reputations that usually are accurate. And Greg Craig always has been known as a gentleman whose work and integrity have been at the highest level.
    I am not a DC insider at all, but I had read a lot about Craig over the years–just Wiki him for a pretty good summary. Notice that in all this recent mess, he has been dignified and pretty much silent observing what my mother taught me: “If you can’t say anything good/nice about someone, say nothing.” Craig is doing that now, and he’s probably better at following my mother’s advice than I am.
    Within DC’s strange world to many of us, there are people who are known to be just exactly what they are and not phony–respected because they are consistently who they are and nice people. Steve is one such person, and so is Dowd. They give us their opinions as columnists and bloggers. And those opinions change over time and circumstances. They are just calling things and calling out people as they see them each in their own way.
    If I claim authority on anything, it is NYT columnists because I pay a small fortune for a daily subscription. This has come up before on TWN, and my impression is that many here read it for free on-line. In recent years I consider this to be a “charitable contribution” that is not tax-deductible. I have opinions about all the columnists–and none of them write great columns twice a week, week after week. While I seldom agreed with him, I still miss Safire because IMO he was consistently the best writer.
    Everyone of the NYT op-ed columnists achieved that position from already having a reputation as a journalist, academic ot whatever, and that includes Dowd whose columns vary in quality as much as anyone else.
    Dan, what surprised me about your comment is that you totally ignore Gail Collins who also writes NYT column. I happen to prefer her to Dowd, and Collins is my favorite of the current NYT op-ed columnists. Collins is often very witty in a more subtle way and surely is not a lightweight.
    Anyhow reading columns is like eating. We all have a right to our own tastes. I like to sample a big menu on both.
    So whether you are having turkey, ham, or tofurky today, enjoy it!

    Reply

  18. jon says:

    It seems that the real news here is that Dowd’s koolaid is
    extremely tasty. Steve, you need to get out of the Village a little
    more often.
    I’m sure that Dowd is clever and gracious, and a sparkling
    hostess and an ornament to any gathering. That’s not the point.
    She uses her column, and social position, to enforce a
    mendacious groupthink, which is more about maintaining the
    power and status of those currently influential in Washington.
    Her writing and thinking does not withstand protracted
    inspection.
    Steve, for all your ‘radical centrist’ posturing, you should be
    overjoyed at how Obama is governing, and the policy decisions
    his administration is implementing. Or not implementing. From
    where I stand, they have done a feeble and halting job of
    reversing course from many of W’s most disastrous deciderings.
    I am frankly shocked at Obama’s (and Congress’) timidity,
    particularly on financial services regulation, the stimulus, and on
    health care.
    I’m all in favor of an adversarial press, and a full airing of crucial
    issues. But that’s not what Dowd is doing.

    Reply

  19. jonst says:

    Steve,
    With no sarcasm intended…is this post of yours a parody? An inside the beltway joke on yourself and Villagers? Cause if it is it is worthy of Mark Twain.

    Reply

  20. Outraged American says:

    I think that politicians and others in “power” suffer from the
    same Narcissistic Personality Disorder that actors do.
    I’ve heard the saying, “Washington is Hollywood for ugly people”
    and would just add “ugly people with bombs.”
    Here’s the definition of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. All the
    congresspeople (McCain, Shadegg, Kyl, Berman, Sherman,
    Harman, Waxman, Feinstein….) whose reichs I’ve lived under fit
    this bill of mental non-health:
    http://www.mentalhealth.com/dis/p20-pe07.html
    DonS, didn’t you say you had a background in mental health?
    What do you think?
    And why aren’t you out enjoying Paris, handing lollipops and
    chocolate bars wrapped in American flags out to little French
    kids in hopes of making up for all the “freedom fries” nonsense
    before Iraq Part Two?
    Dowd annoys me, I don’t find her humorous or informative. I
    think she coasted on her looks. Gail Collins is much funnier.
    There are now, because of the internet, tens of thousands of
    people in the US alone speaking real truth to power with at least
    as much finesse and accuracy as Ms. Dowd, and at much greater
    risk. She’s no profile in courage IMO, just another cocktail
    sucking hack.

    Reply

  21. Dan Kervick says:

    Steve, this is the second time you have discussed this issue at length, but without getting into any of the policy substance. I know you have some canny insider readers who follow the daily White House gossip and are able to interpret all of your winks and guarded innuendo, but personally, I have not the slightest idea what you and Dowd are talking about. Do you think you might let us in on it some day, and slip out of your occasional Tinseltown Tattler mode back down onto the policy beat?
    I don’t know Greg Craig from Adam. I don’t know many specifics about what he did in his former job, and don’t know anything about which of his actions, specifically, the people who had him fired opposed. I also don’t know anything about how the policies he was in charge of handling are likely to change now that he is gone. Do you think you could share some of this information with us?
    All I can tell is that Craig apparently has some friends among the sets in which you and Dowd move. I can see the feathers ruffling and tongues wagging, and I can hear the clucks, but I don’t understand what all the fuss is about.
    As for Dowd, she is a lightweight, and the column you linked to is her usual concoction of emptiness. I did learn that Dowd apparently has some friend who sits in the back of the room at Cabinet meetings, and wishes they would serve water or coffee. I suppose we must truly be living in a post-Feminist era, given that someone like Dowd is awarded an op-ed column in the NY Times opinion section, while women of intellectual substance, who value their heads more as the places they keep their well-developed brains than as pretty stumps to cover with lipstick and hair dye, are denied. The existence of that column is an insult to intelligent women everywhere. I suspect we each know at least ten women who could write a more thoughtful and substantive column on national policy than the country gets from Dowd. On the other hand, they might not be able to give us the identity of Caroline Kennedy’s caterer.

    Reply

  22. bob h says:

    In the Summer of 2001, just before 9/11, Dowd wrote a column decrying the way Bush was delegating his Presidency. That proved prescient, but honestly I have not found anything else of hers since worth remembering, and think she has lost the plot.
    I remember Craig, who managed Clinton’s impeachment defense, saying on Inauguration Day that he was going to have to fight back the tears as Obama took the oath. He was so dedicated to Obama. The slippage on Guantanamo does not seem like a big deal to me, so I am bewildered by his resignation.

    Reply

  23. DonS says:

    My base contention is that politicians start out being egomaniacs, some more and some less attractive. Those who involve themselves in their world do so at their peril if they expect to find a code of conduct more than ‘honor among thieves’. Surely we should have learned that over decades of observing many administrations in action.
    Perhaps it is simply the distance from the lives, expectations and behaviors of ‘normal’ people that is somehow to blame. I’ll never know, but I am pretty sure that few ‘normal’ people will ever get a chance to provide ‘normal’ feedback to Obama (or another president), or that he could internalize such information in a ‘normal’ way. Maybe Michelle, but she is wrapped up in other layers of drama that disqualify her.
    C.Wright Mills had this all figured out in the 60’s in a book called “The Power Elite”, although he came at the mutually reinforcing distortion (of politicians, military, and theatrical types) more from a sociological that a psychological perspective. One way or another, especially in America, the whole inbred mass is driven by the allure of influence and money, either presently or in the future.
    What interests me is how these otherwise seemingly human-resembling creatures can sublimate the limitations of the psyche so successfully that they think th and do make decisions, or avoid decisions, involving the lives and fortunes of the rest of us. this obscene Including this obscene delusion of making war under the perverted pretext that it is somehow really about fostering greater peace.
    So while Craig got it in the neck in a way he may well not have deserved, the saddest thing I can find is that it is neither aberrational nor likely to be instructive as far as recognizing the sickness that the perpetrators seem addicted to. Maybe for the rest of us; but not for the players.

    Reply

  24. Dave Huntsman says:

    How is she a ‘journalist’? I thought she simply wrote opinion pieces.
    What does she investigate?

    Reply

  25. Panskeptic says:

    Can anyone remember an administration that didn’t give the heave-ho to someone or other when they no longer suit?
    And how we criticize those administrations that refuse to (“You did a great job, Brownie”)!
    It’s a damned if you do, damned if you don’t do situation, for those who chatter and bleat and bore.
    However, I must say I stopped reading Maureen Dowd a long while back because all too often, she offers the Olympian contemplation and sublime wisdom of the Alpha Girls’ lunch table in a high school cafeteria. Snarky only gets you so far, for writers of any political hue.

    Reply

  26. JA says:

    I’m unhappy on how Craig went down, but that doesn’t mean that I give free praise to anyone who agrees with my position. Dowd often uses innuendo, is a lazy researcher, is dishonest in her portrayals… basically she constructs her columns so she can influence people to think about an issue as she wants them to. She’s a hack, and I’m not going to praise her after years of her being an embarrassment just because she agrees with me.

    Reply

  27. JohnH says:

    Craig suffered the same fate as many of those who helped him get elected–they served as condoms to be used and then discarded.
    Obama is not the first or last Democrap to stiff the base…

    Reply

  28. tib says:

    “Stand up guy” is not the usual appellation for a
    lawyer who is willing to use his privileged position
    to publicly trash a former client and employer.
    Maybe that is the reporter’s meaning of the
    phrase, a source who is willing to dish dirt.
    Put yourself in Obama’s position, he was
    obligated to Mr. Craig for his service in the
    campaign and he rewarded him with a prominent
    position. Mr. Craig then failed in his primary
    duties with regard to Guantanamo, but given his
    demonstrated penchant for turning against his
    bosses he would have to be both removed and
    rendered not credible.
    The notion that assassination by leak is a
    departure for Barack Obama is contradicted by
    the fact that he was happy to use Mr. Craig to tear
    down Hillary Clinton. Campaign hagiography
    notwithstanding, Obama is one of the most skilled
    “dark side” practitioners since Nixon.

    Reply

  29. Susie Madrak says:

    I don’t know, Steve. Based on what you wrote, I gave Dowd’s piece a read, and it sounds to me like she’s using Craig’s ouster as a cover story for her usual pitbull-like fixation on the Clintons. She manages to get digs in at both Hillary and Bill, which probably made her day. It simply isn’t worthy of our attention, let alone praise.

    Reply

  30. John Waring says:

    Speaking of standing up, perhaps the Congress of the United States can have real hearings on, and real debates over, the implications the president’s Afghan decision may have on his domestic agenda.
    And on the bond markets.
    Congressman Obey did set the stage.
    No softballs, please.

    Reply

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