Maureen 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.
Today 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