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Sunday, October 20, 2002

We Aim To Please With "Post-Relevant" Maureen Dowd

Business first: Josh Chafetz has a Weekly Standard piece which, in his estimation, needs google-bombing. Very well: go check out "The Immutable Laws of Maureen Dowd."

Next, constructive comments on Josh's article: The best point is made early:

"THE FIRST IMMUTABLE LAW OF DOWD: The first and most important rule is what might be termed the People magazine principle: All political phenomena can be reduced to caricatures of the personalities involved. Any reference to policy concerns or even to old-fashioned politicking is, like, so passé. And, of course, with every caricature goes a nickname.

The First Law is the reason that Dowd used to be so much fun to read--it's the reason she won the 1999 Pulitzer for her columns on the Lewinsky scandal. The Lewinsky scandal was all about personality; more than that, it was about personalities that lent themselves to caricature. So when Dowd wrote about President Clinton ("the Grand Canyon of need") and Monica Lewinsky (the "relentless" woman "clinging to some juvenile belief that the President loved her") and Linda Tripp (who "rides on a broomstick") and Ken Starr (a "sex addict"), it just seemed apt.

The problem is, the nation now has matters of life and death to attend to. But Dowd is still drawing caricatures..."

Not to say the remaining four laws are not apt, but the first is so true that the remainder pale. Anyway, five immutable laws of Dowd? Why not call them "Juris Dowd", shortened to JuDo? Just who is off-balance, or left on the mat, is for the reader to decide.

Ok, on to the most recent MoDo column. Josh wonders about this passage:

"I am the chairman of your Defense Policy Board," an amused Richard Perle replied. "I am an adviser to Rumsfeld, a friend of Wolfowitz's and a thorn in Powell's medals. Je suis un gourmand, Monsieur le President. I have always dreamed of opening a chain of fast-food soufflé shops based on a machine that would automatically separate eggs, beat the yolks and combine them with hot milk and sugar, add the desired flavorings, whip the whites until stiff, fold them into the mixture and bake in individual pots without human intervention. Then conveyor belts would bring the glass-enclosed ovens to the table and patrons would get to see their meals rise. I've never found investors smart enough to realize the dazzling ingenuity of the Perle Soufflé Doctrine. Meanwhile, I'm killing time trying to get your foreign policy to rise. I'm known as the Prince of Darkness."

Does anyone have any idea what the joke is meant to be here? Did Perle once say "You can't make an omelette without breaking eggs?" Josh and I are at sea with this one.

Finally, my own criticism of the latest MoDo piece. My impression is that even Bush's critics have recognized that he has an extraordinary memory for the faces and names of people he has met. So, if a caricature is meant to distort recognizable characteristics, what is up with the intro to the passage above, where Bush does not even recognize Richard Perle?

"The Boy Emperor was starting to feel bamboozled by his war tutors. He needed a fresh perspective. There was a guy on TV with a round face and deep voice running around Provence, London and Berlin, where he suggested Schröder resign. He was pre-eminent on pre-emption. The Boy summoned him to explain the Bush doctrine.

"Do I know you?" he asked his visitor.

"I am the chairman of your Defense Policy Board," an amused Richard Perle replied."

Just wondering. I know, I am looking for logic in all the wrong places, but still.

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