Why Can’t Maureen Dowd Quit With The Sexism?

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Yeesh. I mostly agree with her recent NYT column (I’ll post it below in full text for those who haven’t seen it), but why, why, why does she have to refer to Condi Rice as a “tough, by-any-means-necessary superbabe”? And why do we need to read about Rice’s clothing in the form of Dowd’s aside that: “Condi was as cool as ever in the State Department briefing room yesterday, perfectly groomed in a camel-colored suit with an athletic white stripe”? That Condi is probably on a fool’s errand is not a function of her gender, in my opinion, but obviously Dowd disagrees. Here is the column:

As USA Today noted about summer movies, the hot trend in heroines”is not the damsel in distress. It’s the damsel who causes distress.”

Uma, Oprah. Oprah, Condi.

The more W. and his tough, by-any-means-necessary superbabe have tried to tame the Middle East, the more inflamed the Middle East has become. Now the secretary of state is leaving, reluctantly and belatedly, to do some shuttle diplomacy that entails little diplomacy and no shuttling. It’s more like air-guitar diplomacy.

Condi doesn’t want to talk to Hezbollah or its sponsors, Syria and Iran :”Syria knows what it needs to do,” she says with asperity : and she doesn’t want a cease-fire. She wants”a sustainable cease-fire,” which means she wants to give the Israelis more time to decimate Hezbollah bunkers with the precision-guided bombs that the Bush administration is racing to deliver.

“I could have gotten on a plane and rushed over and started shuttling, and it wouldn’t have been clear what I was shuttling to do,”she said.

Keep more civilians from being killed? Or at least keep America from being even more despised in the Middle East and around the globe?

Like Davy Jones, the octopus-headed creature who had to keep sailing Flying Dutchman-like without getting to land in the new”Pirates of the Caribbean,” Condi had a hard time finding an Arab port in which to dock.

The Arab street, declared prematurely dead by the neocons after the Iraq invasion, is so incensed over scenes of mass graves, homeless children and Israeli ground incursions into Lebanon that Egypt spurned Ms. Rice’s bid to meet next week in Cairo. (Her only consolation is that at least the autocratic Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak, is listening to the Arab street as she has been harping on him to do for more than a year.)

The Arab allies, who agreed to meet her and European envoys in Rome, clearly did not want to be used as a stalling tactic on Arab turf, with Condi miming diplomacy to buy time for Israel. Maybe, like Jack Sparrow, they can at least bring a jar of Arab turf with them.

In a twist that illustrated the growing power of Shiites and Iranians, even the Shiite Iraqi prime minister broke with the Bush stance and denounced Israeli attacks on Lebanon. Is there no honor among puppets?

Condi was as cool as ever in the State Department briefing room yesterday, perfectly groomed in a camel-colored suit with an athletic white stripe. Like her boss, she does not show any sign of tension over the fact that all of their schemes to democratize the Middle East ended up creating more fundamentalism, extremism, terrorism and anti-Americanism. Having ginned up the idea that Al Qaeda was state-sponsored terrorism backed by Saddam, now W. and Condi have to contend with the specter of real state-sponsored terrorism.

Like a professor who has grown so frustrated with one misbehaving student that she turns her focus on another, Condi put aside the sulfurous distraction of Iraq and enthused over the need to make the fragile democracy in Lebanon a centerpiece of the”new Middle East.”

She said that the carnage there represented the”birth pangs of a new Middle East, and whatever we do we have to be certain that we are pushing forward to the new Middle East, not going back to the old one.”Yet everything in the Middle East seems to be reeling backward in a scary way, and neocons are once more mocking W. as a wimp who should blow off the State Department and blow up Syria and Iran.

Having inadvertently built up Iran with his failures in Iraq, W. is eager now to send Iran a shock-and-awe message through Israel.

The Bush counselor Dan Bartlett told The Washington Post that the president”mourns the loss of every life, yet out of this tragic development he believes a moment of clarity has arrived.”

W. continues to present simplicity as clarity. When will he ever learn that clarity is the last thing you’re going to find in the Middle East, and that trying to superimpose it with force usually makes things worse? That’s what both the Israelis and Ronald Reagan learned in the early 1980’s when they tried disastrously to remake Lebanon.

The cowboy president bet the ranch on Iraq, and that war has made almost any other American action in the Arab world, and any Pax Americana that might have been created there, impossible. It’s fitting that Condi is the Flying Dutchman, since Lebanon represents the shipwreck of our Middle East policy.

And why exactly is Condi Rice “The Flying Dutchman“?

–Ann Bartow

Update: And if Rice was a man, would: “Zbigniew Brzezinski, national security adviser in the Carter administration, deride[] Rice’s trip as “sitting in front of a mirror, talking to herself” if she does not deal diplomatically with the major players“? I assume Brzezinski would still be critical, but “sitting in front of mirrors” is not a phrase that seems to come up when male political figures are discussed. And why is leftist blogger Billmon referring to her trip as “Operation Midwife”? And at the same link why is Billmon invoking “TV footage of Arab women and children being blown to bloody bits“? Don’t “other” the women, dude. Civilian men are just as defenseless.

Update two: And this leftish guy weighs in with this photo:

To which he appended this caption: “Did somebody order a handjob?” Oh no, nothing sexist there…

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0 Responses to Why Can’t Maureen Dowd Quit With The Sexism?

  1. SD Franck says:

    I confess to being sympathetic to Dowd’s reference to Condi’s fashion choices. This may be partially because I have seen Condi at two American Society of International Law conferences, and at both occasions she was impeccably dressed. What was most striking, in comparison to the appearance by other scholars and judges at the same conference, Condi’s tailored, sleek and sophisticated appearance was one of the most striking things about her. Yes, we all were hanging on the edge of our seats as we listened to her substantive remarks; but on both occasions, I was struck by how Condi’s professional wardrobe choices were striking and designed to create a sense of confidence, sophistication, power and control. Not unlike a uniform, perhaps? That having been said, perhaps my reaction is because I vacillate between being a wanna-be-fashionista and an utter slob.

    As to the substance of Condi’s remarks and approach to the current situation in the Middle East, I will leave that to better bloggers than myself. But let me remind reader’s of a recent post on Jim Chen’s new blog, Jurisdynamics, where in a nod to popular culture he reminded us:”It’s not even sporting to ponder the political ramifications of The Revenge of the Sith’s climactic line,”Only a Sith speaks in absolutes.””See http://jurisdynamics.blogspot.com/2006/07/freeze-frame.html#links.

  2. Ann Bartow says:

    Dowd’s reference to Rice’s outfit, in addition to calling Rice “a damsel who causes distress,” and a “superbabe,” struck me as sexist even though I think I mostly agree with the substance (I am using weasel words because I’m not 100% sure what Dowd’s point was…) I admit I am generally not a clothes noticer.

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