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11 August 2001

Our current howler (part II): Bearded lady

Synopsis: When Gore grew a beard without asking permission, Maureen Dowd got her circus act workin’.

Gore’s Political Return to Include Eastern Stops
Adam Clymer, The New York Times, 8/3/01

U.S.A. T.M.I.
Maureen Dowd, The New York Times, 9/2/98

De Minimis Maximus
Maureen Dowd, The New York Times, 8/6/01

Gore renewed, looks less ‘wooden’
Agence France Presse, The Washington Times, 8/3/01

Reliable Sources
Lloyd Grove, The Washington Post, 8/9/01

Center Holding
Maureen Dowd, The New York Times, 5/20/98

Maybe it’s time for an ex-VP to admit that the current VP was right. Here was the New York Times’ Adam Clymer, reporting on Gore’s troubling beard:

CLYMER (pgh 1): Former Vice President Al Gore is easing back into American politics, starting by training Democratic operatives for elections this fall in New Jersey, New York and Virginia and then founding a political action committee to help Congressional candidates in the 2002 elections.

(2) Mr. Gore has been vacationing in Europe for several weeks and has changed his image again: he has grown a beard. But associates said his new look had nothing to do with politics and was unlikely to be seen in the United States.

Pathetic, isn’t it? Gore, on vacation, had grown a beard. Other papers knew this was about as newsworthy as the latest Gore sun tan report. But once the Times gets a spin it enjoys, it gets rammed down your throat to the end. In what masquerades as a news report, Clymer immediately tells you what the beard means—phony Gore has changed his image again! Sorry, but it takes a real major-leaguer to offer such piffle—to insult your intelligence with such blatant attempts to shovel such stale propaganda.

But remember—at the New York Times, you haven’t seen dumb until Maureen Dowd gets her circus act workin’. On Sunday, Dowd leaped into action, devoting her entire column to Gore’s recent troubling growth. In previous columns, Dowd has given us looks at her own troubled life; in one memorable example, she lounged in a thinly-veiled state of depression, watching a TV show which no one else would ever have wasted time watching:

DOWD (9/2/98; pgh 1): I was lolling at home yesterday [Tuesday] morning, watching Howie Mandel, a talk-show host, ask Rosie O’Donnell, another talk-show host who was his guest, about her summer vacation.

(2) Suddenly the program was interrupted for an ABC News Special Report.

What a perfect image of the vacuous Dowd! She occasionally gets a bit of news when the networks break in on her talk shows! Vacuous, empty and therefore quite glum, Dowd fills the Times full of catty old gossip. Most days, her column seems a stale reminder, left around from the long-gone days when newspaper culture permitted women to offer nothing else.

Which brings us to Sunday’s effort. First, let do the numbers: 132. (Words needed to say "alpha male" and "earth tones" in writing a column on Gore.) An upbeat Dowd, on familiar old ground, played you for suckers rather fast:

DOWD (8/6/01; pgh 1): The beard is magnifique. So Continental, so Pepe Le Pew.

(2) In all those pictures from Europe, the newly hirsute Al Gore, looking like Orson Welles, strolls contentedly after a repast in Rome with Tipper.

Dowd—whose distaste for facts is almost pathological—lies in your face right away. In fact, the photo which her own paper ran showed Gore indoors, giving a speech, head and shoulders only. No post-pigout strolling was portrayed. Nor did he look especially hefty. Indeed, here’s the way the pics were described in the Washington Times, for God’s sake:

WASHINGTON TIMES (pgh 1): The pictures flashed this week across US television screens and were plastered inside newspapers: Al Gore on his European vacation, looking tanned, bearded and more relaxed than many Americans had ever seen him before.

Even the Washington Times didn’t need to pretend that Gore looked fat in the photos. And by the way, here’s what a reliable source told the Post’s Lloyd Grove after riding home on a plane with the blimp:

GROVE (8/9/01): "If my father saw him, he’d tell Gore to get a haircut and shave, but I think he looks great," said Rosslyn consultant Scott Staph, who was among Gore’s 40 or so fellow [New York-to-D.C.] shuttle passengers. "He looked like somebody who has been on vacation for a while and relaxing." The 43-year-old Staph, who supported Gore over George W. Bush in the last election, told us: "His hair was shaggy, but he was nowhere near as heavy as I expected him to be, based on everything I’d read."

Huh! We wonder who Staph has been reading? In short, Dowd was simply making it up (old word: "lying") when she said that Gore looked fat in the photos. But Dowd—whose interests include bald spots, wardrobe, weight gain and spin—stuck with the vacuous story she likes. Later on, Dowd wove her tale again, referring to Gore’s "Heineken girth." All must bow low to the Queen of Mean in her campaigns of spin and distortion.

But why in the world is Dowd so mean? Using the cutting-edge, advanced research techniques which Dowd has spread all through her own guild, we’ve subjected that matter to disciplined scrutiny. Clearly, distorted thinking was found in Dowd’s home. Here’s an example of MotherDowd Thought—an anecdote which the daughter published as a cry for help and attention:

DOWD (5/20/98; pgh 3): When I first moved to New York, I called my mother to tell her I was going to stay in a residential hotel called the Oliver Cromwell. There was a long pause, then tearful anger. "He encouraged his soldiers to throw babies up in the air and impale them on their swords as they came down," she snapped. I found another hotel. In Irish time, 1651 and 1981 were only moments apart.

Weird. But when children grow up in homes like this, are we surprised by the troubling outcomes? In another profile, Dowd described her father, a Washington cop, dissolving into a quivering pool after shooting a guy on a stakeout one night. Dad was off work for three months, Dowd remembered. By the way, Dowd notes that she used to lie about her father’s profession. In the 60s, when being a cop wasn’t all that cool, Dowd would tell friends that her dad was a pol. Like us, you’ve probably spotted the pattern already. If it’s "in" at the time, then—true or false—Maureen Dowd will run right out and say it.

Anyhoo, an anonymous psychiatric source whose existence we invented told us that these glimpses explain a good deal of Dowd’s transparent rage and dysfunction; indeed, Dowd herself wrote, in that column on Mom, "Here is what you need to know about the Irish soul. We are an unforgiving people. We believe in the Evil Eye. We like to fight. We don’t like to compromise. We lie in wait for the worst. We lurk about in the past." This seems to explain Dowd’s style as a writer. But it does, of course, leave one major puzzle—why the Times stoops to publish her "lurkings."

Should writers be able to make things up? When Dowd does, the New York Times rushes to print it. And for sheer stupidity—for sheer insult to the reader’s intelligence—consider this idiot passage:

DOWD (8/6/01): Does Mr. Gore really think that all the Ken dolls—John Edwards, Evan Bayh, John Kerry—much less his eager ex-protege, Joe Lieberman, will simply step aside and say, "Oh, O.K., Al, you go again"? Does he think he’ll get a green light from Tom Daschle, the clever, potent Senate majority leader who de-pom-pommed Mississippi cheerleader Trent Lott?

Consider the sheer stupidity of that passage, which exists to heap ridicule on Gore. First, of course, Gore hasn’t said that he’ll run again; Dowd assumes it, to help out her story. But even if he had so declared, why would Dowd think that Gore believed that others would step aside? What a remarkable paragraph! First, Dowd simply assumes that Gore will run. Then, Dowd pretends that Gore thinks something that’s crazy—and, of course, mocks him for thinking it. And no passage from Dowd is ever complete without a display of her groaning factual ignorance; Lieberman has said, again and again, that he will step aside if Gore runs again. Everyone knows it, including Dowd’s editors. But not Dowd—apparently the networks didn’t break in on Judge Judy the last time that Lieberman said so.

Kerry’s a Ken doll. Lott’s a cheerleader. Gore, of course, is fat and stupid. The lolling Dowd—Mandel’s only viewer—exists to serve stupid insults. And the evening after this column ran, Chris Matthews and his imbecile court were assuring their viewers that the Times just loves Gore (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 8/8/01). Readers, could you ever have dreamed, when you were still young, that people like this could be running your discourse? That the world’s most important public discussion could be in the hands of buffoons and dissemblers?

Visit our incomparable archives: When Mo asked Al about his clothes, it showed that he was obsessed. See THE DAILY HOWLER, 11/12/99.

Making it up, continued: Dowd exists to dish crude insults. Consider this strange passage from last Sunday’s column:

DOWD (8/6/01): At W.’s inauguration, as Bill Clinton and Al Gore walked down the stairs, Bill stopped at James Baker’s row. "You were good in Florida, man, damn good," Elvis told the Velvet Hammer. Gesturing toward Mr. Gore, he went on: "But if this [epithet] would’ve listened to me and put me out on the trail, you’d of never had the chance to be good." (No editing; as presented in the Times)

Do you believe that Clinton said that? Do you believe that Clinton walked down the stairs with Gore, then stopped to call him an "*sshole," or a "sh*thead," or whatever word Dowd wants you to have in your head? This "quote" has never been reported by anyone else, and Dowd provides exactly no sourcing. Does the Times have rules for the sourcing of factual claims? Normally yes, but not when Dowd gets off her chaise and begins passing out insults.

Meanwhile, enjoy a final, mordant chuckle at the crew which now runs your public discourse:

DOWD (8/6/01): [Gore] could never figure out how to capitalize on a popular, if flawed, president, chafing to campaign. And he isolated himself, relying on the advice of his wife and daughter as he lobbied the elite media clique.

The theme here, of course, is that Gore is just stupid. But enjoy a laugh at Dowd’s description of Clinton: "a popular, if flawed, president." Flawed!!! We invite you to go back through the clips and see what Dowd had to say in real time. But remember how Dowd enjoys saying what’s "in?" Your pundit corps has a basic spin they now want to sell you about the election. They like to say that Gore got to run on the best economy in years, and managed to blow the race anyway. They know not to mention another point—that he also "got to run" in the wake of a just-impeached president! The second one in American history—one whom the entire press corps was trashing hard, and struggling to link to Gore in all ways. Their effort continued for twenty straight months, but now our pundits have strangely forgotten, and Dowd—spewing insults from a chocolate-strewn divan—is still saying things children like.


The occasional update (8/11/01)

There’s simply no way to know less: Just when you think you’ve seen it all, Ann Coulter shows up on Geraldo. Was Chandra upset by her April job loss? We don’t have the slightest idea. But then, if total ignorance is what you enjoy, just listen to Ann and Geraldo:

COULTER: Two things, I think. One is—I mean, I was struck by the descriptions in Lisa DePaulo’s article about how she had lost her job. And it does seem to create a slightly different state of mind than what we had been imagining, which was exclusively focused on Condit. But I don’t—I mean, for one thing, I don’t think that really is—could possibly be as big as deal as it’s described. It was an internship.

RIVERA: Right.

COULTER: Internships are, by definition, unpaid. What she wanted to do was move into a paying job. So I mean, whatever her consternation was at that stage, it can’t have been related. I think undue stress can be put on the loss of job. She was about to fly back to California for her graduation. And on the female problem—and I’m not claiming any special insight. I mean, anyone who knows a female can sort of think about this, and what would use—

RIVERA: Correct. Correct…

Incredible, isn’t it? If you’ve spent ten minutes on this case, you know that Levy’s internship paid $27,000. But total ignorance of the type displayed here is simply routine among cable pundits. Clearly, Coulter has no idea what she’s talking about. She has clearly done no work on this case. In other sectors, she’d be fired as a clown. But on cable, of course, she’s an "expert."

Commentary by Ann Coulter, Geraldo Rivera
Rivera Live, CNBC, 8/8/01