Maureen Dowd: High School's Queen Bee
In an on-the-money article lambasting Maureen Dowd, Kay Hymowitz has this to say:
Dowd wasn’t hired to think. She was hired to snark. And man, does she deliver! Dowd is the Mean Girl of the chattering class, the alpha female whose power comes from her shrewd sense of her classmates’ social limitations. No one outside a high school cafeteria has a better eye for 11th grade types: the sex-obsessed outsider-nerd (Ken Starr), the spoiled daddy’s boy (George W.), the dumb cheerleader with a permanent crush on the Big Man on Campus (Monica), and of course, the student council president, that “letter-sweater smoothie” (“adolescent-in-chief” Bill Clinton). Now, everyone loves a good snark now and again, but what makes Dowd so successful is that she taps into people’s visceral longing to belong to the in-crowd, a longing that not only outlives 12th grade, but evidently survives well into the middle years that much of her New York Times readership is now enduring. One of her favorite tactics is inviting her audience to sneer along with her at the social outcast. “Just how much did Karl Rove hate not being one of the cool guys in the 60’s?” Dowd wrote in November. “Enough to hatch schemes to marshal the forces of darkness to take over the country?”Perhaps not all of us, but many of us, remember being on the receiving end of this type of scathing put down. These queens didn't care that we did volunteer work on weekends, paid all our own expenses, and pulled in decent grades. No, they decimated us by pointing out that our clothes were just the wrong look, our friends the school geeks. What amazes me is that Maureen Dowd, trading on these tired high school mores, is still so enormously popular amongst the "adults" who read the Times (she is invariably one of the most emailed columnists). I guess that, just as the mean queen knew in high school, when your attack on someone lacks merit, stoop to insult -- and she's preaching to people who desperately want to see the current administration insulted. As we lawyers say, if you've got the law, argue the law; if you've got the facts, argue the facts; if you've got neither facts nor law, pound the table. In Dowd's case, I guess it would be, if you've got neither facts nor legitimate theory, unsheath your talons and scratch the table to death.