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I don't know enough derogatory words to express the full depth of my disgust with Maureen Dowd, who each week manages singlehandedly to undermine the reputation of the New York Times as a serious newspaper. She has consistently ridiculed Bill Clinton, Al Gore, John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, and now her target is Barack Obama. Often her cringe-worthy columns seem suitable only for the psychiatrist's office in a loony bin.

In her biography, she has expressed her conviction that intelligent men don't marry brilliant women like herself, and she reserves special venom for any man or woman who casts doubt on her belief (all Democratic presidential candidates and their spouses).

Not having Hillary to lambaste every week seems to be causing a total breakdown. In Sunday's New York Times, Dowd has surpassed herself, using my and many people's favorite novel, Pride and Prejudice, as her weapon of ridicule. It would be more accurate to say she was using the movie version, not the book.

   The odd thing is that Obama bears a distinct resemblance to the most cherished hero in chick-lit history. The senator is a modern incarnation of the clever, haughty, reserved and fastidious Mr. Darcy.

   Like the leading man of Jane Austen and Bridget Jones, Obama can, as Austen wrote, draw "the attention of the room by his fine, tall person, handsome features, noble mien. ...he was looked at with great admiration for about half the evening, till his manners gave a disgust which turned the tide of his popularity; for he was discovered to be proud, to be above his company, and above being pleased."

   The master of Pemberley "had yet to learn to be laughed at," and this sometimes caused "a deeper shade of hauteur" to "overspread his features."

   Indeed, when Obama left a prayer to the Lord at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, a note that was snatched out and published, part of his plea was to "help me guard against pride."

   If Obama is Mr. Darcy, with "his pride, his abominable pride," then America is Elizabeth Bennet, spirited, playful, democratic, financially strained, and caught up in certain prejudices. (McCain must be cast as Wickham, the rival for Elizabeth's affections, the engaging military scamp who casts false aspersions on Darcy's character.)

There are so many women bloggers who should write columns for the New York Times, instead of Dowd, who is an embarrassment to all intelligent, political women. I admit I laughed at the NYT commenter who said Maureen by herself casts doubt on the wisdom of the 19th amendment. Digby of Hullabaloo and Hilzoy of Obsidian Wings spring immediately to mind. Yet Maureen sells papers; there are already 650 comments on her column. And I am giving her more publicity. Her column exemplifies what seems to be McCain's major strategy, ridiculing Obama as an arrogant, grandiose, would-be Messiah who is striving to get his face on a dollar bill.

The brilliant Echidne of the Snakes illuminates Dowd's worst crime against civilization and literature. Dowd writes:  "The odd thing is that Obama bears a distinct resemblance to the most cherished hero in chick-lit history. The senator is a modern incarnation of the clever, haughty, reserved and fastidious Mr. Darcy."


Jane Austen belongs to the history of chick-lit? Only if you are willing to see Rembrandt or da Vinci or Rubens as the forerunner of your family snapshots. Note, by the way, that this is not in any sense intended to demean the writers of chick-lit (if such a genre really exists in the first place); only to point out that Jane Austen was one of the few great geniuses of the English language and that her books are not about love-and-marriage anymore than Rembrandt's paintings are about trying to take photographs before photography was invented.

Originally posted to Are We Drugging Children Into Obedience? on Sun Aug 03, 2008 at 03:04 PM PDT.

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