On a hitting streak

October 15, 2008 at 12:39 pm | Posted in politics, read this, wine | Leave a comment
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I have a love-hate relationship with Maureen Dowd.  (She once was a guest lecturer to my national political journalism class at Columbia and, perched on the edge of the desk in a very, very short skirt, spoke about her time on the George H.W. Bush campaign trail — making it sound like one big booze fest (which I’m sure it was) but also as if he flirted with her the whole time. Not the impressive lecture I was expecting.) At times I find her columns too formulaic — too many ideas set up in opposing symmetry (e.g., “America’s back in the cold war and W.’s back on vacation.”), and a little too heavy a dependence on pop culture (which works for Bill Simmons, but hers can be cloying — for example: “our new Napoleon in bunny boots (not the Pamela Anderson kind, but the knock-offs of the U.S. Army Extreme Cold Weather Vapor Barrier Boots).”)

Recently, however, she has dusted off her thesaurus, and her columns have been brilliant — relying more on a deft use of language than her sometimes borderline cliches.  For example, recently she ever so casually dropped the word sesquipedalian into a column on Paul Newman (as Lindsey also noted in a post). And then, today, in a sentence that must be really fun to read aloud, “The conservative donnybrook over Sarah Palin, the peppery debate raging about whether she is an embarrassment who should fade away or an impudent but promising wine picked before its time.” 

Tonight I shall have to find an impudent but promising wine to test the metaphor.


Poor Sarah indeed

September 27, 2008 at 9:34 am | Posted in politics, read this | 1 Comment
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I just haven’t had the energy to write about Sarah Palin. A hundred pundits and bloggers — not to mention my mother and sisters — can say it better than I can. But something has been bugging me since day one, which I haven’t been able to quite articulate. Fortunately, Judith Warner, a columnist for the Times, just did in this post.

I said at the start, “They’re going to tear her apart.” They being: the Democrats and the media, of course. I thought, she doesn’t know what she’s getting into. But is that her fault? If you were the governor of a small state and were tapped to be the vice presidential candidate of a party who has never had a woman on the ticket, could you say no? (Whether or not she should have considered the effect that her campaign and the intrusive media chaos would have on her pregnant, teenage daughter is a whole other issue…I don’t know that I could have done that to my daughter during what is probably the hardest time of her young life…) It’s how I feel every time someone asks me to do something I know I don’t quite have the time or experience to do: I jump at it! I love the challenge and, of course, my ego loves that I was asked.

However, as my mother is so quick to say (before she launches into one of her Sarah Palin-induced rages…): it is unquestionably John McCain’s fault. How could he “unleash” her on us? What does this say about his judgment? And that, I think, is the bottom line.

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