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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Maureen Dowd, "History: Get Me Rewrite!": Dowd Rewrites a Hoary Op-Ed

In a recent New York Observer article entitled "The Tyranny and Lethargy of the Times Editorial Page" (http://observer.com/2014/02/the-tyranny-and-lethargy-of-the-times-editorial-page/#axzz2su9y1r4t), Ken Kurson caused something of a sensation by highlighting the dichotomy between the excellent newsroom reporting of the Times versus the irrelevance, stupidity and lack of originality of its editorial page. Kurson wrote (my emphasis in red):

"Another former Times writer, someone who has gone on to great success elsewhere, expressed similar contempt (and even used the word 'embarrass') and says it’s longstanding.

'I think the editorials are viewed by most reporters as largely irrelevant, and there’s not a lot of respect for the editorial page. The editorials are dull, and that’s a cardinal sin. They aren’t getting any less dull. As for the columnists, Friedman is the worst. He hasn’t had an original thought in 20 years; he’s an embarrassment. He’s perceived as an idiot who has been wrong about every major issue for 20 years, from favoring the invasion of Iraq to the notion that green energy is the most important topic in the world even as the financial markets were imploding. Then there’s Maureen Dowd, who has been writing the same column since George H. W. Bush was president.'"

Well today, Dowd does everything humanly possible to prove that Kurson was correct, rewriting her stock-in-trade opinion pieces critical of George W. Bush. In her latest New York Times op-ed entitled "History: Get Me Rewrite!" (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/19/opinion/dowd-history-get-me-rewrite.html?ref=opinion&_r=0), Dowd sets the stage by lambasting Lyndon Johnson:

"Maybe ratcheting up the [Vietnam] war with more than 500,000 troops and sending so many young Americans to their deaths halfway around the world based on chest-thumping advice and a naïve theory of democratic dominoes was a deterrent to getting out."

Maureen then blasts Bush:

"Asked by a reporter about Iraq recently, W.’s eyes flashed and he replied, 'I am not happy.'

He shouldn’t be. Afghanistan, which he abandoned to pursue a phony 'retaliatory' war in Iraq, is crumbling despite all the money, muscle and blood we have poured into it, with our runaway fruitcake puppet Hamid Karzai fiddling while the Taliban burns, vowing to run America out just as they did the Russians and waging vicious attacks on women.

In corrupt and violent Iraq, women are getting detained illegally and tortured. The country is awash in a blood-dimmed tide, with nearly 9,000 killed last year and almost 1,000 killed last month, as Al Qaeda and another jihadist group fight for supremacy. In Falluja, the city where nearly 100 American soldiers died in the fiercest fighting of the war, the black insurgent flag now flies over buildings."

Noting that Bush is now busy painting animal skulls, Dowd concludes her opinion piece by observing:

"W. should know: Some landscapes cannot be painted over."

Needless to say, this rewrite of a hoary op-ed, does not begin to consider the landscape currently being painted by the first invertebrate ever to occupy the Oval Office.

But first the ground rules: I vehemently denounced the Vietnam War and voted for George McGovern in 1972. I also deplored the Second Gulf War, given that I was convinced that eliminating Saddam Hussein would destroy the Iraq-Iran equilibrium and bring chaos to the Middle East. More recently, as readers of this blog know, I have consistently opposed American boots on the ground in the quagmire of Afghanistan.

On the other hand, as a child who participated in a sufficient number of playground scuffles, I have also come to believe that if bullies don't believe you are able to stand up for yourself, you are inviting future misery.

Regarding Dowd's op-ed, how can she possibly write about Johnson's escalation of the Vietnam War without observing Obama's inane escalation of American involvement in Afghanistan?

And although I would reject any introduction of American ground forces into Syria, I do believe in the enforcement of a no-fly zone to prevent genocide in that country.

As Richard Cohen wrote yesterday in a Washington Post opinion piece entitled "Obama’s failure to act on Syria" (http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/richard-cohen-obamas-failure-to-act-on-syria/2014/02/17/badddd00-981b-11e3-8461-8a24c7bf0653_story.html?hpid=z3):

"Six million people have been displaced. Three million have fled to neighboring countries. Polio has broken out in refugee camps (see a recent account in the New York Review of Books). The world does little to stop the fighting. The United States does next to nothing. Children die for lack of food or medicine. There is more than enough shame here to go around.

. . . .

Washington’s dawdling has become the hallmark of Obama’s foreign policy. He can make all the speeches he wants, but his confusion and indecision is what other leaders notice and what history will remember. Now, so very late, he has asked for options. Here’s one: Do something!"

And as Michael Gerson concluded in a Washington Post opinion piece entitled "Syria’s refugees despair while the world is indifferent" (http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/michael-gerson-the-despair-of-syrias-refugees/2014/02/17/43294b50-97fd-11e3-afce-3e7c922ef31e_story.html?hpid=z3), describing the plight of Syrian civilians caught in the middle of the savage civil war:

"These developments should mean something to Mr. Obama, the author of an executive directive (Presidential Study Directive on Mass Atrocities ) declaring the prevention of mass atrocities a 'core national security interest and a core moral responsibility.' At the moment, he stands judged by his own standard."

Obama should be "judged by his own standard"? Which standard is that? Hypocrisy? Cowardice? Procrastination?

More to the point, why doesn't Dowd write about Obama's moral turpitude? Answer: Why should she? It's so much easier reliving the Bush era and rewriting that same censorious op-ed.

2 comments:

  1. Seriously?
    The sooner we address the killiungs and gun runnings done in our name, the sooner we can 'fix' the future.

    Cohen, Gerson et al want us in yet another foreign confliuct shipping guns and escalating hostilities... to 'protect' their women and children allegedly.

    Ha. Look at Iraq and Afghanistan today. We did that to those people. Our help kills innocents. Our technology causes MORE deaths and suffering.

    We've helped enough. Dowd needs to keep saying it until it registers.

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    Replies
    1. Mary, thanks for your comment.

      Suppose the year is 1944 and you have the opportunity to bomb the railroad tracks leading into Auschwitz, where 6,000 people are being gassed to death every day. If you could undertake the mission without risk to your air force, you wouldn't order it?

      In Syria, Assad is starving to death civilian opponents of his regime. Sure, I know, the opposition, e.g., ISIS, is also guilty of horrifying atrocities. But you wouldn't want to air drop food to starving civilians? You wouldn't want to put an end to barrel bombs being dropped on their homes?

      What does Dowd need to keep saying until it registers? Where does she say it?

      Me? I cannot look the other way and pretend that it is not happening, or declare, "Who cares what they do to one another?"

      As noted in my blog entry, I opposed American involvement in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. On the other hand, I favor taking active measures to counter genocide.

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