Last Friday, Maureen Dowd went on David Letterman. That kind of thing doesn't happen often; Dowd rarely appears on TV, period, so I set my PVR to record it. And it was worth it.
Dowd's column in the New York Times is already legendary. After eviscerating the Clintons with such delight through the Nineties, Dowd got tagged as the kind o' gal who liked to hang with the conservatives.
Nah. She just lives dissecting politicians, or those who like power. The Bush administration as been a frequent target; she has a new book, Bushworld, on the subject ... hence the media appearances.
Even in a playful arena like Letterman, Dowd looked awkward and nervous ... until she started talking. Her answers were tart and often funny, and pretty self-deprecating. Knocking herself for "grooming" all day like a cat, she said she's been getting style advice from all quarters; her hate mail used to start "Dear liberal slut," and now it says (I wish I could remember the quote), "Dear liberal slut ... your lipstick is wrong."
Her call on the election: John Kerry can't win, and shouldn't, following the way he's run his campaign.
An excerpt is here.
Meanwhile, Dowd's other media appearances have approved more upright locales, like chatting with Tim Russert on Meet the Press. The interview (the transcript is here) recaps Dowd's analysis of the peculiar relationship between President Bush and President Bush.
MR. RUSSERT: This is one of the ways you frame the discussion in the book: "OEDIPAL LOOP-DE-LOOP." What is that?
MS. DOWD: Well, I guess the simplest way to explain it is: What are the odds that one Republican president, who goes to war with an Iraqi dictator, wouldn't call the last Republican president who went to war with the same Iraqi dictator to ask his advice or check in with him? And how weird is that if it's also your father?
I mean, I think we are watching the most amazing father-son drama in American politics. And you have a tight bond with your son; you know that the father-son drama in myth and literature and Star Wars, I mean, it's an amazing thing once it gets going.
MR. RUSSERT: You write this: "W. had gambled huge, risking his own legacy while undercutting his dad's. It was an intense and historic family drama, all the more remarkable because the father and son who hate being put `on the couch' were now involved in a Freudian tango that was rocking the world... W. avenged his dad, replaced his dad, made his dad proud and rebelled against his dad, all with the same war."
MS. DOWD: Well, when the president gave an interview to The Washington Times in May and he said, "We will not cut and run in Iraq like they did in '91," that was his dad he was talking about. He was saying his dad cut and run, and that seemed pretty harsh.
Another snippet: Dowd reveals that the president, renowned for bestowing nicknames on people, refers to her as "the Cobra." Not bad.