Of course, if Clark Hoyt were paid to defend the Gray Lady, he wouldn’t be paid at all. But his pandering piece on Maureen Dowd’s treatment of Senator Clinton’s campaign
is a bit much, even for the Public Editor mounted on his trustiest steed and suited in his noblest armor. This is so even if one thinks–and many do–that Ms. Dowd more can be more “shrill” than Sen. Clinton, even on the former’s most gravel-throated day.
Let’s start with the fact that Dowd is a columnist, not a reporter. Hoyt acknowledges this distinction, but too anemically. Said simply, Ms. Dowd can say whatever she damned well pleases in print, just as long as her readers want her to, just as Peggy Aulisio, of South Dartmouth, Mass., is free to jump the jump to George Will at the Washington Post. Ms. Dowd gets paid to be provocative–and funny–within the standards of basic fairness. That’s her *job.* Just ask Dick Cheney.
More annoying is that Ms. Dowd’s beefs with Clinton are legitimate. Emasculation, check. Check-plus if you count the efforts of “Roll the Dice” POTUS XLII. Victimhood, double check: That Sen. Clinton had “found unforutnatlely, you know, that a lot of people are downright mysoginistic?” An equivalent Obama gambit would have been, “unfortunately you know, I’ve found that some honkies will never vote for a brother.” Both Hoyt and Dowd would have earned their paychecks that day.
Even the the non-Dowd offenses supposedly perpetrated by The Times are eye-rollers. Sen Clinton *does* shout into the microphone and end her applause phrases with ascending pitch, in a way that would earn her eraser-banging duty from any 8th-grade speech coach. In her defense, she could inveigh that the President never gets called on the same verbal tic, such that a statement commending our troops ends up sounding like an 8-year-old’s defense of gumball larceny. But with Bush’s approval ratings already in the mid-20s with an anvil, the NYT can probably be forgiven the oversight.
Sen. Clinton *does* often look like a Talbot’s model, whereas her (male) opponents eschew so much as JFK’s pocket-hanky nod to anything but sartorial sameness. Sen. Clinton is not–as she’s eager to remind us–inexperienced. And she’s certainly not–as we’ve been more recently informed–without means. These are conscious choices of the candidate.
And while these choices are insignificant in the grand scheme, they certainly aren’t off limits for people who are paid to write about the campaign. This lady doth protest too much. She always has.