Tuesday, July 30, 2013

On Topic And Off Base

Maureen Dowd was described by a reviewer/admirer shortly after she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1999 (for her articles on Clinton/Lewinsky, of course) as "fully in tune with the political and cultural moment."

That was meant, sadly, as a compliment.  This past Monday, the Daily Howler's Bob Somerby found that, having received the award for several columns about sex,  Dowd followed up in 1999 with column after column about nothing.  In May, former White House spokesman Robert Gibbs on Morning Joe remarked “I don’t read Dowd," pointing out "largely because it’s sort of largely the same column for the last, like, eight years." It has kept her in a most prestigious position, on the op-ed page of The New York Times.  

Fox News, a frequent (and justified) object of scorn on MSNBC, has been particularly bashed the past few days for an interview conducted by backbencher Lauren Green with religion scholar Reza Aslan.  Green obviously was peturbed because Aslan is a Muslim who has written a book about Jesus Christ. Summarizing his professional credentials, Aslan noted he "has been studying the origins of Christianity for two decades" and "also just happens to be a Muslim."

It's a lesson Dowd ought to learn.  Dowd, who has been having fun with Anthony Weiner- as she once did with Bill Clinton- turned to the New York mayoral candidate's wife, Huma Abedin, as she once did Monica Lewinsky.  She writes

When you puzzle over why the elegant Huma Abedin is propping up the eel-like Anthony Weiner, you must remember one thing: Huma was raised in Saudi Arabia, where women are treated worse by men than anywhere else on the planet.

Comparatively speaking, the pol from Queens probably seems like a prince. 

Ha! So funny.  Except that we know little about Huma Abedin's faith, except that she is of parents who are Muslim and apparently has not converted.  Judging from Dowd's article, she knows a little less than a little about whether Abedin is observant, completely secular, or something in between.    The columnist appears, as the religious editor of The Huffington Post implies, either of the latter two. But we don't know.

It would be useful information if, as with Dowd, one is little concerned about stop-and-frisk, food bans, education, or other issues in determining who might become mayor of the financial capital of the world. But then, as one Wonkette blogger comments, "reading Maureen Dowd is like paying one of the Mean Girls to write columns for you forever and ever."

Dowd's interest is less policy than sex, and she seems unaware that not all Muslims march in lockstep with the dictates of their religion. The range of diversity in adherence to the precepts of a faith among individuals who have the same religious background is common most places, and especially in this nation.  Otherwise, Mitt Romney and Kyrsten Sinema, and Steny Hoyer and Mitch McConnell would be theological twins.

Dowd dangerously leaves room to speculate on Huma Abedin's place of birth, just as some of those alleging President Obama is a Muslim subtly (or not so subtly) suggests that he may be a foreigner.   Although raised in Saudi Arabia, the 37-year-old Abedin was born in Michigan and has lived since she was 18 in the U.S.A., which appears to suit her just fine. And that ought to count for more than cheap shots about being raised in an Arabic country.

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