By Blue Stockings | We already know there isn't enough shut up in all the world for Maureen Dowd. But John Edwards should probably be grateful to her. If there's one writer who can probably bring everyone together on his side, it's her. Certainly Dowd is one person everyone writing at this blog agrees on, even if we can't agree on anything else.
Every time I swear I'll never read her self-referential musings again, I find myself pulled in by curiosity to see whether she can outrage me further. So far, the answer always turns out to be "yes."
You know, I'm annoyed with John Edwards. I said so. He stands accused of hypocrisy at the very least. I draw the line at presuming to read his mind or to judge him based on this one act. Maybe he was carried away with himself. I easily believe that. But is there really no understanding anywhere for the pathos of the situation and its aftermath?
But it has occurred to me since then that men whose wives are seriously ill sometimes do very shocking and unbecoming things....out of fear. Men who fear losing their wives often seem to try to put some distance between themselves and the beloved. Who's to say that isn't what was going on with Edwards? It might be true and he might not even be consciously aware of it. And if he were, it's not really something he could ever say.
But yes, yes, yes: by all means. Let's all go ahead and sit in judgment on John Edwards. He's been a hypocrite---we would never do that. He's been disloyal to a spouse---we are all paragons of faithfulness and loyalty. He's betrayed his own standards---none of us have ever done that.
What if that's what happened? What if that's what was---and is---going on? But of course, we all had to rush to judgment. After all, we'd judged others who erred. We're liberals; if our own err, we call them out (which is one way you can tell us from conservatives).
But maybe it's time to step back and remember that we don't actually know what was going on in Edwards' mind or Elizabeth's, and that he might not even know himself at this stage.
And then MoDo turns her self-projector on to him, as per usual, everything she looks at turns into MoDo.. Once again, she pretends to be reading her subject's mind while actually telling us more than we really want to know about her own. Here is a sample of her particular form of "self-focus."
He admitted that wallowing in “self-focus” out on the trail and thinking you’re “special” can result in a solipsism that “leads you to believe you can do whatever you want, you’re invincible and there’ll be no consequences.”
Auto-psychoanalysis by the perp. That’s really rich. When Bill Clinton acknowledged an affair, after equally adamant denials, he simply went into an old-fashioned spiral of penitence, his allegedly long, dark night of his alleged soul.
Even in confessing to preening, Edwards was preening. His diagnosis of narcissism was weirdly narcissistic, or was it self-narcissistic? Given his diagnosis, I’m sure his H.M.O. would pay. (NYT)
Yes, MoDo, yes! That is indeed "really rich"---that you'd have the gall to criticize someone else for feeling they can do or say whatever they want without any consequences to anyone else. Of course, you---being a mind-reader and a certified psychoanalyst and so on---are able to calibrate and classify the exact degree of Bill Clinton's penitence compared with John Edwards'.
She just can't forego a chance to be mean-spirited and know-it-all. Dowd's always at the Malt Shop counter---thanks, Nutroots--- sneering at the latest person's fall from grace with no more insight or sensitivity than the stool on which she perches..
Edwards at least took a political stand that focused on the needs of the poor and on health care. What has Dowd done that's so important?
Here's what she's done: write snarky little columns from her position of "superiority" as someone who not only can read minds, but never, never makes a mistake and---of course---doesn't secretly hate herself at all. Here's more:
But the Breck Girl wants a gold star for the fact that he sent his marriage into remission when his wife was in remission. That’s special.
In his statement, he bleats: “You cannot beat me up more than I have already beaten up myself. I have been stripped bare.” Isn’t stripping bare how he got into this mess? (NYT)
MoDo wants a gold star for being able to read Edwards' mind and for calling him out for his no doubt massive ego. She also wants a gold star for pointing out that he cheated on a sick woman. Yeah, well, I'm sure that this column will give Elizabeth great comfort, O Omniscient One. Solidarity, sister!
All the sordid details that she gloats over in this piece just convince me that my tentative theory may be true. Edwards was looking for something to divert him from his pain----first he and Elizabeth lost their child; then Elizabeth got extremely ill. It's not unusual at all for the partner who wasn't ill to feel furious at the one who was and try to put some distance between them. People who have watched a spouse struggle with---and recover from---a potentially fatal illness often end up feeling secretly furious, helpless, guilty, and terrified.
You don't necessarily have to have a huge ego to feel you'd do anything to avoid going through it again or to take a stab at getting away from it. That Edwards does think well of himself is kid of beside the point.
It isn’t like we didn’t know that the son of a millworker was a little enraptured by himself, radiating self-love from his smile and his man-in-a-hurry airs and the notorious $800 bill for a pair of haircuts and his two-minute YouTube hair primping to the tune of “I Feel Pretty.”
Certain men assume that power confers sexual privilege. And in American politics, there is an eternal disjunction between character and achievement. Sinners do good things, saints do bad things.(NYT)
Yes, yes, we know all about your bemusement that a man could be as vain as you are. "Breck Girl" indeed.
John Edwards' achievements on behalf of the poor and on behalf of the middle class (health care) eventually will be seen---when the smoke clears and we regain our perspective--- to outweigh his personal failings.
What significant achievements will be chalked up to Maureen Dowd's name?
Oh, and while I'm at it, I'd like to thank the modest Sam Stein at HuffPost---OH HOW RIGHT YOU WERE---and the self-righteous Bonnie Fuller as well (that's a nice touch---call the devoted and incurably ill wife an "ambition enabler" who has "drunk her husband's Kool-Aid").
Read the commentary on the Dowd article here.