POLITICS

Dowd Returns To Form In Josh Marshall-Free Column

06/20/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

One of the ironic things about Maureen Dowd's last, infamous column is that at first glance, people were struck by the sudden emergence of intelligence. Most hilariously, Salon's Glenn Greenwald called it an "uncharacteristically cogent and substantive column" a day before he learned that Dowd had basically retweeted a paragraph from the typically cogent and substantive Josh Marshall.

Of course, it's irresponsibly glib of me to suggest that the Josh Marshall portion of that column was solely responsible for doing the heavy lifting required to ring the bells of "cogent" and "substantive." In case you were worried it might be a trend, fear not: Dowd's latest column is out and the shallow, prating nonsense you've come to enjoy and, in some cases, pay extra money for, for a time, for some reason, is back! With a vengeance.

Yes, it's the return of a familiar Dowdian trope, the wafer-thin-feather-light mini-playlet, in which the characters -- in this case Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney -- hold a dialogue that neatly distills all the conventional wisdom Dowd has noticed coming out of the mouths of pundits. In this latest edition, Rummy and Cheney go to DC's Cafe Milano to eat free range quail (Dowd, whose populist streak becomes engorged whenever the image of a John Edward coiffure hits her brainpan, nevertheless enjoys flaunting her intimate knowledge of $31 risottos) and discuss Cheney's "third term."

That's what a grab bag of Obama's foreign policy decisions amount to, for Dowd, and there's no indication that she understands the ramifications of any of it -- detainee photos, military commissions, Afghanistan -- beyond the "this gives Dick Cheney the jollies" aspect. For whatever cogency or substance she displayed yesterday, she's happily back to being the New York Times' Accidental Tourist of politics.

Anyway, here's how an actual meeting of Rumsfeld and Cheney at Cafe Milano would go. Rummy would be late because he's terrified of buses and incapable of finding his way around DC without the help of a phalanx of thugs, Cheney would spend half of the time letting his daughter fight his battles and revise his history, and Code Pink would show up, scream at them, and ruin the risotto for the rest of the diners. Meanwhile, those without the need to be thought of as savvy, political scenesters would go on with their lives, free of the pretense that Dick Cheney is some sort of puppetmaster, fully aware that Obama owns his own mistakes from here on out, the end.

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