Eat The Press


New York Times

It's been a few days now since Maureen Dowd offered Times Select subscribers her take on The John Edwards Haircut story. We've read it, re-read it, consulted the oracle at Delphi, relaxed with some low-grade antidepressants, briefly considered taking up macrame to distract us, and hired Lost aficianados to try to divine a deeper meaning through hidden anagrams. All to no avail. We don't get it. And we have a few lingering questions.

  • In a week full of import, how is it possible that Maureen Dowd was still inhaling the vaporous remnants of this has-been story? Even if there wasn't bigger news in the national consciousness, the very fact that Steve Doocy has offered his own red-nosed-and-floppy-shoed schtick on the story indicates that this story was played out by at least a week.
  • The lede: "Whether or not the country is ready to elect a woman president or a black president, it's definitely not ready for a metrosexual in chief." Uhm...evidence, much? Anything to back up this blind assertion? And, can voter outrage on Edward's "metrosexuality" be put in a context that's fully removed from the media's effort to manufacture that outrage?
  • Wait! There's a politician out there that's vain? Stop the press--*snore!*
  • Is it the "metrosexuality" that bugs America, or the wealth? Because when Dowd offers us the saga of her father, "a police detective who was in charge of Senate security [who] got haircuts at the Senate barbershop for 50 cents," she's moving the conversation into a place far beyond exfolients. She's haranguing Edwards on being extravagant and out of touch with the middle class. The problem is: America provided unambiguous support to either George W. Bush or John Kerry in the last election, and both men are well known to be richer than Croesus. Bush, himself, received a full-body makeover to transform himself from a well-heeled New England aristocrat to a Texas rancher--and he obviously has hired people to restore the "brush" he clears so he can keep on clearing it!
  • And, as far as being out of touch with everyday, fifty-cent haircut sporting schlubs, both Bush and Kerry are members of the Skull and Bones Society. Now, we're not saying that their members regularly sup upon filet of Komodo dragon or croques monsieurs dipped in the batter of bald eagle eggs, but if we ourselves wanted to sample those delicacies, we wouldn't hesitate to ask a Bonesman. If Edwards is only receiving $400 haircuts, maybe the more trenchant story is that he is not out of touch with the middle class enough.
  • Is it that Dowd, herself is offended by the extravagant display of affluence? You sure wouldn't take that away from her introduction to Bushworld--trailing Poppy Bush from the golf course to boating at Kennebunkport, she sure seems right at home. Who picked up the check at that New Year's Eve dinner with Brent Scowcroft, Maureen? Surely it wasn't at the Blimpie on Queens Boulevard?

In other words, Matt Taibbi warned us about this:

...I've started to see the first examples of what I call the "Sweet n' Blow" campaign article hit the front pages in recent weeks. The Sweet n' Blow, as the name suggests, is a no-calorie substitute for real journalism, a gossip column masquerading as political reportage. It's one of the key techniques for use in turning the election into a politics-free character drama.

Hopefully, Governor Mike Huckabee, who slimmed down considerably to make his own run at the Oval Office, didn't lose all that weight using Jenny Craig. Because God knows Dowd will just pen some column titled, "Huckabee has Every Meal Prepared For Him by a Team of Nutritional Experts--Like He Was the King of Luxembourg or Something! Jeez!" And then we'll be charged more than one of her father's haircuts to read it.

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