11/20/2006 02:01 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Maureen Dowd Has Already Started Trashing Pelosi

Maybe she wants another Pulitzer Prize, (like the one she was awarded after savaging Bill and Hillary Clinton for years); or maybe she wants to prove that she is "balanced" and not part of the dreaded "Liberal Media"; but for whatever reason, Maureen Dowd, who commands column inches in The New York Times that Katha Pollitt or Barbara Ehrenreich could only dream of, has officially set her tone for what her commentary on Nancy Pelosi will be for the next two years. The first woman Speaker of the House has not even assumed power yet and Ms. Dowd has already labeled the 66-year-old politician: "girlishly churlish."

Writes Dowd: "the first female speaker of the House flail[ed] around in her first big week in such a lame way. It reminded you of just how idiotic Democrats can act sometimes." She then goes on to posit that the only reason Pelosi had endorsed John Murtha to be the Majority Leader was because, in Dowd's own portrayal of the little, childlike voice in Pelosi's head: "John Murtha's my friend. He's been nice to me. I don't like Steny [Hoyer]. He did something a long time ago that I'm never, ever going to tell you. And I'm the boss of you. So vote for John."

An influential New York Times columnist, who purports to have "feminist" sensibilities, depicts Nancy Pelosi, who is about to assume the highest position a woman has ever achieved in United States history -- third in line for the presidency -- as a petulant little child? If David Brooks or John Tierny did the same thing they'd be rightly denounced as sexists. But Dowd, hiding behind her "femininity" gets to trash Pelosi in sexist terms without fear of being called on it.

Dowd is wrong. Pelosi did not endorse Murtha for "girlish" personal reasons; she endorsed him because he had been the first senior House Democrat to show the courage to call for pulling our troops out of Iraq over a year ago, a time when few others dared to take a stand. The midterm elections of 2006 were a referendum on the war in Iraq, and Murtha campaigned vigorously around the country for winning Democrats on that issue. Having Murtha in the high-profile position of Majority Leader in the new Congress would give added visibility to the anti-war wing of the party, and could help end the bloodbath. In her mocking commentary, Ms. Dowd does not even mention the Iraq war or Murtha's role in being the first to call for a "phased redeployment." Instead, she belittles Pelosi by claiming that only personal considerations entered into her decision to back Murtha.

Maureen Dowd should ask herself why she chooses to portray a powerful woman with liberal credentials as nothing more than an air-brained character from a chick lit novel. When she ascribes highly personalized motives for a powerful woman's political decisions, Dowd diminishes women in power generally, and sets back feminism in a more serious way than a thousand sexist jabs hurled by right-wing men about botox injections or face lifts.