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Nina Burleigh

Nina Burleigh

Posted: November 16, 2005 03:28 PM

Hanging with his Home-ettes


Just when we thought there couldn’t possibly be anyone left in the known world to hype Maureen Dowd’s new book, along comes news that President Bush has retreated from male companionship and is maintaining “daily contact with only four people” - Barbara Bush, Laura Bush, Karen Hughes and Condoleeza Rice.

This astonishing factoid comes via Drudge, quoting the Washington Times’ Insight Magazine. Insight, a Moonie publication with solid right-wing sources and no friend to feminists, can’t be suspected of being on the Dowd publicity payroll. The only conclusion left to draw is that W himself is in cahoots with the “flame-haired flamethrower” or has, as his former confidantes Rumsfeld and Cheney must see it, gone “soft.”

“Sources close to the White House say that Mr. Bush has become isolated and feels betrayed by key officials,” according to Drudge. “The sources said Mr. Bush maintains daily contact with only four people: first lady Laura Bush, his mother, Barbara Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Undersecretary of State Karen Hughes. The sources also say that Mr. Bush has stopped talking with his father, except on family occasions.”

That Mo Dowd hasn’t snapped up this delicious tidbit for a column can only be due to her book tour. Expect to see a satiricall riff on it as soon as book leave is over.

This news arrived on a day when the front pages were packed with evidence of how anti-female this administration is and continues to be. Judge Alito was exposed as not only opposed to abortion for married women but opposed to abortion, period. And the Bush FDA was revealed to have forbidden the morning-after pill to pander to its anti-female base, rather than based on scientific evidence.
The juxtaposition of these two images is delicious. The President has retreated to the pumpkin-pie and lavender-scented confines of mommy, wife, Condi and Karen, Meanwhile, his boys continue to expend whatever energy they have left over from war-making to trample on the most basic female right of all, the right to reproductive control.

It’s unfortunate that W waited until his administration was collapsing around him to choose bunker-mates from what used to be called the distaff side. There is no reason to believe that this particular quartet of females would have kept us out of Iraq, even in an imaginary world without Rumsfeld, Cheney, Wolfowitz or Feith. But the mere fact that the President has chosen to bring girls, not boys, into the bunker with him now should give Dowd some talking points.
On that subject - and I must admit I have not read the book - let’s digress for a moment to the central premise of “Are Men Necessary?”

Like W himself, Maureen is a latecomer to the realization that men aren’t necessary. It’s easy to be a starched feminist when you’re over fifty and the available pool of decent men has been herded into marriage and fatherhood. It’s not quite so easy to practice the philosophy as a nubile twenty-something just starting out in journalism.

I have met Maureen Down on a few occasions and always found her to be unfailingly personable. She is a girlfriend’s girl, not a man’s woman ready to stick the shiv of her stilleto in when you turned around. That said, men were always necessary and she did also know how to work the guys. She has a breathy, Jackie-O way of talking, which Washington men even in our generation still find impossible to resist. Working the guys has always been part of her shtick, and more power to her for managing to do that and still be a girlfriend.

On the other hand, she doesn’t seem to have spent enough time listening to her own mother, whose wisdom she apparently credits in the book, as she has occasionally in the Times. I’d like to know what Mo-Mom had to say, for instance, when her daughter was dating kooky people like allegedly sex-addicted Michael Douglas, and that crack-smoking Hollywood screenwriter? Aren’t they exactly the kind of “un-necessary” accoutrements a girl should long ago have learned to avoid?

Contrary to the book’s premise, there actually are worthwhile, dare I say even necessary, men around. They just don’t all come in power-packages that catch the flame-thrower’s eye. And they certainly can’t be found within a block of the Oval Office, which is why W has taken Mo’s advice to heart, and hunkered down with his home-ettes.

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