Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Dowd is Back; Citizen Cain isn't Happy

Maureen Dowd returns to the op-ed page of the New York Times today. Time off hasn't changed her preference for rhetoric over thought. A good column could have been written about the Bush administration's lousy management of the Iraq war, or about its efforts to keep bad news about Iraq out of public consciousness-- witness Bush's failure to show up at any military funerals and the Defense Department's prohibition on filming the transport of military coffins.

But this column, built around Cindy Sheehan, the protesting mother of a slain Iraqi soldier, isn't it. Dowd has the rare ability to irritate me even when she's writing things I basically agree with. For one thing, there's her maddening mixture of moral condemnation (she thinks that Bush is only "selectively humane") with crass political calculation-- "It's amazing that the White House does not have the elementary shrewdness to have Mr. Bush simply walk down the driveway and hear the woman out, or invite her in for a cup of tea." Her tone in this column, and in nearly everything she writes, makes it obvious that what she really despises is politicians who don't do a good job at managing the news. There are downright silly accusations-- Bush's dispatch of his national security advisor to talk to Sheehan illustrates "the inhumane humanitarianism of his foreign policy." But most of all, there's that preposterous conclusion:
But his humanitarianism will remain inhumane as long as he fails to understand that the moral authority of parents who bury children killed in Iraq is absolute.

Does Dowd really believe this? She might reconsider when other parents of children killed in Iraq tell her that she should "support the troops" by reporting only good news from Iraq. Is their moral authority absolute? Of course not, but once again, Dowd chooses rhetoric over thought.