Maureen Dowd gleefully adopts "henpecked into war" line

The New York Times columnist relishes an opportunity to mock powerful women and those weak Democratic men

Published March 23, 2011 3:54PM (EDT)

Was President Obama "henpecked" into waging war on Libya by his "Amazon warrior" female advisors? Only if you're shocked by the thought of women in positions of power actually asserting their power. It also helps if you consider skepticism of military engagement to be inherently "feminine" and think that getting convinced of something by a woman is in and of itself emasculating. And if you're Maureen Dowd you repeat all that stupid, backward cant, because you're the hard-charging award-winning New York Times columnist with the most retrograde conception of gender relations this side of Hays Code-era Hollywood.

Dowd's first paragraph is simply a list of clichéd terms for war-making women. In the rest of the column she purports to be simply compelled by the media attention paid to the role of Susan Rice, Samantha Power and Hillary Clinton in planning the Libyan campaign, but she is actually just reveling in the opportunity to call a Democratic male politician an effete weakling surrounded, as always, by ball-breaking bitches like Hillary. This is the primary theme of Dowd's work going back to the Clinton administration. There is little daylight between her "position" on the matter and Rush Limbaugh's, except that Rush is at least honest enough not to cloak his chauvinism in the trappings of irony.

There is something positively mythological about a group of strong women swooping down to shake the president out of his delicate sensibilities and show him the way to war. And there is something positively predictable about guys in the White House pushing back against that story line for fear it makes the president look henpecked.

Isn't that brilliant? It's soooo predictable that the White House would "push back" against the completely universal "story line" -- a "story line" that just appeared, organically -- that the president just launched a war to get those annoying women off his Beta Male back.

Apparently part of their "pushing back" involved patiently explaining to Maureen Dowd that the entire idiotic narrative she has based this column on is actually not even supported by the facts.

White House aides smacked back hard on the guys vs. girls narrative. A senior administration official e-mailed Politico’s Mike Allen that Power, Smith and Hillary Clinton weren’t even in the meeting where the president decided to move forward and tell Rice to seek authority at the U.N. for a no-fly zone.

Silly White House, trying to "spin" this story of a henpecked "ditherer chased by Furies" (actual phrase in this column!) by insisting that he came to a decision independently of those Valkyries. Maureen Dowd's not buying it! You can't spin away Maureen Dowd's bullshit with "facts," sirs!

(Over at the Corner, Jonah Goldberg makes fun of Maureen for writing that "everyone is fascinated with the gender flip." Which is fair enough -- Maureen Dowd's friends are hardly representative of anyone besides the worst that D.C. and Manhattan have to offer. But he still sort of whiffs it. The people who are "fascinated" by this utterly unfascinating and partly fantastical administration gender divide are largely ... conservative pundits and political reporters. "Maureen Dowd once again confuses the gals she has lunch with for everyone,'" Jonah writes. I guess he doesn't hang out with Corner contributor Mark Krikorian, as he seems to have mistaken him for a "gal.")

By Alex Pareene

Alex Pareene writes about politics for Salon and is the author of "The Rude Guide to Mitt." Email him at and follow him on Twitter @pareene

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Barack Obama Hillary Rodham Clinton Libya The New York Times War Room