Friday, January 16, 2004

It's Time for Dowd to Go I've never been a fan of Maureen Dowd. Still, I can understand how, during the Lewinsky mess, many people felt her snarky commentary captured the mood of the moment, and even served a therapeutic purpose.

I don't agree with that, but I can understand it.

But yesterday's attack on Judith Steinberg Dean crosses some kind of line.

To maintain the veneer of impartiality, Dowd tempers what is essentially a hatchet job with phrases like "seem to"; "you could easily image"; "many political analysts said that"; and "some...still thought it odd." But Dowd's word choice in two key grafs lets the cat out of the bag:

The first hard evidence most people had that Howard Dean was actually married came with a startling picture of his wife on the front page of Tuesday's Times, accompanying a Jodi Wilgoren profile.

In worn jeans and old sneakers, the shy and retiring Dr. Judith Steinberg Dean looked like a crunchy Vermont hippie, blithely uncoiffed, unadorned, unstyled and unconcerned about not being at her husband's side--the anti-Laura.

Now. Set aside for a moment whether this photo deserves to be categorized as "startling." And set aside, also, whether it makes Dr. Dean look like a "crunchy Vermont hippie."

My question is this: Does the paper of record really want to waste precious column inches on this wardrobe-as-destiny, Page-Six-style gossip?

CONTRAPOSITIVE is edited by Dan Aibel. Dan's a playwright. He lives in New York City.