Dowd and Coulter

I’m getting tired of writing so much about Ann Coulter but there continues to be a stream of interesting things to which to react. Julian Sanchez reminds us that Dorothy Rabinowitz dubbed Coulter “the Maureen Dowd of the conservatives” in a July 2003 WSJ column and that he shortened that to “MoDoCon,” which Radley Balko and others have used ever since.

I noted that the other day when researching some of the things I had written about Coulter, including my liveblogging her remarks at CPAC 2005 alongside Balko. It occurred to me that the comparison was likely no longer apt, in that Coulter had probably moved well beyond Dowd in sheer obnoxiousness but that I couldn’t say for sure because Dowd has been hiding behind a subscription wall for so long that I don’t know if she’s kept up.

A piece in the Daily Howler (also pointed to by Sanchez) indicates that, perhaps, she has.

[W]hy should pundits criticize Coulter when she describes Dem males as big “f*ggots?” It’s very similar to the gender-based “analysis” their dauphine, the Comptesse Maureen Dowd, has long offered. In Dowd’s work, John Edwards is routinely “the Breck Girl”(five times so far—and counting), and Gore is “so feminized that he’s practically lactating.” Indeed, two days before we voted in November 2000, Dowd devoted her entire column, for the sixth time, to an imaginary conversation between Gore and his bald spot. “I feel pretty,” her headline said (pretending to quote Gore’s inner thoughts).That was the image this idiot wanted you carrying off to the voting booth with you! Such is the state of Maureen Dowd’s broken soul. And such is the state of her cohort.

And now, in the spirit of fair play and brotherhood, she is extending this type of “analysis” to Barack Obama. In the past few weeks, she has described Obama as “legally blonde” (in her headline); as “Scarlett O’Hara” (in her next column); as a “Dreamboy,” as “Obambi,” and now, in her latest absurd piece, as a “schoolboy” (text below). Do you get the feeling that Dowd may have a few race-and-gender issues floating around in her inane, tortured mind? But this sort of thing is nothing new for the comptesse. Indeed, such imagery almost defines the work of this loathsome, inane Antoinette.

Coulter has been visibly disturbed ever since hitting cable in the mid-90s. But Dowd is a borderline nutcase too—a slightly cleaned up version of Coulter. (Ah, we Irish! Yes, each had an Irish Catholic dad.) Coulter comes right out and calls Dem men “f*ggots”—but Maureen Dowd has always come close. Just as Chris Matthews is a slightly cleaned-up William Donohue, Dowd is a more presentable Coulter. For mainstream voters, Maureen is easier to take. For that reason, she has done us more harm.

That’s pretty harsh. Still, thinks it’s a good thing for people to be more critical of the excesses of their own than of the opposition.

What’s interesting, though, is that, whatever impact Dowd and Coulter (and Matthews and Donohue) have had on the internal debates within their parties, there’s no contest in terms of the PR damage they’ve done. Matthews and Dowd are both celebrated journalists, while Coulter and Donohue are treated by the mainstream commentariat with contempt. Perhaps it’s a matter of ideological or cultural bias or that the former are just a bit more sophisticated in how they frame their slurs.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Billy says:

    It’s actually a very apt comparison. The real difference is in packaging (Dowd’s prose is readable, at least), but the invective is really just as rancorous from Dowd as it is from Coulter, and at times is nearly as juvenile.

  2. Tano says:

    Excuse me, but I sense y’all are missing something obvious here.

    Coulter is the Dowd of conservatives? That means that Dowd is the Coulter of liberals? And as proof of this we see Dowd doing what? Mocking, over the top references to John Edwards, Al Gore, and Barack Obama?

    I mean,,,,hello?

  3. Mike says:

    Just wanted to say I’ve been waiting awhile to see Matthews included with this class of “journalists”.

  4. carpeicthus says:

    Right, they’re all jackasses who mainly criticize Dems for vacuous reasons. That MoDo also criticizes the GOP for vacuous reasons doesn’t make her a Coulter mirror-image. The point is they often work together.

  5. LaurenceB says:

    Tano makes a good point.

  6. bains says:

    I think more important than trying to weigh (and balance) the outrage committed by each sides firebrands (which will always be subject to partisan subjectivity), is the reactions within the middle echelons – the small market Op/Ed’ers – who have developed listenerships/readerships based upon their perceived veracity. In this area, it is quite clear that the left is much more apt to circle the wagons whereas the right verbally fires upon their own.