October 23, 2005


When Divas Collide: Maureen Dowd v. Judy Miller (ALEXANDER COCKBURN, 10/23/05, CounterPunch)

Would you pay $49.95 to watch women wrestling in mud? I did this morning, and it was well worth the expense. I get the New York Times Online and until a couple of weeks ago all the features were free. Then, as some of you have no doubt discovered, the NYT's columnists started to have only their opening sentences on free display. To get the full columns of Krugman, Rich, Dowd and the others you have to pony up $49.95 a year's subscription to Times Select.

I held off until today when the Times nailed the sale with Dowd's column titled, "Woman of Mass Destruction" and her ominous opening sentence, "I've always liked Judy Miller".

Miller has been the sport of a million stories and there was nothing much by way of startling revelations in what Dowd wrote, but in operatic terms it was as though Maria Callas had suddenly rushed onto the stage and slugged Elizabeth Schwartzkopf.

After that enticing lead, designed to make online readers fish out their credit cards, Dowd spent five paragraphs sketching Miller's profile as a power-mad egomaniac, (demanding Dowd's chair at a White House briefing) before drop kicking her in the face with the blunt accusations that she's a liar and--a thought first expressed in this column the day Miller went behind bars--that "her stint in the Alexandria jail was in part a career rehabilitation project".

Then, with Judy down on the canvas, Dowd came flying down from the corner post, with her knee on Judy's throat:

Judy told The Times that she plans to write a book and intends to return to the newsroom, hoping to cover "the same thing I've always covered - threats to our country." If that were to happen, the institution most in danger would be the newspaper in your hands.

Moral: Don't ever take Maureen Dowd's chair at a White House briefing.

The public isn't likely to enjoy the spectacle much, but for political junkies what could be more fun than watching as the realignment of American politics puts former allies of convenience on the Left and on the Right at each other's throats with long knives?

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 23, 2005 1:08 PM

I haven't seen a rant as spiteful, ignorant, and incoherent against a former ally since, since, well since George Will's column this weekend.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at October 23, 2005 1:15 PM

Sounds like the end times of an old order.

Posted by: ghostcat at October 23, 2005 2:26 PM

What's the realignment? What are the sides?

Posted by: Rick Perlstein at October 23, 2005 2:28 PM

Yes! Can't wait for David Frum, Bush's former speechwriter and self-proclaimed minter of the phrase "axis of evil," to run his anti-Miers ads. The "Movement" Republicans are evacuating their bowels and throwing the excrement at the Theocons and the Neocons. No more "Sig Heil!", Baby!

Posted by: Tadakira Mutsu at October 23, 2005 2:58 PM

Rick - There's some speculation that the Wilsons had a meeting at their house with Pincus, Kristof, and Corn to plan their assault on the Bush administration, and that Miller knew of this -- and testified to it -- thus showing that Wilson & Plame released Plame's identity to the media long before any administration official discussed the topic with the media. If so, it's possible the investigation could redound against the NY Times.

Posted by: pj at October 23, 2005 3:01 PM

PJ - then why is everyone convinced and acting like Rove and Libby will be behind bars soon?

Posted by: AWW at October 23, 2005 3:27 PM

AWW: because the media thinks they have something on Rove and Libby and thus Bush. I've always doubted it, for various reasons, but largely because the NY Times behavior wouldn't make sense if that were true. Why would the Times tear itself to pieces to protect Rove? Or even to protect Miller? I believe the agonies we see are because they *don't* have anything on Bush & Co., and that in fact the truth will make the Times look bad, something like PJ's speculation above.

Posted by: PapayaSF at October 23, 2005 3:43 PM

AWW - Good question. There's elements in this that don't fit into any rational explanation. So clearly there's a lot of mystification going on. Fitzgerald's investigation has probably been devoted for some time toward luring someone into false statements under oath. But who? Journalists? Or the Bush administration? He doesn't seem that interested in going after the CIA.

I think the most likely outcomes are a close to the investigation, with no report, or the empanelling of a new grand jury with a continued investigation into the leads opened by Judith Miller's recent testimony -- including calling to the stand Kristof, Plame, and others who haven't yet testified.

Posted by: pj at October 23, 2005 4:21 PM

Orrin, what's the realignment?

Posted by: Rick Perlstein at October 23, 2005 4:56 PM

Is asking "Orrin, what's the realignment" like asking Dan "Kenneth" Rather, "what's the frequency?"

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at October 23, 2005 5:06 PM

I just don't understand what he's talking about. Judith Miller was always on the admnistration team, and was always despised by every liberal. The depths of that hatred is shown by the extraordinary act of one Timesman attacking another in print. Where was the "alliance of convenience" between someone like Dowd and Judith Miller?

Posted by: Rick Perlstein at October 23, 2005 5:27 PM

admnistration (sic) team...despised by every liberal...depths of that hatred

You're right, Rick. Nothing new here at all.

Posted by: joe shropshire at October 23, 2005 5:54 PM

If by 'administration team' you are referring to the Clinton Administration, you're on to something.

Clinton and the CIA benefited enormously from MSM fixation on possible Iraqi WMD programs. It kept everyone's eyes off the failure to keep the NorKs, Iranians, and others from making progress in their nuclear programs during the 1990's. The Iraq Regime Change Act was the signal for the Dem-symps in the CIA to juice Iraqi WMD estimates since they all knew that Clinton would never engage in a serious effort to overthrow Saddam. (Judy and Maureen were on the same team back then.)

The CIA, like any bureaucracy, was slow to change course after W was elected (made worse by Tenet still being in charge) and continued to throw out over-estimates of Iraqi WMD capabilities, which the MSM continued to lap up. They finally woke up to the situation post-9/11 and began desperate row-backs in an attempt to derail OIF, culminating in the Sixteen-Words-Wilson-Plame op. They never figured that W would give OIF the green-light regardless of what anybody said about Iraq's WMDs (or lack thereof).

Posted by: Chris B at October 23, 2005 6:33 PM


Yes, someone like Judith Miller who actually cared about conditions in Iraq is naturally a Republican now.

The general realignment though will be along universalist religious/moral/cultural lines. Secularists, libertarians and isolationists will drift Left. The religious in the Democratic party, especially blacks and Latinos, will drift Right. There'll be a moralistic Third Way GOP that's interventionist and a socially permissive Second Way Democratic Party that's isolationist.

Posted by: oj at October 23, 2005 6:38 PM

If only they would use real knives.

Posted by: Mikey at October 23, 2005 11:07 PM

Some of your fantasies are so beyond reason I just ignore them. One of them is that blacks will drift or are drifting right. Are you aware of President Bush's latest job approval rating among African Americans? I'd love to see you guys guess.

Posted by: Rick Perlstein at October 23, 2005 11:40 PM


If you believe that 2% poll, which interviewed 873 people, and was heavily skewed Democratic, then you really deserve all the scorn you get here.

Bush's rating in the black community is probably about what he got in the election last November, 11%. Do you seriously think conservative black voters are going to swallow the NAACP talking points and do the Democratic dance again?

Posted by: jim hamlen at October 24, 2005 12:20 AM

Rick: Short view vs. long view. Or do you believe that GWB will be President in perpetuity?

Posted by: MB at October 24, 2005 12:20 AM

Why do Republicans presume black voters can't think for themselves and some how are only duped into their political allegiance to Democrats?

Posted by: Rick Perlstein at October 24, 2005 12:34 AM

Black voters can think for themselves, which is why GenX and younger Blacks are willing to vote for GOP candidates at far higher rates than are older Blacks.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 24, 2005 1:22 AM

Substitute "Kansans" for "black voters" and swap Republicans for Democrats and you've pretty much got Thomas Frank's argument, right? Not that you're projecting or anything.

Posted by: joe shropshire at October 24, 2005 2:15 AM

The belief that the GOP will gain more of the black vote is based on polls on individual issues. I don't remember the exact numbers but significantly more than 11% of blacks (usually in the 40% or more range) are against gay marriage, are against abortion, are for school vouchers, are for tax cuts, are for social security reform, etc. In other words they don't line up with the current Democrat party they are voting 90% for. At some point, and as Michael points out it may be beginning, blacks will vote along issue lines rather than as a bloc for the Democrats.

Posted by: AWW at October 24, 2005 7:09 AM

Kind of bizarre that the proof blacks can think for themselves is that 2% of them do.

Posted by: oj at October 24, 2005 8:55 AM