Tue 6 Aug 2013
Comments Off on A dowdy pundit and an easy target
Some journalist pundits follow the Barnum and Bailey freakocentric approach to writing for the public. It really does not matter if they lean to the left or right, since it is never clear where a rational media center would be. I am actually glad that opinion page and editorial commentaries are amalgamated into the acronymical “op-ed” since it removes the genre further away from being taken seriously. There is plenty of hanging red meat around, a recent example being the New York electoral season with former governor Eliot Spitzer running for city comptroller and former congressman Anthony Weiner attempting to fill the shoes of Mayor Bloomburg. Here are two seasoned politicians with two glaring things in common: both fell from grace due to excessive sexual interests and both have wives who have not taken the route of former South Carolina governor Mark Sanford’s wife and jilted.
The tabloids are in paradise over these two. So why not the New York Times as well? I guess that is what prompted Maureen Dowd to unleash her op-edible wit and take down “Carlos Danger” AKA Anthony Weiner. In her piece for Sunday, July 28, she began with the following rhetorical volley:
WHEN you puzzle over why the elegant Huma Abedin is propping up the eel-like Anthony Weiner, you must remember one thing: Huma was raised in Saudi Arabia, where women are treated worse by men than anywhere else on the planet. Comparatively speaking, the pol from Queens probably seems like a prince.
When I puzzle over these opening lines, I am not able to forget one thing: Maureen Dowd must have learned everything she thinks she knows about Saudi Arabia from watching the movie Sex and the City 2. I wonder how many Saudi women she has interviewed to assert that they are treated worse than anywhere else on the planet. Really, the planet? Is she thinking of Planet Hollywood? If having to wear a certain form of dress in public and not being able to drive a car is as bad as it can get for a woman on this planet, I can think of women in many countries, including some in our own, who would gladly change places with women in one of the richest, welfare-based societies in the world.
In going for the cute line, Dowd glosses over the reality that women are indeed abused and mistreated in many places on this planet. The problem stems not from a single country nor a specific religious sect nor even an economic class. Women are abused everywhere. Anthony Weiner did not physically abuse his wife nor the girls he flirted with; if anything he abused himself by ruining his career. He is no Ariel Castro, who kept three women captive as sex slaves in a Cleveland suburb for a decade. He is no Indian ruffian who participates in gang rape of a woman, nor a Taliban fanatic who throws acid in the face of a young school girl. If Dowd wants to talk about bad treatment of women, there is much to choose from in the real world she avoids.
I am not defending Weiner, who sounds more like a character out of Philip Roth novel than a real person with political ambitions. But Weiner is a laughing stock because he was caught; consider that the porn industry rakes in billions of dollars each year and you realize that there are many, many men who see women as sex objects only and playthings for their fantasies. The question I have is why go after his wife, who has every right to make up her own mind about the man she married. If every woman whose husband screwed up (literally or by twittering flirtations) left a marriage, our divorce rate would probably double overnite. Making fun of Weiner is fine; he is a jerk and asks for it. But would Dowd have made the snide remark about Saudi Arabia if Huma had not been Muslim? By the way, Huma was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan (Yes, the same Kalamzaoo that the Glenn Miller band made famous), both her parents had Ph.D.s and came from India and Pakistan. Although she grew up in Arabia from the age of 2-18, she comes from a privileged family.
Weiner is an easy target, too easy in fact. He is countless fodder for the tabloids, twitterings and blogs, but what purpose does it serve – other than outright prejudice – to drag his wife and small child over the op-unedifying coals. It was a cheap shot and shows what a dowdy pundit she can be.