Note: Links in this post were updated in January 2008 to articles at the New York Times that became available when the newspaper took down its TimeSelect firewall in late 2007.
In the third-last paragraph of her October 21, 2006 “Obama’s Project Runway” column (the one that, luckily for Barack Obama, almost no one outside of Manhattan reads), the New York Times’ Maureen Dowd wrote this about Barack Obama:
He’s intriguingly imperfect: His ears stick out, he smokes, and he’s written about wrestling with pot, booze and ”maybe a little blow” as a young man.
On Sunday, December 10, roughly 50 days later, noted in a column by Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times, Obama took on Dowd over arguably the least relevant item in that sentence:
Obama is very sensitive about his press. After his press conference, he headed toward New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd and chided her — in a kidding way — for a comment in the 12th of 14 paragraphs in an Oct. 21 column. She wrote that Obama’s “ears stick out.”
“I just want to put you on notice,” he said.
“I was teased relentlessly when I was a kid about my big ears.”
Wow — 50 days later, the guy was still stewing over four words about his ears.
(Note: There appears to be a bit of debate over whether Obama was serious. Sweet obviously says “kidding” above. This commenter, and especially this one, at Lynn Sweet’s Sun-Times blog surely believe Obama was serious, as does Rush. Allah thinks he was kidding. I’ve heard it several times; I do NOT believe Obama was kidding [see more on his tone of voice later], and you don’t “put someone on notice” unless you’re serious.)
Rush played audio on Wednesday of the entire exchange (this may or may not work by the time you read this; it will probably load in your browser if it works) in a much longer show segment, and here’s the relevant portion (about 60% of the way through):
OBAMA (off mic): You talked about my ears, and I just want to put you on notice: I’m very sensitive about — What I told them was, ”I was teased relentlessly when I was a kid about my big ears.”
DOWD: We’re trying to toughen you up.
Put aside for the moment that Dowd would never cut a conservative politician a break like she just did to Obama in reaction to what he said. The exchange would be Exhibit A in her next column about what a weak, thin-skinned weenie the guy was.
But back to Dowd-Obama: The “ears thing” isn’t even the half of it.
Let’s look at a couple of other things MoDo has written about Obama recently.Here she is in her Nov. 11 column, four days after the mid-term elections:
Talking about hope and opportunity and inspiration has propelled Barack Obama into the presidential arena. His approach seems downright feminine when compared with the Bushies, or even Hillary Clinton. He languidly poses in fashion magazines, shares feelings with Oprah and dishes with the ladies on ”The View.”
Now to her Dec. 13 column — First the title (!), then the last two sentences.
Will Hillzilla Crush Obambi?
….. So there is a second question, perhaps one that will trump race and gender. It’s about whether he’s tough and she’s genuine.
Wow. Maureen Dowd has seen Barack Hussein Obama up close and personal. She has recognized the faux-forceful tenor of the voice that chided her and fears — nay, almost knows — that he is at best a fortysomething version of one of these. Even worse, she’s frightened to death that he could actually be one of these, or, conceivably, even one of these (item 3a at link).
MoDo knows her Democratic men, and she can spot serious trouble in a Democratic male candidate. It is clear from what she has written that she isn’t just trying to “toughen up” Barack Obama about his ears; no, she’s clearly worried that “toughening him up” is a comprehensive long-term project that has a high probability of turning out badly. I believe she would prefer that the project not be launched.
UPDATE: Here are links to a virtual Obamarama of “Earie” art and commentary — Return of the Conservatives, Riehl World View, Rush’s home page and supporting post (both will change Friday evening), Stuck on Stupid, Radio Equalizer, WmWms, American Harbinger, Hang Right Politics, Holy Coast, Right Jokester, and Church Militant.
UPDATE 2: America’s Next First Lady speaks to the Obama Ear Flap –
It’s not his big ears – but his big mouth that he should worry about. And now, Mrs. Obama, it’s your job to make him put a sock in it.
Geez, who’s the candidate here?