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Dowd’s Throat Clearing


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Jonah Goldberg

DOWD’S THROAT-CLEARING
Maureen Dowd writes an interesting piece in today’s New York Times about the mail she receives. It probably reads as throat-clearing to most, but I found it very interesting nonetheless. I presume that she gets a lot more mail than I do. But the trends are similar, I think. Fortunately, I get almost no conservative hate mail. The explanation doesn’t seem too complicated. Since I am perceived as a vested member in the Right Wing Conspiracy by birth, by deed, and by belief, I am fairly immune to conservative criticism.

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Except in two instances the forces of truth and light have been on my side. The two exceptions are instructive. First, I recently wrote that Bill Clinton should not be compared to Stalin or Hitler. I believe this for two reasons. One: Clinton, though a bad man, is not involved in genocide. His crimes — as far as we know and as far as I can imagine — are American crimes of pettiness, greed, and hubris. They are not crimes of pure evil. Two, the victims and survivors of the Nazi Holocaust and the Soviet purges should not have their plight trivilialized. To call Bill Clinton a Stalin is a smear against Stalin’s victims far more than it is a smear of Bill Clinton.

The second exception to my spotless record came when I suggested that Bill Clinton may not be a murderer. Considering people’s disagreement with the above, it is not surprising that they would find fault with this assertion. Nevertheless, with maybe one e-mail to the contrary, all disagreements on these points were civil and adult.

But what I find interesting in Dowd’s column is the criticism she gets from her liberal readers. Dowd is a snarky writer, but an excellent one. She observes that liberals (as well as conservatives) identify her sex life as the source of her bile toward the President (the Conservatives identify it as the source of her defense of Clinton — which presumably takes the form of attacking Ken Starr). I find this a fascinating phenomenon. The liberals do it to me, too. My mail runs disproportionately pro, but a sizable amount of my con mail comes from liberals who like to do two things — attack my mother (and Linda Tripp) on aesthetic grounds and attack me for allegedly being gay. Now, I’m not gay. I have no plans to become gay. And I am not particularly interested in even giving it a try. But what is fascinating is that these same “Don’t ask, Don’t Tell” liberals are outraged — outraged! — about the alleged assault on Bill Clinton’s personal sex life. And yet, the worst thing these people can imagine is to mock me for being gay. It’s sort of amazing when you think about it. These are the same liberals who defend to the death alternative lifestyles, the President’s right to nearly deviant and rampantly adulterous sexual behavior — so long as its “private” (a word without meaning today), and who attack Ken Starr for delving into people’s private lives. And yet, they are offended, or think I should be offended, by the charge that I am gay.

In the same vein they attack my mother and Linda Tripp because of their appearances or because of some imaginary sexual status. Not surprisingly, the free New York weekly, The New York Press (I am told) recently ran a piece about a rumor that my mom and Linda Tripp are lesbian lovers. A year ago, I would have driven to New York, found the reporter or the rumormongers, and thrashed them about the head and neck with a broken bottle (Sid Blumenthal, stock up on Band-Aids and iodine). Now, I just find it ridiculous and pathetic. It is a sign that the Left is leaking intellectual rigor and moral seriousness at a phenomenal rate. I will still likely open a fresh can of whup-ass on someone who speaks that way about my mother to my face. But in general these jackasses do themselves the greater harm by opening their mouths.

But for the record: My mom — married for over thirty years to, of all people, my wonderful Dad — is about as gay as Bill Clinton is monogamous (Ditto Linda Tripp, as far as I know).



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