The New York Times Op-Ed columnist keeping world leaders in check
Sydney Opera House
21 Aug 2018
In a political climate strangled by fear, the strongest voices of opposition often emerge from the media. Maureen Dowd is one of these voices – an opinion columnist for TheNew York Times since 1983, she’s covered nine presidential elections, including Reagan in 1984; both Bushes (H. in 1988, W. in 2000); the Clinton family (Bill in 1992, Hillary in 2016); and Donald Trump. Here are five of Dowd’s most-read columns where she held some of the world's most influential political and cultural figures in the world to account for abuses of power.
“Obama — Just Too Good for Us”
Dowd has never let anyone off the hook, including Barack Obama. In June 2018, Ben Rhodes, Obama's Deputy National Security Advisor (2009 – 2017) released a book – edging on a novel – that turns the White House inside out for the public to see. Dowd characterises Rhodes' book as an account of his friendship with Obama, and the tense moments during the presidency.
"Even though he could make magic – like the time he sang 'Amazing Grace' at a funeral for black parishioners murdered by a white supremacist in South Carolina – Obama did not like persuading people to do what they didn’t want to do. And that is the definition of politics. He wanted them simply to do what he had ascertained to be right."
Dowd takes on both Clintons at once, addressing their nonchalance in bending the law. In 2009, Hillary was sworn in as Secretary of State. Immediately prior, she had used a personal email for all correspondence instead of a “@state.gov” email. The F.B.I. pardoned this breach of protocol on two occasions, and Dowd doesn't let the Bureau or James Comey, its former Director, forget it.
"Hillary willfully put herself above the rules – again – and a president, campaign and party are all left twisting themselves into pretzels defending her. Obama aimed to have no shadows, but the Clintons operate in shadows."
As a Catholic herself, Dowd is unafraid to remind us what the Church once stood for, and what its priests and leaders might need to do to maintain a faith where hypocrisy overrides.
"The church is dying from a thousand cuts. Its cover-up has cost a fortune and been a betrayal worthy of Judas. The money spent came from social programs, Catholic schools and the poor. This should be a sin that cries to heaven for vengeance."
With a groundbreaking investigation published in The New Yorker, Ronan Farrow broke the story that would kickstart a global moment against sexual assault. Dowd points out that this is nothing new, citing eighty years of tales of unforgivable behaviour by male film executives towards female actresses. Behind his front as a successful producer – championing films fronted by formidable women and supporting Hillary's presidential campaign – Weinstein’s treatment of women behind closed hotel doors was an evil he kept hidden.
"Often the actresses scrambled, trying to figure out how to get out of the room without having their futures shredded by the vindictive satyr, who also threatened to destroy actresses who balked at wearing dresses designed by his wife Georgina Chapman’s fashion label on the red carpet."
Dowd saves her greatest rebukes for the current POTUS. She reminds Donald that he never wanted to be called a “politician”, and indeed he will never be remembered as being one. Dowd says it best:
"They’re counting on you being a delusional dupe who didn’t even know what was in the bill because you’re sitting around in a bathrobe getting your information from wackadoodles on Fox News and then, as The Post reported, peppering aides with the query, “Is this really a good bill?” You got played."