Join 3,516 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


They don't mean it
October 14, 2002 3:44 AM   Subscribe

They don't mean it Maureen Dowd suggests an Orwellian vision in Washington, wherein the Democrats and their Republican opponents say what they don't mean and mean what they don't say.
posted by Postroad (29 comments total)

 
(Still reading the article, but... Postroad, please don't post links to printer-only versions that throw up a print dialog box! Especially on the IHT site, which may have some of the most beautiful, ad-free site design on the web...)
posted by delfuego at 4:30 AM on October 14, 2002


Here's the regular link on IHT.
posted by rcade at 4:35 AM on October 14, 2002


I find Dowd almost entirely useless, so I'm not suprised to see this line from the article:
But somebody forgot to tell the Osama lieutenant Ayman Zawahiri, who says the war on Iraq justifies more terrorist attacks.
In an article about doublespeak, look who Dowd takes at his word.
posted by rcade at 4:40 AM on October 14, 2002


delfuego, I went to look at the IHT site on the strength of your comments - nice design, but the version I'm looking at is plastered with Nokia and Shell ads?
posted by jiroczech at 4:56 AM on October 14, 2002


jiroczech: yeah, the front page is, but the article pages are ad-free, so far as I can tell (and remember).
posted by delfuego at 5:08 AM on October 14, 2002


Heh. I use Mr. Zeldman's ad-blocking script, and all is well with the IHT...
posted by adamgreenfield at 5:20 AM on October 14, 2002


It's pretty easy to click the "cancel" button on the printer version.
posted by hama7 at 5:25 AM on October 14, 2002


I must apologize for my ignorance in all things technical...sorry.
posted by Postroad at 6:28 AM on October 14, 2002


jiroczech, only the front page,stories contain little or no ads.
posted by madmanz123 at 7:56 AM on October 14, 2002


However, the Dodd piece is very funny, only it ain't funny is it?
posted by donfactor at 7:58 AM on October 14, 2002


That's the nature of rhetoric. Statements are calculated not to be genuinely insightful, but to trigger certain kinds of responses from a large audience. Alas, a great many people neither comprehend nor appreciate insight so much as they fall in love with strong oratory.
posted by mattpfeff at 8:02 AM on October 14, 2002


Q: What's the difference between Dianne Feinstein and Strom Thurmond?
A: Nothing. They're both politicians.
posted by mischief at 8:12 AM on October 14, 2002


I find Dowd almost entirely useless, so I'm not suprised to see this line from the article:

But somebody forgot to tell the Osama lieutenant Ayman Zawahiri, who says the war on Iraq justifies more terrorist attacks.

In an article about doublespeak, look who Dowd takes at his word.


Absolutely irrelevant, in this context you could substitute Zawahiri for any other even vaguely anti-American denizen of the Middle East/practitioner of Islam and you would hear the exact same words. Zawahiri is simply used here because he's the closest thing to the pope of said group that we have around to nab quotes off of.

Kindly stick to whether Dowd is right or wrong, instead of trying to make meaningless nitpicks that do not impact her point at all - it could be Abu Al Fin from a carpet shop in Baghdad and you'd get the same answer. Everybody in the region would say 'duh, this justifies more terrorism because you're acting like imperialist scum.' Zawahiri just happens to be a little more of an authority on the topic of terrorism. Abu' have a point, too, and it won't change America's course of action a bit.

Where Dowd goes wrong is in vaguely implying this will result in something like Armageddon when in fact it will be a lot more like some fields in Cambodia.
posted by Ryvar at 8:22 AM on October 14, 2002


Where Dowd goes wrong is in vaguely implying this will result in something like Armageddon

If political commentators couldn't imply everything will result in Armageddon, how would they fill the op-ed pages?
posted by languagehat at 8:47 AM on October 14, 2002


rcade finds Maureen Dowd "entirely useless." He proceeds to read an article by Maureen Dowd anyway, wasting potentially useful minutes of his time.
posted by ed at 8:49 AM on October 14, 2002


The Immutable Laws of Maureen Dowd
A guide to reading the New York Times columnist.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 9:05 AM on October 14, 2002


That's the nature of rhetoric. Statements are calculated not to be genuinely insightful, but to trigger certain kinds of responses from a large audience. Alas, a great many people neither comprehend nor appreciate insight so much as they fall in love with strong oratory.

mattpfeff -- thanks for articulating this. It's exactly the sort of thing that drives me absolutely nuts about most political speeches (and many religious ones). Regardless of whether I agree with the content, it sets me on edge and makes me suspicious about whether they do. Contrivance indicates conivance...

Is there anyway to stop this? Or is the majority of the population really in love with lofty vague speechmaking high on glittering generalities, and so that's the sort of "leadership" we get?

Finally.... I wish someone would just ask Bush and his administration point blank if they'd be willing to make a statement in which they commit to leave Iraqi oil resources ungarnished by any American interest. The response -- whether yes, no, or "how ridiculous for you to even impugne we're interested in such a thing" -- would show some true colors and get things straight. We'd still have to worry about exactly how amitious the Pax Americana is (a biggerand more probably real issue, imho, than Iraqi oil) and exactly how committed the administration is to the principles of freedom and democracy.

I guess that's the problem. From the speeches our leaders give, we can't really tell what they're about. It takes a reporter with a tape recorder in a less public setting, I suppose.
posted by namespan at 9:12 AM on October 14, 2002


The more I read Maureen Dowd, the more I appreciate Thomas Friedman.
posted by chipr at 9:38 AM on October 14, 2002


Astonishing. Maureen Dowd has discovered that diplomacy and domestic politics occasionally involve feints and misdirection.

We'll have to take note of this. It could be important.
posted by dhartung at 9:45 AM on October 14, 2002


How is Dowd's choice of sources not relevant to a discussion of her column? To my thinking, her unquestioning reliance on an Al Qaeda terrorist is a perfect demonstration of why she's almost [1] entirely useless.

Like a lot of political pundits, she writes columns that are pleasant to read but kiddie-pool shallow. It suits her "today is opposite day" theme to believe Ayman Zawahiri, so she tosses it out, though there's no way she really believes that Zawahiri is a credible source of information.

Dowd's Pulitzer may be one of the least deserving ever, if you think opinion commentary should be judged on substance of argument rather than facile wordplay.

[1] Boldface formatting provided for the benefit of my new friend Ed, who seems to have missed the word the last time around.
posted by rcade at 9:45 AM on October 14, 2002


Offtopic but for such a great site I'm surprised that the search balks at single quotes (I was looking for the real version because their UI is actually useful)
posted by zeoslap at 10:16 AM on October 14, 2002


S_at_L: that list is pretty entertaining, I'll grant you. Especially since, except for the last one ("Europeans are always right"), those rules apply to just about any columnist, pundit, or for that matter MeFi user I can think of...
posted by ook at 10:31 AM on October 14, 2002


Hopefully Dowd will calm down after the election. I think she's just very fired up at the administration and feels its her civic duty to attack them. I anxiously await the return of her lighter columns, and a relief from the recent monotonous hackery.
posted by gsteff at 10:59 AM on October 14, 2002


ook, if you like that it is written by Josh Chafetz, a Rhodes Scholar and graduate student in political theory at Oxford. He and a couple of other American's that go to Oxford have a blog called OxBlog. I find it entertaining.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 11:19 AM on October 14, 2002


To my new compadre: According to English grammar, it's either "almost" or "entirely" -- not both. I'm mystified over how you can modify "entirely" with "almost," which means "whole" and thus is entirely redundant. So I took your post as an innocuous mistake and chose the word closest to "useless," which in this case was almost useless, but not entirely so.
posted by ed at 12:46 PM on October 14, 2002


The word "almost" does not mean "whole." It means "very nearly," as in "Ed has contributed almost nothing of any substance to this discussion."
posted by rcade at 12:57 PM on October 14, 2002


I think ed means that 'entirely' means 'whole', which it doesn't, it means 'wholly' or 'completely' which isn't the same thing. You certainly can qualify the word 'entirely' with 'almost'. Something that is 90 percent full is almost entirely full. An article that has only one sentence of sense is almost entirely useless. Why am I getting involved in this argument? Dunno.
posted by Summer at 1:52 PM on October 14, 2002


Summer: You are correct. I did mean "wholly." But I still don't see why anyone should use "almost entirely useless" when they can cut straight to the point with "almost useless." An adverb modifying an adverb seems redundant to me. "Useless" itself means "nothing of use" so you already have the "entirely" part contained within the adjective's meaning. And it's certainly in line with the Omit needless words rule of Strunk & White. But I'll stop here, lest this turn into Englishfilter.

And a cleaner version of that sentence: "Ed has contributed almost nothing of substance to this discussion."
posted by ed at 5:38 PM on October 14, 2002


The expression "almost useless" implies that Maureen Dowd is useful, which is a backhanded compliment I did not want to give. On the other hand, no one would consider "almost entirely useless" a compliment.
posted by rcade at 6:12 PM on October 14, 2002


« Older 24.7 Million pounds of chicken/turkey meat recalle...  |  Politics are allowed in politi... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments