August 3, 2008

Obama "had yet to learn to be laught at" and sometimes "a deeper shade of hauteur... overspread his features."

Maureen Dowd thinks Jane Austen's description of Mr. Darcy apply well to Barack Obama:
If Obama is Mr. Darcy, with “his pride, his abominable pride,” then America is Elizabeth Bennet, spirited, playful, democratic, financially strained, and caught up in certain prejudices....

In this political version of “Pride and Prejudice,” the prejudice is racial...

So the novelistic tension of the 2008 race is this: Can Obama overcome his pride and Hyde Park hauteur and win America over?

Can America overcome its prejudice to elect the first black president? And can it move past its biases to figure out if Obama’s supposed conceit is really just the protective shield and defense mechanism of someone who grew up half white and half black, a perpetual outsider whose father deserted him and whose mother, while loving, sometimes did so as well?

Can Miss Bennet teach Mr. Darcy to let down his guard, be more sportive, and laugh at himself?
If we're going to get all English proffy, heavy on the race-and-gender talk, shouldn't we critique Dowd for portraying the black man's pursuit of political office as a sexual exploit?

***

I like this little statement at the end of Dowd's column:
Frank Rich is off today.
Isn't Frank Rich always off?

66 comments:

Ron said...

Pride and Prejudice? Uh-oh, I fear theUncle Tom's Cabin analogies are not far behind.

So the book of this election would not be something like Making of the President, but some MoDo quilled bodice ripper? Barbara Cartlant -- call your agent!

Ron said...

oops, Cartland!

rhhardin said...

Can America overcome its prejudice to elect the first black president? And can it move past its biases to figure out if Obama’s supposed conceit is really just the protective shield and defense mechanism of someone who grew up half white and half black, a perpetual outsider whose father deserted him and whose mother, while loving, sometimes did so as well?

Can Miss Bennet teach Mr. Darcy to let down his guard, be more sportive, and laugh at himself?


It's the soap opera genre that's in question here. Compare for sound the discovery of James Thurber's

``In many soap operas, a permanent question is either implied or actually posed every day by the serial narrators. These questions are usually expressed in terms of doubt, indecision, or inner struggle. Which is more important, a woman's heart or a mother's duty? Could a woman be happy with a man fifteen years older than herself? Should a mother tell her daughter that the father of the rich man she loves ruined the fortunes of the daughter's father? Should a mother tell her son that his father, long believed dead, is alive, well, and a criminal? Can a good, clean Iowa girl find happiness as the wife of New York's most famous matinee idol? Can a beautiful young stepmother, can a widow with two children, can a restless woman married to a preoccupied doctor, can a mountain girl in love with a millionaire, can a woman married to a hopeless cripple, can a girl who married an amnesia case - can they find soap-opera happiness and the good, soap-opera way of life?
No, they can't - not, at least, in your time and mine. The characters in Soapland and their unsolvable perplexities will be marking time on the air long after you and I are gone, for we must grow old and die, whereas the people of Soapland have a magic immunity to age, like Peter Pan and the Katzenjammer Kids. When you and I are in Heaven with the angels, the troubled people of Ivorytown, Rinsoville, Anacinburg, and Crisco Corners, forever young or forever middle-aged, will still be up to their ears in inner struggle, soul searching, and everlasting frustration.''

Middle Class Guy said...

Next:

Frankly, Hillary, I don't give a damn."

Quayle said...

Ms Dowd, your analogy is severely flawed.

C-/D+

You are still straining to be clever. We've talked about this before. Please see me after class.

Henry said...

Frank Rich is off today.

Those little statements often jump out at me.

You might read one of David Brooks' columns -- moderate, humorous, often silly, occasionally sly -- and the statement Paul Krugman is off today reads like a bad excuse. It's as if the editor is saying "If Krugman were here, we'd never print this stuff". For Krugman -- ponderous, permanently excercised, subtle as a bag of sand -- is the anti-Brooks.

Christy said...

Obama is Gilderoy Lockhart!

BTW, did anybody catch Jake Tapper on This Week with George Stephanopoulos? "... is looking to the media, the intelligentsia, to..." while gesturing to his self. Talk about arrogance!

Joe M. said...

I do wish that the NYT would stop insisting that we're all racist.

knox said...

How dare she insult Mr. Darcy by comparing him to Obama!

vbspurs said...

(McCain must be cast as Wickham, the rival for Elizabeth’s affections, the engaging military scamp who casts false aspersions on Darcy’s character.)

ARE YOU SERIOUS?

This paragraph and serio-comedic analogy wouldn't even make it from the bumbling pen of a nervous SAT-taking Senior.

Please, someone. Take out Maureen Dowd. I mean, not as in kill. As in date, so we can finally be rid of her.

Cheers,
Victoria

TitusBlue Devils said...

Please no Frank Rich bashing.

I love him and think he is God.

Also, his son is really hot.

Ron said...

Victoria, you couldn't pay me to take out The Dowd! Well, maybe you could, but I wouldn't respect myself the next day!

TitusBlue Devils said...

I didn't have sex last night.

TitusBlue Devils said...

Oh come on Dowd is a good looking woman.

I would do her.

Robert Stacy McCain said...

. . . shouldn't we critique Dowd for portraying the black man's pursuit of political office as a sexual exploit?

Let's face it, Maureen Dowd sees everything as a sexual exploit.

vbspurs said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
vbspurs said...

Speaking of literary classics:

Later today, I'll be watching Brideshead Revisited, err, Revisited -- the new Jarrold adaptation starring Emma Thompson.

Putting on my Secret Maureen Dowd Decoder Ring, I can also analogise this campaign into Waughian terms.

Charles Ryder: Obama.

The lanky outsider who desperately wants to know all about Lalique vases, be taught the delights of summering in such glamourous foreign locales as Venice (or Berlin) in the highest of style, all due to the man he courts...

Sebastian Flyte: America

America is flighty (flytey? Hehe, my little Amba tribute to unReddy), charming, desperately good-looking, but has issues. BIG BIG ISSUES. Basically, America is on the sauce all the time. And America doesn't want to quit, despite her rather quaint religiosity. America carries around a teddy bear (=the military) wherever it goes, flaunting its unique eccentricity in a world which looks on askance at this habit. Basically, the world really wants to be Sebastian Flyte-America, but it's jealous of its golden locks and unstudied air of "Yes, I'm better than all of you, deal with it". America is SO screwed.

Mr. Samgrass: Reverend Wright.

The moralising, but utterly corrupt would-be caretaker of Ryder/Obama and Flyte/America. He appears every once in a while to reassure people of his pomposity, so we can all have a laugh at his expense.

Brideshead Castle: The White House

Old Lord Marchmain: John McCain.

The engaging military scamp who casts false aspersions on Ryder's character.

...see, Ms. Dowd? It sounds stupid because it IS. Hack.

Cheers,
Victoria

Henry said...

Who, pray tell, is Hillary in this comic analogy?

vbspurs said...

Who, pray tell, is Hillary in this comic analogy?

In Dowd's version, she might be either the conniving mother, always angling to get rid of her too-many-dowerless daughters by clever taxation...

...or Jane Bennet, the spinsterish eldest daughter who gets ditched by the eligible bachelor because she's not quite good enough for him.

In my version, she's Julia Flyte. She's a ho.

Cheers,
Victoria

AlphaLiberal said...

Yes, I agree with Ann that Dowd should be criticized here. Many on the left have been criticizing her for being a one trick pony, playing the tired old game of painting Dem men as un-masculine.

Real men are trigger-happy, you see.

Dowd has jumped the shark and offers no new substance.

PatCA said...

Joe M.,
The NYT does not say we are all racists, just white people. The 83% of blacks who are voting for a black candidate are, you know, being authentic.

Or something.

B said...

Can America overcome its prejudice to elect the first black president?

Can the NYT and Ms. Dowd overcome their prejudicial thinking that anyone who doesn't vote for Obama is racist?

And can it move past its biases to figure out if Obama’s supposed conceit is really just the protective shield and defense mechanism of someone who grew up half white and half black, a perpetual outsider whose father deserted him and whose mother, while loving, sometimes did so as well

And can Ms Dowd understand that we don't care why Obama is a conceited elitist prick? Just that he is and that's enough to turn people off?

Will the urban elitists ever concede that the bumpkins in the fly over areas can put two and two together and are able to sniff out a BS artist a mile away?

Stay tuned.

Seriously, the charge is now and forever going to be..... that if you don't buy into Obama's schtick, don't care for his socialistic policies, don't feel he is qualified to be the leader of a group of girl scouts, much less the United States, we are racists. It just couldn't be that we didn't vote for him based on the issues and his resume. NEVER.....we must be racist. Of course the 90% of blacks who are going to vote for him because of his race...they could never be racist.

If/when he loses to an old white guy expect all Hell to break lose in the black community.

P. Rich said...

Want to learn a great deal more about the race-obsessed Obama who underlies the "we are one" quick paint job? Take a few minutes and click here .

Chip Ahoy said...

Let me make sure I got this right, Obama is black?

Can America overcome its prejudice to elect the first black president?

Can you just STFU about race already? Is it possible for you to stop dragging that into every single discussion?

No.

It's not possible for you to stop bringing up race. It's central to the whole plan here, to rapidly elevate a candidate of some color, one with only a meager record to examine, but of that, a record indicating the most liberal voter in the US Senate, and dare the rest of the country not to vote for him lest they be judged racist. Well guess what? Most serious American voters have already long looked beyond race to an individual's actual qualifications. So I suggest putting an end to constantly bringing up the subject of race lest you be judged a racist. You annoying race baiter.

I'll take the dare. Try again. Get someone blacker next time. A woman. Elevate a woman next time 100% of black and put her forward as the candidate. But have the good sense to choose one the rest of the country can vote for.

I see the Democrats making the same mistake over again. They satisfy their base in the primaries by putting forward the most liberal of all candidates, one sure to be rejected by conservative voters, because they don't care about conservative voters, they're not part of the calculus which is informed entirely by emotion. Meanwhile, the Republicans put forward the one candidate that quite nearly alienates their own base, an individual much closer to the center, not the center of their party, but the center of the spectrum, one perfectly willing to abandon conservative impulses if not outright betray them, and so one more easily voted for by a majority of voters rather than one who can be voted for by just half of them. So it will happen, following years of campaigning, the nation ends up with a president that never fully satisfies anyone.

LutherM said...

Not every column is a masterpiece.
DOWD also stated, "In this political version of “Pride and Prejudice,” the prejudice is racial, with only 31 percent of white voters telling The New York Times in a survey that they had a favorable opinion of Obama, compared with 83 percent of blacks."
Maureen is a perceptive writer, but she's wrong to equate Obama approval ratings to racial prejudice.
Approval and disapproval are not necessarily prejudicial traits.
It isn't racism for white voters to discern that the boy is a phony.
It probably isn't racism for black voters to approve of Obama - it's more like a group of Jiminy Crickets "Wishing Upon A Star.".

(You only have to look at two past columns, " A Woman Who Found a Way to Write", N.Y.Times July 24, 2005, and "Oprah! How Could Ya?", N. Y. Times January 14, 2006, to see that Maureen Dowd has real talent as a writer, and should be attempting the novel that most writers think that they have inside of them.)

Mortimer Brezny said...

If we're going to get all English proffy, heavy on the race-and-gender talk, shouldn't we critique Dowd for portraying the black man's pursuit of political office as a sexual exploit?

Brilliant.

ricpic said...

So rh, I take it America will not find happiness in Obama's embrace?

I second what chip ahoy said. Which amazes me because normally I fall asleep before making it to the end of a piece of chip ahoy esoterica.
But this time chip was angry. So he dropped the pissy and said it pithy. Let's hear it for anger.

Mortimer Brezny said...

The 83% of blacks who are voting for a black candidate are, you know, being authentic.

Given that "those blacks" are Democrats, it would make sense that they vote for the Democratic Party's nominee. But, thanks for the casually racist comment.

Baron Zemo said...

"But, thanks for the casually racist comment."

It can not be casually racist if the commenter is not wearing shorts at the time they post. If they are wearing a suit and tie, that would be business racist. Wearing a tuxedo would make it black tie racist. By all means, please let us define our terms.

Ralph said...

I've always thought a "sexual exploit" did not involve marriage (of 8-10 years). Has BO got the lube, or should we bring our own?

Mo MoDo said...

I think Obama makes a very handsome Darcy and I have the photoshop to prove it.

William said...

Obama's parents remind me of characters in a V S Naipul novel. The mother was a perpetual pilgrim doing penance for other people's sins. The father was a third world intellectual who came west to study his sense of grievance. Naipul's characters are not so much alienated from their society as detached and confused by its strangeness. Obama is not a Naipul character. He is more like a character that a Naipul character would daydream about in a grandiose fantasy.

Seven Machos said...

Dowd has jumped the shark

This happened well before she ever got her current job.

Also, if all the black people who vote for Obama are doing so merely because they are Republicans, then surely all the white people who vote for McCain are doing so because they are Republicans. In fact, we can subtract some 75 percent of the electorate on these grounds. That leaves the middle, the undecideds, the swing voters, the soccer Moms, the moderates, you know the type.

Is it really true that these people are the racist element in society? That strikes me as specious at the very, very least.

Seven Machos said...

Black people are voting for Obama because they are Democrats. Obviously.

Baron Zemo said...

"Black people are voting for Obama because they are Democrats. Obviously."

Only the first three times when they vote in Chicago. The fifth and the sixth time is because he's black. The seventh, eight and ninth is because of the walking around money they got from their minister. The tenth time they vote for Obama is just for luck.

PatCA said...

Thanks, Baron, I was wearing my floor length Armani sequinned gown at the time, so I guess I was being formally racist.

Help me understand racism better:

1. If the 31% of the white people who don't want to vote for Obama are not Democrats, are they still racists?

2. How do you know the blacks are Democrats? Are you making a (racist) assumption there?

Seven Machos said...

It's true that blacks identify overwhelmingly as Democrats. It's also true that the Republican party is overwhelmingly white. No one can say that Republicans voting Republican are racist.

Consequently, Obama's upcoming loss will be blamed on white Democrats who cross over. Reagan Democrats. Unemployed steel workers. Union guys. Enlightened pundits everywhere will look at Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania as the states that destroyed Obama. And that slobbering moron who wrote What's the Matter with Kansas will have a new book to write.

Clip this post Althouse because it's going to look absurdly prescient in January 2009.

Mortimer Brezny said...

If the 31% of the white people who don't want to vote for Obama are not Democrats, are they still racists?

Your question is a non-sequitur.

But, even if it weren't illogical, the answer to your question would depend on if that 31% consisted of white voters who admitted to pollsters that the race of a candidate was a decisive factor in their voting behavior and then voted against Obama.

How do you know the blacks are Democrats?

If you are unaware that the overwhelming majority of blacks who vote identify as and vote for Democrats, then I am amazed you were able to turn on your computer to tap out your idiotic posts.

Mortimer Brezny said...

It can not be casually racist if the commenter is not wearing shorts at the time they post.

I suppose this passes for humor if you are retarded.

Baron Zemo said...

"Given that "those blacks" are Democrats, it would make sense that they vote for the Democratic Party's nominee. But, thanks for the casually racist comment."


I suppose this passes for political punditry if you are retarded. Or racist.

blake said...

Mort,

What about the fact that blacks voted 90% for Barack against Hil(l)ary. Two Dem candidates, one white, one black, and the blacks voted for the black way out of proportion to the whites voting for the white.

(Of course, this isn't just with Barack. As a group, blacks largely vote for blacks over other races, even when they're convicted criminals. There are some interesting attitudes associated with this.)

blake said...

The analogy is off.

Hil(l)ary is Lydia. She ran off with Wyckham (the Press) because of her desire to trump the other candidates and a fleeting gesture of love.

Unfortunately for H!, there is no rich uncle to bail her out, and she's now forced to live in Scotland.

Hey, I never said my analogy was perfect, either.

Dave said...

"I suppose this passes for political punditry if you are retarded. Or racist."

Black Zemo: I'm all confused. Does this mean it's impossible to be both retarded and a racist?

Isn't it obvious that *all* non-Progressive ("Quick, comrade, what is the Party line this week?) types are racist troglodytes, at best?

I mean, when you're a *Progressive* your logic doesn't actually *have* to make sense. That's the beauty part.

Kind of like the "gender gap" of yore. Reagan was perceived as having a gender gap because females voted for him by only a slight majority (versus Mondale) while males gave him a substantial majority. See?

Even today, if you subtract out the votes of Black females, Republicans typically get a slight majority of all non-Black female votes. In fact, Republicans get a pretty good majority of *married* female votes.

Oddly enough, Blacks voting for Democrats by 90-10% is *not* evidence of racism for the likes of mortimer, while non-blacks voting 55-45% for Republicans is.

Like I said. Why is "retarded *and* racist" not a choice?

AllenS said...

Mortimer is a cracker, which doesn't mean he's a racist or retarded. Never listen to a liberal cracker tell you that you're a racist.

Foose said...

I can see Bob Barr as Mr. Collins ...

knox said...

I was just about to say "who's Mr. Collins"? But then we have a whole capitol full of the doofy, arrogant bastards, don't we.

knox said...

that one was for Madisonman, the only commenter I know of who surpasses me in despising our worthless congress.

PatCA said...

"I suppose this passes for humor if you are retarded."

Okay, Baron Zemo, blake, I think we won this one. When the opposition resorts to middle school epithets, the game is over.

PatCA said...

"I suppose this passes for humor if you are retarded."

Okay, Baron Zemo, blake, I think we won this one. When the opposition resorts to middle school epithets, the game is over.

Ann Althouse said...

"Mortimer is a cracker..."

Mortimer is black.

Baron Zemo said...

"Mortimer is black."

That means if you do not vote for him you are a racist.

Seven Machos said...

Words that you can easily avoid using in any debate:

1. cracker

AlphaLiberal said...

This is in response, mainly, to an earlier thread:
The Real McCain. A good and short video compilation.

Randy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
vbspurs said...

Later today, I'll be watching Brideshead Revisited, err, Revisited -- the new Jarrold adaptation starring Emma Thompson.

I'm back!

And it was AWFUL.

AWFUL. AWFUL. AWFUL. AWFUL. AWFUL.

Got it? AWFUL.

Cheers,
Victoria

vbspurs said...

LOL @ Photoshop of Obama as Darcy.

blake said...

So, Victoria, how was the movie?

vbspurs said...

So, Victoria, how was the movie?

IT ROCKED! ;)

Seriously, it was an abomination of an adaptation. It always had a tough act to follow -- the famed mini-series. But EVERYTHING, from the choice of actors to portray the characters, to the storyline (which doesn't follow the book at all), which is frankly anti-Catholic, is disgusting to any Waugh fan.

I asked for, and got my money back.

Cheers,
Victoria

Seven Machos said...

Alright, I'll throw in my literary analogy. The American left is Charles Ryder, constantly looking for this thing that really isn't there. Charles did it his whole life with that family at their big house. The American left does it every day. Their whole life is a big quest for some beautiful, godlike world-historical figure who can wipe away the pain of the world with government.

I reread a brilliant essay by Lionel Trilling the other day, Whittaker Chambers and the Middle of the Journey. It is incredibly relevant today:

At this distance in time teh mentality of the Communist-oriented intelligentsia of the Thirties and Forties must strain the comprehension of even those who, having observed it first hand, now look back on it...That mentality was presided over by an impassioned longing to believe...[W]hat the fellow-traveling intellectuals were impelled to give their credence to was the ready feasibility of contriving a society in which reason and virtue alone would prevail.

I'm not calling Obama or the left communist. Understand that. It's amazing, though, how well this definition basically explains the phenomenon that is Obama.

P.S.: Althouse, I'm pretty sure this is fair use.

Henry said...

Hillary is Lydia

I was thinking of her as the icy Lady Catherine De Bourgh, trying to prevent America from wedding Obamadarcy, but that only works if Lady Catherine De Bourgh wanted to marry Elizabeth herself. Now that would be an adaptation!

The motivation also falls flat on another point. I don't think Hillary thought Obama was too good for America.

Jack Wayne said...

Why has no one called Dowd to account for her mis-understanding of the novel? Elizabeth Bennett was the prideful one. And Darcy was the prejudiced one. Dowd has it exactly wrong. Which is typical.

blake said...

Jack--

That's absolutely right and I'm embarrassed to have not noticed!

Nichevo said...

Did not read the book - in the movie, Greer Garson is the prejudiced and Laurence Olivier is the proud.

Fred said...

Obama Is Gilderoy Lockhart,magical me,a smug, arrogant, empty, lying phoney lawyer who is not interested in wrong or right,only in winning,i thought bush was the lowest point for the usa but this nobody is ten times worse.

Fred said...

Obama Is Gilderoy Lockhart,magical me,a smug, arrogant, empty, lying phoney lawyer who is not interested in wrong or right,only in winning,i thought bush was the lowest point for the usa but this nobody is ten times worse.

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