Dowd’s Obama Fantasy … I’m still puzzled that Maureen Dowd devoted so many words in her Sunday column to informing readers that she was a messy eater and a fan of good ol’ American BBQ sauce before launching into a discussion of Obama and his staffers’ latest alleged problem: appearing “effete and vaguely foreign — the same unflattering light that doomed Michael Dukakis and John Kerry.”

She doesn’t tell us that Obama looks wiry and is chomping gum to ward off cigarette cravings — that wouldn’t fit her stereotype — but instead is “slender, chewing Nicorette and perfectly groomed in his crisp white shirt.”

Even weirder is how she presents Samantha Power: “the Dublin-born Harvard expert on human rights who dryly refers to herself as ‘genocide chick’ [who] hit London to promote her new book.” The implication, I guess, is that if you were born in Ireland, you couldn’t possibly understand America.

Aside from this being a lame attack on anyone, it’s especially odd coming from Dowd. Her father grew up in County Clare, Ireland. And Dowd herself often has written, both fondly and ferociously, about Irish culture and heritage. That doesn’t prevent her from enjoying BBQ sauce.

The question of how “tough” an image Obama needs to project to the American public is a legitimate one. But painting the candidate and his team as “effete and vaguely foreign” in order to say that’s a problem for them — that’s just silly.

Christina Larson

Christina Larson is a Washington Monthly contributing editor and an award-winning science and environment journalist who has reported from five continents.