The Right Coast

December 02, 2005
Was it smart or beautiful she was supposed to be?
By Tom Smith

Maureen Dowd is out and about promoting her new book, which is called "Are Men Necessary?" I haven't read it, and I'm not going to. Two and a half stars at Amazon suggest it is a real howler at the moon, that is, a truly, dangerously stinky tome. I gather the gist of it is, Ms. Dowd is too smart, too successful, and too beautiful for any man to like her. Well, golly. It is difficult to bring oneself to buy a book with a thesis as implausible as that. I tend not to buy books about UFO conspiracies, either, partly because I strongly suspect nothing they could say could convince me of their thesis, so why bother.

But to get to the point. First, why do people think Ms. Dowd is so beautiful? Look at this. Would you call that beautiful? Oops, yes. I suppose you would. Wrong link. I meant this. Sorry! I meant this. Nope. I have got to clean up this file. Here we go. OK, unflattering photo. Here. Is she as good looking as Instawife (he opened the door)? No. She is not. True, I live in San Diego, and teach at a small but undeniably cute university therein, which, I am told, is renowned for its beautiful women, and of course, its excellent law school. I, of course, would not have noticed the former on my own had it not been pointed out to me by none other than (and this is an absolutely true story) the late, renowned Contracts scholar and Reporter of the Restatement Second, Allan Farnsworth. We were walking over to lunch when he stopped, looked around, and said, "I've never seen so many beautiful women in my life." Well, he's the one who said it. The point being, are people living such sheltered lives that they look at Maureen Dowd, and think OMG my soul is pierced to the quick by her beauty, or something? If true, dude, come to San Diego. Take a walk on La Jolla Shores or something. Get a life. I mean, she is a perfectly fine looking woman. Attractive even. But beeeyouuuutifulll? No. Certainly not for a big celebrity. Next point.

She's just so wonderfully witty, so sharp, so snide, so . . . She is?! I guess NYT readers are easily amused. Yes, she can be good, rarely. Her column in 2000 on the oral argument in Bush v. Gore was funny. I survived it. It was not laugh till your ribs pop out of your chest wall funny. But it was funny. Other than that one, nothing comes to mind. You can read something funnier than Dowd any day of the week in the Blogosphere. This takedown is pretty funny, for instance. The title of her book is an example: "Are Men Necessary?" If that is funny, it is very mildly so. It's not original, either. When Thurber and White asked "Is Sex Necessary?" it was funny. It still is funny. Dowd just pretends to be funny.

Smart? Pulease. Don't insult my intelligence. I am married to a smart woman, who is also better looking than Dowd (sorry, she won't let me). There are lots of women in law, medicine, all over the place, who are smarter and better looking than Dowd, and even more who are either. Even pointing to Dowd as an example of a "smart woman" is an insult to women, though not, I admit, to the New York Times. I can think of a woman who is smarter and better looking than Dowd who was at the Times. And in snarky journalism, smarter, better looking, and funnier. (But yes, politically naughty.) But enough of Dowd. Paying attention only encourages her.