Mo Dowd: Dick Cheney Is Out to Destroy Our Checks and Balances

New York Times columnist (and former Times reporter) Maureen Dowd appeared on the "Tavis Smiley" show on PBS on Wednesday night with her typical take on the news: Bush and Cheney are suffering from testosterone poisoning, and she urged the media to keep pushing because "checks and balances is what Dick Cheney is trying to destroy." But Hillary Clinton is too cautious, "fetches coffee for older male Senators," and needs to be more outspoken: "I would love to see Barack Obama and Hillary speaking out more."

Smiley asked Dowd about if it was tough to write her column: "The first couple of years I had the column, I was curled up in a ball on the floor of my house, crying a lot." (Like Linda Greenhouse? Is this a standard practice for New York Times reporters?) She continued: "But as a student of literature and Shakespeare, you know that power can be poisonous. And in the case of Bush and Cheney, testosterone can be poisonous. And it’s just my job to tweak them and say before the Iraq war, we should not be ginning this case up to go to a war unless we’re sure that we understand the culture, and we didn’t.  So I feel that journalism has a really important place in checks and balances, without being corny about it. And checks and balances is what Dick Cheney is trying to destroy. So I feel that it’s important that we keep pushing."

When asked about Hillary, she complained: "I think so far, she’s been very cautious. It’s hard to tell whether she’s been too cautious on issues like Terri Schiavo and the Iraq war. The whole country is in such a roiling turmoil, and I think they really need a voice. And I would love to see Barack Obama and Hillary speaking out more. And maybe she’ll start doing that now. But up until now, she hasn’t. So I think it remains to be – and also, she’s turned off a lot of the Democrat base by triangulating.

"She’s taken on traditional female wiles, after being so unilateral and alpha male in the White House on healthcare. Now she fetches coffee for older male Senators, and steps back to let them get in front for a photo op. And it’s just really funny to see her being so soft and feminine with them as a tactic to help her image."

Smiley shifted the subject to the squabble over the National Intelligence Estimate, and drew a typical response on how Team Bush deals from its imagination, not reality:

"I think that all along, they’ve tried to create their own reality on Iraq. They’ve tried to tell us that what we’re seeing, that this is a misbegotten war that has created more Islamic fundamentalism and radicalism, and more Muslim governments across the world, that none of this is happening. That it’s turning around, that it’s a success. And then his own national intelligence estimate says it’s not. That it made jihadism a cause celebre.

"So of course they wanted to hide that as long as they could, and spin it. But we can see it with our own eyes. It’s like Katrina. We can see with our own eyes it’s mismanaged, and it doesn’t do any good for him and Cheney to keep saying that it was the right thing and that it’s turning around, when we see that it isn’t. It’s caused more terror. So we can see that. The intelligence estimate just confirmed what is already apparent if you read the newspapers and watch the news."

Smiley followed up: "Does it get better before he gets out of office, or do you see that as an impossibility?"

Dowd replied: "No. We occupied a Muslim land, and it’s become this huge recruiting tool for jihadists around the world. And it’s gonna be a decade or a generation before we straighten this out."

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis