The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Tuesday, February 03, 2004  

If You Read One Thing Today

Apologies for the ketchup blogging, but if you read just one thing today, may I suggest “Judy, Judy, Judy,” by Katha Pollitt from the latest issue of The Nation.

It’s a killer piece about public enemy number-one, the media, and its ongoing bizarre treatment of Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean and his wife, Judith Steinberg Dean. Pollitt offers a withering dissection of the attention accorded to Mrs. Dr. Dean, outrageous behavior that, in a just world, would have more than a handful of journalists in a desperate search to restore their deservedly ruined reputations.

Pull quote (long but worth it):

The attack on Dr. Judy began on the front page of the New York Times (you know, the ultraliberal paper) with a January 13 feature by Jodi Wilgoren, full of catty remarks about her “sensible slipper flats and no makeup or earrings” and fatuous observations from such academic eminences as Myra Gutin, “who has taught a course on first ladies at Rider University in New Jersey for 20 years.” It seems that Dr. Steinberg “fits nowhere” in Professor Gutin’s categorizations. Given that she counts Pat Nixon as an “emerging spokeswoman,” maybe that’s not such a bad thing. “The doctors Dean seem to be in need of some tips on togetherness and building a healthy political marriage,” opined Maureen Dowd, a single woman who, even if she weds tomorrow, will be in a nursing home by the time she’s been married for twenty-three years like the Deans. Tina Brown, another goddess of the hearth, compared Dr. Judy to mad Mrs. Rochester in Jane Eyre. On ABC News’s Primetime, Diane Sawyer put both Deans on the grill, with, according to Alexander Stille, who counted for the L.A. Times, ninety negative questions out of a total of ninety-six. Blinking and nodding like a kindly nurse coaxing a lunatic off a window ledge, Sawyer acted as if she wanted to understand Dr. Judy’s bizarre behavior: She keeps her maiden name professionally (just like, um, Diane Sawyer, a k a Mrs. Mike Nichols); she doesn’t follow the day-to-day of politics (like, what, 90 percent of Americans?); she enjoyed getting a rhododendron from Howard for her birthday. Throughout this sexist inquisition, Dr. Steinberg remained as gentle as a fawn, polite and unassuming -- herself. “I’m not a very ‘thing’ person,” she said when Sawyer pressed too close on that all-important rhododendron. She allowed as how she was not too interested in clothes -- whereupon Sawyer cut to a photo of Laura Bush, smiling placidly in a red ball gown.

Okay, if you read just two things, next read “First-Class Lady,” by Ronnie Polaneczky in yesterday’s Philadelphia Daily News, a thoughtful profile of Teresa Heinz Kerry and the perfect counterweight to Michelle Malkin’s recent, and very strange, doodlings on the same subject, which the Daily News also published yesterday.

A quick pull quote from Polaneczky’s article:

It remains to be seen, of course, whether Teresa Heinz Kerry is able to shed that “volatile” adjective that has been used -- inexplicably, in my opinion -- to describe her. To me, the word conjures images of a crazed Heinz Kerry crashing through the White House west wing, threatening the staff with a broken Cristal bottle. From what I can tell, though, what seems to make her “volatile” in pundits’ minds is that she speaks in sentences that don’t sound drained of all life by some public-relations handler.

I’m sure I could come up with a third article, but other duties call.

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