Dear Winston, sixth edition

Dear Winston,

Winston, how would you pigeonhole Maureen Dowd, The New York Times columnist, in terms of her political ideology?  People say she’s a liberal, but she seems to spend more time running down liberals (and Democrats in general) than conservatives.

So, how about it, Winston?  Am I missing something here?


Dowdy in Delaware

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Dear Dowdy,

Maureen Dowd is not now and has never been a liberal, or for that matter a conservative.  She’s an egotist. 

One almost gets the impression that she would gladly see the poor go hungry, the environment go to hell and the war go on forever if that would give her one really good catty quip to use in one of her columns.

Always approach Dowd the way a wise mate (if there were such a thing) would approach a black widow spider: you can enjoy the beauty of her occasional anti-Bush tirades, but never forget that she’ll turn on you in the end.

(Actually, the belief that black widow spiders always eat their mates is apparently a myth.)

BartCop has a nifty way of describing her: he always uses the tag: “She hates everybody.”  I couldn’t have said it better myself.



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Dear Winston,

Who are our heroes now?  In recent years, we’ve lost so many, from John Kenneth Galbraith to Paul Wellstone to Molly Ivins and now Kurt Vonnegut. I have my own thoughts on this, but I’d like to know yours, and those of the rest of the Cafe regulars, too.


Heroless in Hutchison
(This is a reader submitted letter taken from the comments.)

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Dear Heroless,

Great question!  My list of heroes — or at least of people I particularly admire — is fairly eclectic.  Here are a few of them:

I’ll start off with someone I bet won’t make most people’s lists — Jimmy Carter.  Almost certainly the greatest ex-president in American history, since leaving office Carter has contributed in countless ways to America and the greater world community.  And as to this, most people agree.  But my admiration for him goes back even further.

I think that history will be kinder to the Carter presidency than most people believe today, but I recognize that he’ll never be listed among the great or even near great American presidents.  I don’t care.  There’s one thing no one can ever deny about the man: He was right — and prophetically so — about the single most important issue of our age. 

Think of how much better off this nation — hell, the whole damn world for that matter — would be today if we had listened to Jimmy Carter on energy policy back in the 70s.  What if we hadn’t just laughed at things like the cardigan sweaters he used to wear (to encourage people to turn down the thermostat in winter) and the solar panel he had installed on the White House?  (And boy howdy did the “in” boys and girls laugh.)   What if, instead, we’d embraced energy conservation and the development of alternative energy sources, as he urged?

Think of what sort of 2007 such a yesterday might have bequeathed to us: a world where global warming would be far less advanced, our national security would no longer be held hostage by a bunch of two-bit Middle Eastern tyrants and quite likely the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center would still stand proudly over Manhattan (no US dependence on Middle Eastern oil, no US troops in Saudi Arabia, perhaps no 9/11). 

Other heroes:

Al Gore: The man who rebounded from the disappointment of having the presidency stolen from him to very possibly (if we’re lucky) saving the human race.

Bill Moyers: Single-handedly (it often seems) carrying the best traditions of American journalism forward into the new millennium.

Stephen Hawking: For his genius, and even more for his courage.

Jessica Lynch and the Pat Tillman family: For having both the integrity and the guts to speak the truth, instead of just taking false bows.

Liviu Librescu: 76-year-old Holocaust survivor who died trying to shield his students during the Virginia Tech shooting.  Thank you, sir, for providing me with a much needed reminder of just how noble the human spirit can be.

(Now share your heroes in the comments)  


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Dear Winston,

Can you think of anything more disgusting than that recent video, produced by the so-called American Family Association, which tries to blame the Virginia Tech shootings on things like the absence of school prayer and children supposedly not being spanked enough?


Amazed from Amarillo

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Dear Amazed,

Actually, I can think of something more disgusting, in fact, much more disgusting: the fact that organizations like the American Family Association have been exercising tremendous influence over the federal government for the last six years.



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Dear Winston,

I can’t decide how upset to be about John McCain’s ridiculous little song about bombing Iran.  Part of me finds this incredibly offensive.  But to be honest, another part of me thinks this may be making a mountain out of a molehill.  I mean, McCain was clearly just trying to be funny, even if it was in absurdly bad taste.

So, what do you think Winston?


Conflicted in Cleveland

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Dear Conflicted,

I’ve been struggling with this myself.  Part of the problem, to be honest, is that I find it very hard right now to give John McCain the benefit of the doubt on anything: let’s face it — the man’s been an intolerable twit lately.  I’ve never been a McCain fan, but watching him suck-up to far right nutcases during the early days of the presidential campaign has been, shall we say, particularly vomit inducing. 

The man’s sold out every principle he’s ever had — assuming, of course, he ever had any. 

Then there’s the way he piled on with the other bullies when John Kerry made his botched joke about Bush and the military.  As a number of online commentators have appropriately noted, McCain doesn’t exactly have the cleanest of hands when he tells people upset by his “hilarious” little bomb Iran song to “lighten up and get a life.”

Maybe instead of telling the rest of us to lighten up, McCain should put a little of his energy into trying to rediscover some small semblance of personal honor.

He might start out, for example, by apologizing to his old “friend” John Kerry.

Still, I’ll confess to some uneasiness over how quickly today’s political culture condemns political leaders, even to the point of trying to run them out of town on a rail, based upon one isolated stupid or offensive comment (or song?).  And as to this, I think that the following points are incontestable:

1. Anyone who regularly speaks publicly in an unscripted and spontaneous fashion will occasionally say something stupid or offensive;

2. Overly scripted politicians have made political discourse in America as dull and uninspiring as diet tapioca pudding;

3. By being too harsh in response to point #1 we tend to make point #2 worse.

John McCain would be a disaster as a president: For one thing, he’s clearly overly enamored with the use of military force: and certainly his refusal to face reality in Iraq is more than reason enough, by itself, to disqualify him from higher office.  But in all honesty (and I’m sorry if this irritates some of my friends), I don’t think his embarrassing singing performance, in and of itself, is a big deal.  I’ve watched the video clip in full, including what he said after he stopped “singing,” and while the man has a lot of things to say that scare the crap out of me, I’m convinced that the song itself was nothing more than a misguided spur of the moment attempt to be funny.

So I say drop it.

And don’t worry: this is John McCain we’re talking about. They’ll be plenty of other screw-ups to come.



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Dear Winston,

Is it just me, or is there something sort of sad about the thought of Paul Wolfowitz *  *  *

Dear Dissatisfied,

I understand where you’re coming from, but for me this is like the feds getting Al Capone for tax evasion.  I’ll take seeing the bastard cut down to size any way I can.


More updates of Dear Winston will be coming. Feel free to post questions to Winston in the comments.

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Check out the last edition of Dear Winston here.

Check out the episodes archive here.

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4 Responses to “Dear Winston, sixth edition”

  1. Chuck Says:

    She has let me down big time. I thought she was going to be the next generation Helen Thomas. Alas!

  2. RJHall Says:

    Dear Winston,

    Why do right-wingers always say that Hitler was elected (and usually go on to compare him to another “elected dictator”, Hugo Chávez), when anyone with even a passing acquaintance with looking things up would know that Hitler was appointed? Did a committee of Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, and Fox News decree this false fact and further decree a lifetime vacation in Gitmo for any right-winger who looked it up for themselves? I mean, come on, saying it once or twice might be an innocent mistake, but they’ve kept saying it again and again for years! What gives?


    Exile in Europe

  3. FreeDem Says:

    Liviu Librescu was indeed heroic in trying to save the students in this latest Mucker outbreak, but how can you even think of him without remembering two others who were at least as heroic.

    One a teacher at Columbine High School, the other a young woman who tried to use her own death to make the crazed Mucker at her Pennsylvania school see the horror of his intentions

    The Gang Of Pirates have debased the coin of every honor this country can give. Perhaps a new Democratic leadership can create a new unsullied one worthy of these three heroes.

    On another point the Pennsylvania massacre brought home was that even if one’s religion is fundamentalist, and even if you believe that it should rule your every thought and move, it is not necessary, and in fact destroys the ideal, if you try to impose the actions, much less the thoughts, or beliefs, on anyone who does not reach out of their own will.

    With all the Dominionist doublespeak, it is good to know what such a religion would be like if they actually walked their talk

    Similarly the canard of Pacifists as cowards, called so by folk who ran like rabbits when called to really face their talk, were shamed for an eternity by a little girl who had more courage in a strand of hair than all of them together.

  4. Michael Steven Says:

    The media quotes Government officials as saying that this April
    saw more Americans killed in Iraq than any other month of the
    entire war. I recall another ‘Bloody April’ when the Royal Air Force
    suffered its highest losses/per month in April 1917. A lot of the dead
    were new pilots trying to learn the deadly tricks of flying the Sopwith
    Camel both in flying school and (if they survived school) later in air
    to air combat against the German veterans. I am curious to know if
    there have been any other ‘Bloody Aprils’ in other wars to where that
    month might be a good time for future combatants to go on leave,
    finally write that procrastinated letter home, or visit the Chaplin?

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