By Becky Burgwin
This is a response to Maureen Dowd's OpEd piece in the
New York Times entitled, The Doctor is Out.
In response to the Bush administration's newest program,
The Healthy Marriage Initiative (that sounds great but either
won't be funded, like all of his other great-sounding programs,
or will be used as a way to accomplish exactly the opposite
of what it purports to accomplish, like deny the benefits
of a healthy marriage to certain members of our "freedom-loving"
society), Maureen Dowd has used Howard Dean and his wife Judith
Steinberg as an example of a couple needing help in this area.
As a huge fan of Ms. Dowd's, I am disappointed to find out
that her views on women and their role in their husband's
career are no different than that of the male establishment.
That is, that the wife of a presidential candidate should
drop everything and jump to her husband's side. If Dr. Steinberg
were the one running for president and Dr. Dean was the stay-at-home
parent/physician, you wouldn't hear a peep. In fact, they'd
probably give her a hard time for leaving her family and her
practice to run for president. The fact that she doesn't want
to go to Iowa and become embroiled in the totally insane Iowa
caucuses makes me like her even more. I'm with ya girlfriend.
There are people among us who purposely stay away from large
angry mobs. Besides, Dean's brother is there. His mother is
there. Ben Affleck is there. Rob Reiner is there. Martin Sheen
is there. Tom Harkin is there and 3500 of his youthful supporters
from all over the world are there and since winning in Iowa
is supposed to be akin to having your picture turn up on the
cover of Sports Illustrated right before the big game, who
can blame her for choosing to sit it out. And to make some
sort of judgment about the fact that she didn't go to Hawaii
for Charlie Dean's ceremony, when you have no idea what her
reasons were, is ludicrous and mean.
Then Ms. Dowd says this, "Even by the transcendentally
wacky standard for political unions set by Bill and Hillary
Clinton, the Deans have an unusual relationship." Oh-my-God,
she wishes they were a little more like the Clintons. Perhaps
Dr. Steinberg should follow her husband around the country,
standing faithfully at his side while he jumps on everything
that moves. Let's take a look at some first ladies and candidates'
wives and what traveling with their husbands who were front-runners
for president "with crowds all over America cheering"
has done for them, shall we? Roslyn Carter... clinical depression.
Kitty Dukakis... substance abuse. Betty Ford... well, the
Betty Ford Center. Jackie K... husband didn't even bother
to leave the house when he fooled around. Eleanor Roosevelt...
gay. Laura Bush... the most vapid first lady ever. She has
this look on her face that says, "I know this guy's a
jerk but what can I do?"
That she cannot see how romantic her husband's gesture of
giving her a rhododendron in full bloom that will make him
think of her every time it blooms, is beyond me. Believe me
Maureen, and I know you know this, there are plenty of politicians
who give furs and diamonds to their wives while they're giving
something else to their girlfriends. But these two are true
blue. He takes every Sunday off to come home and be with his
But Ms. Dowd, unfortunately, has exposed herself as being
just another one of our illustrious journalists who will use
absolutely anything against a candidate to get the story.
I can hear it now. "Dr. Steinberg has abandoned her patients
whose families depend on her from birth to death, to do the
phony glad-handing-the-potential-Iowa-caucus-goers thing."
It's this kind of thinking that so many woman are sick to
Today I have heard several male journalists say that Carol
Moseley Braun brought nothing to these primaries. That is
absolutely false. Ms. Braun brought calmness, reason, sunshine,
brilliance, and a thorough knowledge of the issues. She made
the guys look like a pack of bullies in the schoolyard. And,
lest we forget, she also brought Patricia Ireland and the
National Organization of Women. I'm thinking she consulted
with her campaign manager before she decided to endorse Howard
Dean and I'm also fairly certain Ms. Dowd knows that women
are a hugely influential portion of the voting block. If it
bothers them that Dr. Steinberg has not changed her name and
won't give up her career just yet, they aren't showing it.
I am so tired of the American press and their determination
to make our electoral process so ugly. Dean has been portrayed
as this angry guy but everyone who knows him, says this is
flat-out untrue. Passionate? Yes. Opinionated? Yes. Animated?
Yes. But angry? No. Now that he's finally decided to bite
back at the 5 candidates who, with a lot of help from the
press, are using all of their resources to bring him down,
they're accusing him of dirty campaigning and, "False anger,
which is bringing down the standards of the Iowa caucuses."
Dick Gephardt –1/14/04. Oh pahlease.
Ms. Dowd has exposed her true colors as a male-pleasing woman
who would rather have our daughters emulating women who "sit
in the front row and gaze up" at their husbands. How the mighty
have fallen. I expected so much more from her. The reason
Howard Dean is energizing the party and thousands and thousands
of new voters, is because he is passionate, animated and willing
to stand up to the bullies. He's not business-as-usual. With
the help of journalists like Dowd, who latch on to some unusual
bit of history and beat the candidate to death with it like
they did to Al Gore in 2000, we have business-as-usual in
the White House today. How's it going so far, Maureen? If
Dean is able to rise above the crap that flows so freely in
our electoral process, he just might be able to bring a breath
of fresh air to our poor, beaten up country that is simultaneously
hated and pitied the world over. And unless these young voters,
who have come out in spectacular numbers for Dean, decide
they can find some honesty, plain-spokenness and genuine ideas
of how to make this country the best it can be in Dick Gephardt,
John Kerry, John Edwards, Al Lieberman or Wesley Clark, the
Democrats don't have a prayer in 2004.
Ms. Burgwin's writing has appeared in Newsweek, Time, New
York Magazine, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Tribune
Review as well as several online Op Ed sites. She is also
involved in gay rights, women's issues and the environment.
She lives in Pittsburgh with her family.