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Et tu, Maureen?
January 17, 2004
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 family.

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 death of.

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.

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