Reading Maureen Dowd
If we read Maureen Dowd, we learn how, years ago, her dad, a tough Irish cop, gun on hip, faced down the KKK in her Maryland hometown when she was a child. It's a good hook to swing a story from, and hey, it might even be true.
She could have saved herself the trouble of inventing it if it isn't true, because one thing you know about Dowd and people like her is that no matter where you begin, you always wind up in the same place. They could start by telling you the story of how well their niece did in her school play, and somehow, like a bucket of water running down a crack in a rock, the narrative always finds its way down, down, and down into some subterranean lava flow from where it boils back up as a seething ad hominem attack on Donald J. Trump.
He's all these people can talk about.
Dowd's most recent piece tells us that "Donald Trump found a narrow portal to crawl [like a snake on its belly, I assume] through to get to the Oval Office" (something the rest of us call an election), where of course he "buoyed the Ku Klux Klan and the neo-Nazis who had marched in Charlottesville with Tiki torches, Confederate flags, Nazi slogans, swastikas and banners reading 'Jews will not replace us[.]'"
I'd like to corner her sometime. "Tell me, Maureen," I'd ask, "do you actually believe Donald Trump's plan is, with his own hands, to load his own Jewish grandchildren into a boxcar bound for an extermination camp? Is that where you're going with this?"
Well, then, if you're not, how about shutting down right now? The man campaigned on the wall, jobs, better trade deals, and making America more respected again, while Hillary ran on making the next four years Obama's third term. So how is Trump doing versus what he promised to do? Talk about that.
Because here's what should worry you: the last time the invective reached this level, a Democrat congressman by the name of Brooks strode into the Senate chamber and broke his cane beating Senator Charles Sumner, an older man who had insulted a relative of his concerning slavery, over the head, and yes, what flowed from that a few short years later is that Robert E. Lee formed his incomparable Army of Northern Virginia, and the most beautiful countryside in the world was piled up with the dead bodies of America's sons.
Words matter. It is not a game wherein any insult, any lie, any misrepresentation, any ugly thing you can tag your political or philosophical opponent with is how you win. Because outside the Beltway and across the George Washington Bridge from Manhattan, there's a limit to how far people will bandy words before they hit you over the head. And what you might consider is that your New York Times readers, your "progressive" congressmen, and your army of blathering college babies won't be much help in that fight.
So let it go, Maureen.
My mother's advice would be that if you can't say something nice about President Trump, "don't say anything at all." I'm not asking you to go that far, but please – let it go.
I have sons and grandsons I worry about.
Richard F. Miniter lives and writes in the colonial-era hamlet of Stone Ridge, New York; blogs here; and may be reached at email@example.com. The acclaimed author of The Things I Want Most, his most recent book, What Sort of Parents Should We Be?: A Man's Guide to Raising Exceptional Children, is now available here.