Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Is Maureen Dowd worth $1.15?

After a long summer leave, Maureen Dowd's back at the Times.

And -- guess what? -- she picks up right where she left off back in May, writing snappy one-liners, gluing them together, and calling the resulting patchwork of banality -- usually either an attack on "W." or a complaint about masculinity -- a column.

You know, I used to like her. And I want to like her again. I really do. (Honest.) But now, like Thomas Friedman and his "flat" earth theory, she just preaches the predictable with repetitive abandon. Read one and you've read 'em all. Such is the unoriginality that plagues the formidable op-ed page of the nation's newspaper of record.

And it's not just Dowd and Friedman. Tell me honestly that anything one of the other columnists writes ever surprises you. Paul Krugman and David Brooks are fine writers, but do you ever read one of their columns and say, "Wow, that's brilliant!" Hardly. Nicholas Kristof occasionally does some really good stuff, like his work on the Mukhtaran Bibi story, and Frank Rich exhibits dashes of brilliance that set him apart from the mass of mediocrity that is the mainstream commentariat, but these days I find myself mostly looking and clicking away to much better stuff elsewhere.

So is Maureen Dowd worth $1.15, as I suggested? Or how about $3.42, as Slate's readers suggested?

Either way, I just wish she -- and the Times -- would do better.

Because, otherwise, who cares anymore?

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