I ran across this amusing diatribe (Warning: It's from The Nation), from 1996. Susan Faludi attacks Maureen Dowd for her lack of focus on Washington, and her shallow depth when she made a foray into the political world.
My, how times change! I doubt that anyone will find MoDo's scribblings of late to be "apolitical" , although "gossipy" still applies.
I found the article amusing because every single one of Faludi's attacks upon Dowd is from the left; she holds up Molly Ivins, Barbara Ehrenreich, Katha Pollitt and Anna Quindlen as examples of columnists Dowd should emulate (no mention of conservative women such as Mona Charen, Michelle Malkin, Kathleen Parker, and Phyllis Schlafly, of course; this is Susan Faludi), and she rants because Dowd wasn't using her space on the Times editorial pages for social crusades as did Anna Quindlen, her predecessor. An example of the outrage:
Dowd's decorative approach would be harmless, even fun, if she didn't bear the onus of being the Times's only female columnist. Quindlen dignified her post with strong, well-argued stands on social issues from abortion to rape to the rights of single mothers. "I'm a feminist, first and foremost," Quindlen told me. She saw her role as "a crusader for the voiceless," especially voiceless women. "Now there's a newer pundit role emerging," Quindlen said: "to illuminate the absurdity of modern life." She demurred from criticizing Dowd, whom she helped get her first Times job as a city reporter, but Quindlen said it troubles her that "I don't remember a column on abortion" by Dowd.
That's because there hasn't been one. Dowd appears to have no interest in addressing women's rights and she seems only to write about individual women when she can make fun of them, sometimes brutal fun, as she did when alluding to "the nervous retreat of the way-overweight Shannon Faulkner." (What did she think of the misogynous Citadel's treatment of Shannon? She never says.) The woman whose surface she derides with the most regularity is Hillary Clinton. Dowd sneers at the First Lady's "latest fluffer-nutter make-over," and then, after dubbing her "Earth Mother meet Mommie Dearest," she scoffs that it's "hard to believe" that Hillary Clinton gets a lot of flak because she's a strong woman.
The whole article is filled with logic (and I use the term loosely) like that. It's worth a look, simply because of the impact it might have had on Dowd. While she is still superficial, she is no longer apolitical.