As everyone in the world knows by now, Maureen Dowd generously turned her column over to her brother Kevin, reprinting an email that expresses the happiness felt by most conservatives at the re-election of President Bush. Here’s a representative bit:
Now, just as four years ago, I breathe a huge sigh of relief and rejoice in the common sense of the American voting public. Congratulations to President Bush for winning re-election in a poker game played with a stacked deck. No candidate, including Richard Nixon, ever had to endure the biased and unfair tactics of our major media in their attempt to influence the outcome of an election. … He never complained, just systematically set about delivering the same consistent message. You may remember that four years ago, I felt physically ill watching the Democrats try to legislate their way to the presidency….
Of course Thanksgiving is family time, and the Dowds are an interesting family, according to Heidi Benson’s profile of MoDo in the San Francisco Chronicle:
The youngest of five in an Irish American family, Dowd’s father was a D.C. cop in charge of security at the Senate; her mother was a homemaker. The whole family, particularly her sister, loves Bush. As young men, her three much older brothers were Senate pages who met Presidents John Kennedy and Richard Nixon….”I always felt really loved. I don’t think I make a lot of decisions in the present based on things that were upsetting to me in the past. My mom really loved me and my dad, too. He was 61 when I was born, so my older brothers did lots of the things with me that he couldn’t do when he was in his 70s,” she said.
Her eldest brother, Kevin, is the reason she works in journalism:
In 1973, Dowd graduated with a degree in English from Catholic University in Washington, D.C., and was happily dispensing tennis balls at the Washington Hilton when fate — make that family — intervened. “My family wanted me to have a job where I didn’t wear a tennis dress to work,” she said. So her eldest brother made a call to a friend who was metro editor at the Washington Star.
“We met at Poor Robert’s, a bar on Connecticut Avenue,” said that editor, Dave Burgin. How did he know Dowd’s brother Kevin? “From the bar.” Burgin, now a consultant with the Alameda Newspaper Group, has a storied career of his own, including a stint as executive editor of the San Francisco Examiner in the 1980s. “Maureen was born and reared there, so she knew Washington, and she was far better read than most people I knew. When I met her, the craic was good — that’s Gaelic for repartee,” Burgin explains. “The whole family was like that, the one-uppers and the slam-dunks came early and often. To survive, she had to learn it.”
Her repartee earned her a job at the Star as a dictationist. “Burgin asked me how fast I could type. I said 40 words per minute,” Dowd said, and soon she was working the 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. shift (so she could keep her day job at the tennis club). She wore headphones and used a typewriter to key in stories as reporters phoned them in. Dowd was a quick study and dictationists were encouraged to write in their spare time. Soon she was working on her own stories.
It is hard to read the Kevin Dowd guest column without wondering what precisely her motivation in running it. MoDo became a national celebrity journalist by imputing dialogue and motivations to her subjects. It may be more difficult discerning her own. As the Chronicle article put it:
“I’ve never been to a shrink — my father thought they were witch doctors,” she confessed….
Whatever her motivation, it will be the most widely read column of her career. Thanks, Kevin.