UPDATE: Paul Kelly comes on board! Maureen Dowd a sign of The New York Times. (My header’s better.)

Maureen Dowd is in Australia, and to make the trip a tax deduction she is journalisming for the once-venerable New York Times. She shouldn’t have.

But it’s hard to write about in Australia when you don’t know anything about it … as Dowd proves.

It’s not the same writing about politics in the US. Everyone knows something about US politics. It’s ubiquitous. That’s not true of Australia, so writing about Australian politics requires more than a glance at front pages as you walk past a newsstand in the airport.

Or talking to a small group of like-minded people. Like Julia Baird and other luvvies from the ABC.

Dowd and Baird in conversation for the ABC

Dowd and Baird in conversation for the ABC’s new show Luvvies at home and abroad.

This is the problem with Maureen Dowd’s article.

Quotes are from Dowd’s article and are self explanatory. Says Dowd:

  • “Slimy Dutton”: OK, OK, Peter Dutton is not an attractive man physically and some of the policies he has enacted annoy people of the Left. That’s kind of his job. But he is not “obsequious, sycophantic, excessively deferential”, which is a common definition of ‘slimy’. As the spill showed, he was none of those things. Nor was he good at maths. It should also be noted, this is why ordinary people switch off. Yes, Dowd is an opinion writer, but without evidence he is slimy she is no better than a Twitter screamer.
  • “The soignée Julie Bishop”: Pretentious, moi? Oui, Ms Bishop does dress elegantly (but you knew that). That’s a problem. Nothing pulls blue-collar voters in like hobnobbing in thousand-dollar gowns and going to flashy cocktail events around the world on the taxpayer’s coin, although it helped make her an effective fundraiser.  Perhaps that’s one reason she got 11 votes. What has also been ignored – almost as much as Bishop was – is that calling her “the loyal deputy”, which she had been for 11 years, was not a compliment.
  • “ScoMo, as the Antipodean prime minister is nicknamed, was not particularly well known”: he was the Treasurer, Maureen. Try to keep up. Essentially, he was the second most prominent person in the government. And he stopped the boats. He was very famous. He was on the news every night as Treasurer. And as Minister for Immigration and Stopping the Boats. This shows ignorance.
  • “I wonder if, like Karen Pence, the devout Morrison was bothered by Trump’s flouting of the Commandments. (Thou Shalt Not Covet All the Playmates and Porn Stars at a Lake Tahoe Golf Tournament)”: Funny, kind of, but as a good Pentecostal, Morrison would know that it is not for him to judge, but God (if you believe that kind of thing).
  • “Refugees marooned off Australia’s coast”: they are not marooned. They are free to leave but not come to Australia. Ms Dowd should embiggen her circle of friends. An embiggened circle would have told her that.
  • “Both [Trump, of course, and Morrison] throw red meat to the base”: I know what this means but evidence would be nice. And if they do, this is what the base does, which is why Bill Shorten talks about penalty rates and Bernie Sanders talks about “medicare for all”. Your base expects that … which is just one reason Malcolm Turnbull got the chop.
  • “Both craft their political identities with dog whistles around the issue of protecting their countries from hordes of migrants”:around 50,000 people arrived by boat between 2010 and 2013 (when ScoMo “stopped the boats”). Around 1500 people drowned (ie, were marooned at the bottom of the ocean).
  • “Morrison, who did not condemn Trump’s infamous travel ban”: neither, it turns out, did the US Supreme Court. And it was infamous compared with what?
  • “When a popular Australian rugby player stated his belief on Instagram last spring that gays who don’t “repent of their sins and turn to God” are going to hell, Morrison chimed in, saying, “Good for him for standing up for his faith’”: had he been Muslim, I am sure Ms Dowd would have said the same thing. But Christians are different.

The takeaway

The great Andrew Klavan refers to the editorial pages of the NYT was “knucklehead row”. He’s right. Dowd helps prove it. She also proves research is invaluable to journalism. She should try it. The change of scenery will do her good.