The XX Factor

Does Maureen Dowd Miss High School?

Noreen , while I’m still trying to wrap my head around Maureen Dowd’s ” Mean Girls ” column, I think it’s worth noting that, for a clique to splinter, there has to be a clique in the first place. And I think that’s what bothers me the most about Dowd’s column, her assumption that  there IS such a clique.

I don’t know that there’s ever been a monolithic “Republican woman,” and the rise of Sarah Palin and the introduction of the Tea Party has only made it more difficult to stereotype conservative women.  In Dowd’s eyes, there seems to be no difference between Jan Brewer, a woman with nearly 20 years in state government, and Christine O’Donnell, a 37-year-old with only failed campaigns under her belt; no difference between Meg Whitman, a self-made billionaire with whose views are too establishment for much of the Tea Party, and Sharron Angle, who’s pretty much a creation of the Tea Party.

And even within the Tea Party, it’s not all sisterhood and pillow fights. Palin waited until the last minute to endorse Sharron Angle, and she didn’t endorse Christine O’Donnell until about a week before the Delaware primary .

That doesn’t mean that the GOP won’t see some catty infighting-the e-mail smackdown between Todd Palin and Joe Miller was positively adolescent. But for Dowd to imply that all these women are cookie cutters shows an unwillingness to actually learn anything about them as candidates, or to learn anything about conservative women.

To complete the tortured high-school analogy, it’s easy to sit in the back of the room and fire spitballs at people you don’t like. Over at the National Review ’s Corner blog, Dana Perino has an interesting take on WHY Dowd might be acting like the brainy girl who never gets invited to go to the mall with popular girls: “A column like today’s keeps those cocktail-party invitations coming.” Where I’m sure the conversation is always high-minded and intellectual, and no one calls anyone else names.

Photograph of Maureen Dowd by Win McNamee for Getty Images.