There is a fine line between trying to please for pleasure's sake and manipulation, and I am not convinced that Lewinsky crossed it. Dowd, who I will admit was a more eagle-eyed observer of the affair, doesn't explain why I should believe otherwise. Later, Dowd tells the story of a Clinton adviser:
The funniest part was when [Clinton strategist Dick] Morris tried to impress the two-hundred-dollar-an-hour hooker by showing her a draft of an Al Gore speech.
I found myself wondering why this was funny, whether it was a cheap play on a stereotype or something smarter than that. Is it circumstantially funny, as who thinks political speeches are good (paid) pre- or post-coital subjects? Or is it because Gore's speeches were not impressive to anyone? Or is the humour in the idea that a hooker would care about politics? Because if it's the third, it's a too-easy play on a stereotype.
Dowd isn't reluctant to call others to the task for hypocrisy or lazy thought. In several instances she dresses down the media for its treatment of feminism, women, and women's issues. In one of the more astute, soundbite-quality quips in the book, she compares treatment of Capitol Hill's scandalous women with the megalomania of the of the powers that be:
Male critics accused Anita Hill and Monica Lewinsky of having erotomania —fantasizing that a man is in love with you. But isn't empire-mania — fantasizing that occupying a country will be a cakewalk — a more dangerous malady?
On a lighter note, Dowd discusses the cartoon vixen phenomenon: Why is it that Jessica Rabbit, Betty Boop, and even Betty and Veronica can cause a man to shift in his seat, yet Superman, Barney Rubble, and Shaggy leave women as cold as the skies between here and Krypton?
I began to see the sick logic of it. Guys always asked, Veronica or Betty? (The quintessential pigtailed virgin/predatory whore, Mary Ann/Ginger, Jen/Angelina, sweet blonde/voluptuous brunette dichotomy has gained new life on hip cashmere hoodies and scarves at the L.A. boutique Kitson's that ask ARE YOU A VERONICA? or ARE YOU A BETTY?)
But you never hear girls musing, Archie or Reggie? Bart or Homer? And those dudes are not pictured on hip T-shirts at Kitson's
And yet, from here, the contemplation veers again into the territory of stereotypes:
For most guys, the more cartoonish the better. Perfect features, placid expressions, perfect bodies, no demands. (Maybe this yen is tied to men's attraction to childish female faces.)