Wednesday, April 4, 2007
Personal Asides: Good News about Uncle Ben Matthew Dowd, Bushs Pollster, Reneges Which Puts Him on The Times Page 1.
During the bad old days of the `60s when political correctness ruled, Uncle Bens Rice lost its patriarchal figure of the black aristocrat rather like a maitre d who was the symbol of the product. His black face disappeared from the package in response to bogus community pressureas bogus a pressure as the fiction that legions of native Americans whom we know as Indians, were indignant about Chief Illiniwek, the symbol of the Fighting Illini. The community pressure actually came from Senate president Emil Jones, the big daddy of U of I funding, who was upset on the grounds of conventional wisdom, nothing more. But now The New York Times, no less, finds that the black face of Uncle Ben is coming back to the packages because there is a maturity and the old forces of extortion and intimidation have weakened.
In the 1970s, I was the board chairman of a small private Catholic college in St. Louis, named after John Henry Cardinal Newman a college funded by the enormous wealth of an heir to the Miller brewing fortune. Newman was a very good small college, the forerunner for some great successes among the private Catholic collegesSt. Thomas Aquinas in California, St. Thomas More in New Hampshire, Christendom in Port Royal, Virginia. Unfortunately our small college was not able to survive some dissension in the primary funding family. Yet it accomplished a great dealeducating two of my children fully Tom and Mary Catherine and Michael partially (he transferring to yet another small college that was tucked inside a larger one, Ignatius Institute which was affiliated with the University of San Francisco).
While chairman of Newman, I met a young student there who was about the age of our oldest son, Tom. He was Matthew Dowd. Matthew was a young man of very bright intellect. In the years that followed his matriculation at Newman, he married, became a Democrat, moved to Texas, divorced, mastered the polling trade, became involved with the Republicans in that state and, indeed, became the official pollster for George W. Bush. In 2004 he was all over the television and news, interpreting polls without much pzazz or spin but usually giving a reasonably accurate formulation.
After Bushs reelection, his stated goal was to go back to Texas and run for state comptroller.
Imagine my surprise when last Sunday turning to the New York Times I saw Matthew Dowd on page 1. Before I read the story, I was fearful for Matt as I ascertained no Bush Republican gets on the Sunday page 1 of this very good but very adversarial newspaper unless he is (a) indicted, (b) accused of grand larceny or (c) found in a very incriminating embarrassing set of circumstances. Well, I had forgotten another condition that gets a Bush Republican on page 1that is if he renounces his prior conservative sins and this is what Matt Dowd has done. He is sorry he helped Bush because of the Iraq War; he is almost like those captured prisoners once held by the North Vietnamese in that he denounces his past totally and unqualifiedly. The Times exulted Dowd triumphantly by reporting that he is sorry for his past transgressions and joyously proclaiming that Dowd is once again a Democrat.
And also evidently a very troubled young man. Once again divorced; the divorce following the loss of one prematurely born twin. The story would have been perfect from The Times point of view if George W. Bushs war had so disturbed the mother in giving birth that the twin died. But the passionately copperhead newspaper wrong so often in its long history cannot score 100%. Suffice to say that Matt Dowd who has been forgotten long after the Bush reelection, is now restored to fame because he so pleased The Times in assailing the president.