She knows low-brow! She knows high! In a single paragraph, she proves her pop culture IQ spans centuries (and oceans)! Not every Big League columnist is hip to Shakespeare and American Idol (not every column reader, either, but for the showboater it’s never about the audience). Not every opinion writer can look at Bill Clinton’s “howl[ing] at the moon— and at reporters — about Obama” and immediately think/write, “[Clinton’s] starting to make King Lear look like Ryan Seacrest.” But yes, Maureen Dowd can.

We puzzled over the Clinton-Lear-Seacrest connection here in the office and, with some help from an English major among us, came up with: King Lear demanded flattery; Ryan Seacrest is ever the target of mockery (on and off Idol). Bill Clinton’s “howling” (which Dowd reads as really about adoration lost) makes King Lear (that notorious adoration junkie) look like Ryan Seacrest (that notoriously good-natured punching bag)? Or…?

Also: looks like Dowd’s really looking forward to the Democratic Convention. Hasn’t she heard there’s “very little real news” there?


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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.