A little over five months before Donald Trump won the presidency, and on the day of his Electoral College victory, CNN’s senior political commentator and New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd wrote an article with a striking headline that called into question the propriety of a victory. “She has always been a lightning rod for liberals and conservatives alike — a person with whom there is no relationship, a figure who hardly belongs in the discussion of current affairs,” Ms. Dowd wrote. “But her wild pronunciamentos about the glass ceiling for women — about men going down in a firing squad for killing their sisters, about misogyny and rape culture — have always created turbulence in the room.”
You have to guess what kind of reaction Ms. Dowd’s words generated in December 2016. “Hillary Clinton suffers the indignity of being the first woman to be nominated and the first to lose to a man for president,” wrote Republican strategist Erick Erickson. “God bless you and your calm, clear good judgment.” In a story with no direct quotes, The Wall Street Journal wrote, “Within a week of her defeat to Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton stunned supporters of Hillary Clinton when she wrote her first column since her loss to Mr. Trump on Monday, according to a message sent by her staff.”
Ms. Dowd, who sat down with BuzzFeed for a wide-ranging interview, said she “wasn’t going to pretend” that her own career had been an “exercise in self-indulgence,” citing her efforts to influence behavior and shape political narratives. “You’re never clear on what you’re going to feel about something until you get it,” she said. “For me, as a public person, the process is very delicate. It’s very difficult to process. It’s difficult to be emotional and then articulate your emotions because there are so many different parts and opinions and emotions that come out.”
So how do political journalists build a confident voice for themselves, Ms. Dowd asked. “The most powerful new rule in my career was to realize that when I’m talking about issues, it doesn’t make any difference if they’re foreign or domestic. It makes all the difference that I’m talking about something that’s personally relevant to me.”
Ms. Dowd, who is an actress, hopes to branch out on television. “Once you get a television show green-lit, there’s a lot of baggage,” she said. “You don’t go off the dial or change the show or play someone totally different.”
That doesn’t mean that Ms. Dowd, who has appeared in several small roles, doesn’t imagine that opportunities might become available to her. “I always want to keep doing as much as I can as long as it’s relevant to me,” she said.
Ms. Dowd’s new book, “Letters to My Daughter,” was published Tuesday.