Today, the New York Times ran an opinion piece by Maureen Dowd that quoted New York City mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio's wife Chirlane McCray as saying some kinda anti-lesbian stuff about candidate (and lesbian) Christine Quinn's ability to relate to other women. But it turns out that what Dowd said McCray said wasn't what McCray actually said. And now we've got a big old Dowd-y mess on our hands.
For those of you who live in the land of Not-New York, City Council speaker Christine Quinn has been Mayor Mike Bloomberg's heir apparent for many moons. But in recent weeks, Bill de Blasio has been playing catch-up with the frontrunner on account of the fact that many progressives are feeling kind of waffley about where she stands on issues like Stop & Frisk and income inequality versus de Blasio. Plus, Anthony Weiner. That whole circus.
So things are getting heated between the serious candidates who might actually win this thing. It's a game of inches. It's a game of potshots. I don't know what I'm talking about; I'm just doing my best impression of a bored cable news expert spouting vague political cliches.
Point is, right now in the mayoral race, stupid shit matters. So when Maureen Dowd quoted Chirlane McCray as saying Quinn is-
not accessible ... She's not the kind of person I feel I can go up to and talk to about issues like taking care of children at a young age and paid sick leave
-making it sort of sound like Chirlane McCray is using dog whistle anti-lesbian talk, it matters. Round these parts, we don't take kindly to homophobia. Literally everyone in New York City attends a Pride parade. It's practically social mandate.
Of course, Quinn seized the opportunity to paint her opponent's campaign as gay-hatey, releasing a statement Politicker called "blistering," but to me seems more "gently scalding." Either way, burn.
I have spoken fondly of Ms. McCray and Mr. de Blasio’s family. It’s unfortunate that they cannot do the same about mine –no matter how different it might be from theirs. But for anyone who is interested, I have a large, loving family of Catullo’s and Quinn’s, with 10 nieces and nephews who I absolutely adore, like [they're] my own.
But wait! Wait an obscure Greek mythology referencing second, Dowd readers. Turns out, Dowd's direct McCray quote was actually more of a vague McCray impression. What de Blasio's wife had actually said was this:
Well, I am a woman, and she is not speaking to the issues I care about, and I think a lot of women feel the same way. I don't see her speaking to the concerns of women who have to take care of children at a young age or send them to school and after school, paid sick days, workplace; she is not speaking to any of those issues. What can I say? And she's not accessible, she's not the kind of person that, I feel, that you can go up and talk to and have a conversation with about those things. And I suspect that other women feel the same thing I'm feeling.
Saying Quinn isn't as progressive as her husband on issues like childcare for low income women is a far cry from implying that Quinn — AND LESBIANS — don't understand family. And Dowd's misquoting was dangerous, misleading and, as Mother Jones' Kevin Drum writes, an "embarrassment."
But that didn't stop Quinn from insisting that OMG MCCRAY WAS TOTALLY BEING HOMOPHOBIC and that the "essence" of McCray's quote remains the same. The de Blasio campaign insists that McCray meant no homophobic disrespect; she was just pointing out that Quinn is less politically progressive than her husband.
And so, once again, Maureen Dowd, the awkwardly drunk high school English teacher you ran into at a bar over Thanksgiving of opinion columnists, has just confused everyone.
But here's the upside: this is a very public disagreement where one determined to be the "loser" by public opinion will be the one who is proven to be the least tolerant. Progress?