Baldwin: Men ‘More Purposeful’ — Dowd: Hamlet Early Crush

Photograph by Larry French/Getty Images for Ovation

Alec Baldwin and Maureen Dowd at a reception on March 24, 2014 in Washington, DC

Longtime friends Alec Baldwin and Maureen Dowd played a game of “he said, she said” at the Kennedy Center last night.

Sporting a baseball cap emblazoned with a big Y chromosome, the fiery actor kidded the flame-throwing newspaper columnist for her book  “Are Men Necessary?”

“A lot has been made lately of the negative effects of male aggression and maleness in general,” Baldwin said, tongue firmly in cheek. “This concerns the Y chromosome community a great deal.”

“There was talk of the government shutdown being averted by back-channeled dialogue between female members of Congress,” he said. “It was suggested that overly macho men led to the gridlock. Let me ask you: Do you really think it would be any better if women ran the show in the House and the Senate?”

“Women have no sense of spatial relationships. Talk about gridlock! They walk around the halls of Congress, forgive me, four abreast, never thinking that other people need to move more quickly. Men are simply more purposeful, more aware of time and space.”

But Dowd, he said, “understands men and likes them anyway. Y chromosomers love Maureen because she’s a gorgeous redhead who can cut you to pieces in a single sentence.”

He introduced the New York Times columnist as the 27th annual Nancy Hanks Lecturer on the Arts and Public Policy, hosted by Americans For the Arts. Today the organization is lobbying Congress for more arts funding as part of Arts Advocacy Day.

Dowd, who often weaves culture into her column, said her girlhood fascinations with “film noir” and Shakespeare lighted her path as a writer. Hamlet was an early crush.

“I immediately fell in love with the Dane,” she recalled. “I couldn’t wait for that crazy girl Ophelia to get herself off to a nunnery. I knew if I was his girlfriend all would be okay. The guy just needed a little Zoloft.”

Through the years, she’s introduced presidents and presidential candidates to the joys of film, literature and television.

President Barack Obama is a fan “Mad Men,” because of her, she asserted. “Everyone smokes and it’s well-written,” she told him about the show. The president became so fond of the series, he had his aides order the entire season, she reported.

Dowd started a cultural quiz for presidential candidates, to “shake out some spontaneity,” because, she said, “culture has often been viewed skeptically in politics.”

Michael Dukakis, for example, said his favorite pastime was spreading his lawn with “black mulch. He confused culture with horticulture.”

Gary Hart, however, loved Tolstoy and Kierkegaard. “Perhaps if he’d been caught with Tolstoy on the Monkey Business, and not Donna Rice, things would have been different,” she said of the pleasure boat cruise that the erstwhile candidate for president took before reporters caught up with him and his date at a Washington townhouse.

What was George W. Bush’s favorite play?

“Cats,” she said. (Apparently the president didn’t realize it’s a musical.) “No,” was his simple reply when asked about opera.

After her talk, she was joined by Baldwin, and members of Congress including Sen. Chris Murphy, Connecticut Democrat, for an after-party at 701 Restaurant. Baldwin and Dowd sat at the same table, no doubt continuing their Venus-Mars debates.

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