In the spring of 2008, NYT columnist Maureen Dowd fixed up Helena Andrews, a black former NYT assistant, on a blind date with Obama aide Reggie Love.
Two years later, the woman is now accusing Dowd of "racial profiling" in arranging the unsuccessful date -- to which Love showed up an hour late and in his gym clothes.
By the time of the fix-up, Andrews -- who had met Dowd one day when assigned to help the columnist with her computer -- had gone on to become a reporter for Politico. The two women were covering an Obama campaign event in Philadelphia when Dowd had the idea to fix the two up.
"I've got a guy for you," Dowd told Andrews. "He's so hot, it's perfect." A few days later, Dowd's assistant called to confirm the connection.
Now, in a brief recollection published in the latest issue of Marie Claire, Andrews has placed the event in the context of "racial profiling" by white people like Dowd, who assumed she wanted to date only black men. She even notes that her own mother tried to fix her up with a black man she met at Ikea. The nerve of her!
"Suddenly everyone seemed determined to cast me as Michelle redux," Andrews recalled of that period during the campaign, when race was frequently discussed, "and all that was missing was my very own Barack."
In the essay, Andrews cites statistics showing that college-educated black women outnumber black men with a degree in big cities -- "leaving a very limited dating pool for anyone looking for a black boyfriend," she writes.
And so, when Dowd followed up with Love's number, Andrews recalled that it struck her as "statistically ill-advised" to pass up the chance.
But that hasn't stopped Andrews from now seeing Dowd's act of friendship through a prism of race, and as her sole concrete example of what she observes as an unfortunate trend.
"My matchmakers used simple math: Black professional + black professional = Huxtables," Andrews writes. "I'm not saying that my colleagues and neighbors should have set me up with white friends, necessarily. I was just disappointed that, despite all my more awesome qualities, the main thing they all saw was my skin."
Andrews has since joined the staff of AOL's Politics Daily website, and has a book coming out now from HarperCollins called "Bitch is the New Black." She also writes a culture column for Slate's "The Root."
Responding to our email, Dowd declined to comment on the story.
Frankly, we don't see what Dowd did to warrant this public suggestion, however benign, of racial profiling. Reggie Love was, by all accounts, a catch -- a handsome personal aide to a Presidential candidate, with a great future in government service.
It strikes us as unfair to take Dowd's act of kindness, done as a personal gesture, and turn it into a public example of anything other than that. Dowd's an easy and popular target, but that doesn't give people the right to invade her privacy for the sake of making a point.