FIRST, let me affirm that Ms Dowd reports that her father entered this country as a 19-year-old Irish immigrant who earned his citizenship by fighting in WWI. This would place him somewhere in his mid-50s when Maureen was born (in 1952). Not an impossible feat at that age, I can attest, but certainly more exhausting.
Now then. Jack Daniels™ is a young man's drink. Young, because it is sweetened, and because the inferior effects of its chemical aging, compared to maturation in barrel, ought to become apparent as one ages oneself, chemically or otherwise (that "Old No. 7" used to read "7 Years Old", kids). And Man's because it is marketed with playing cards and bandanas and suchlike, "I'm a Rebel" geegaws that no Woman in her right mind would fall for, unless she had already exhibited signs like stitching her Prom dress together from Confederate battle flags. Which, come to think of it, suggests she'd already been sampling the stuff by the onset of menses at the latest.
I'm not impugning anyone's taste. I myself have enough juvenile food and drink preferences to fill the kiddie menu at a middling steakhouse, and if you happen to prefer Chef Boy-R-Dee™ ravioli to the genuine item it's your own business. But if you decide to write about it you ought at least to acknowledge that yours is a minority opinion akin to a preference for driving everywhere in reverse.
Personally, we rarely drink highballs, which are designed to keep the steady drinker from consuming quite as much alcohol, as we prefer to patronize the distiller, the brewer, and the viticulturalist of distinction and to sample his or her wares as intended, with little or no dilution, and often straight from the bottle. Again, we do not impugn the use of alcohol as social lubricant, and we are not unaware of those times ("cocktail parties") when one drinks, in part, from the obligation to keep up. Nor are the charms of the genre totally lost on us; the occasional friendly buzz from a vodka-and-lemonade makes a welcome and refreshing Summertime addition to some suburban croquet or al fresco mate swapping.
But here we begin to scratch the surface of the complaint. While we are under no obligation to live by The Rules, it's a nicer point as to whether we're exempt from even recognizing them if we trip over them. There would be nothing "wrong" about drinking Chopin vodka and lemonade. There are at least two things wrong with calling it. Premium vodkas are made, with great care, generally, to exhibit individual characteristics. Domestic vodkas (which, by law, must be odorless and taste-free) are more amenable to blending. The showy adulteration of, let's say, Grey Goose, with, let's say, Hi-C, is pretentious, wasteful, and the opposite of connoisseurship, unless Vodka and Grapey Grape happens to be your drink and The Goose happens to be the only choice on the shelf.
With brown spirits domestic brandy is the choice for blending (and not Hennessey VSOP, let alone a decent Cognac). Even a bourbon-ish spirit with as little real claim to distinction as Jack Daniels is misused under the circumstances; if one idiosyncratically prefers its blowzy charms to superior products, why hide it at the bottom of a sea of mix (and why does one sweeten a Coke)? There's a Catch-22 quality to the call, which leaves us to conclude that the drinker, or in this case the writer, is in thrall to the pitiless master Mass-Market Advertising.
It's an inescapable condition, our modern servitude, and one does not blame the slave for his chains, unless one is a Movement "Conservative" pundit, in which case one generally tries to qualify it. But aside from a permanent sunless imprisonment, there's no real excuse for him not to look at the blue sky sometimes, or the starry night, and ask himself What If? Dowd is fifty-five years old. She's successful, high-profile, and living in one of the world's great cities, and her job almost certainly permits, if not requires, sampling something of the good life. Yet the choice is suspiciously common, which I realize sounds like snobbery, but isn't; it's meant as a criticism of her writer's ear, however tinny. She could have said "wine spritzers" and I would have found it sorta humorous. She could have used "Cosmos" or "Appletinis" or "Cuba Librés" and it would have slid down easy. Okay, except for the Cuba crack, but that still would have shown some welcome writerly spark. I suppose it's possible that Hillary Clinton, a woman of intelligence, wide experience, and disposable income, drinks dilute rotgut, in which case I'm an asshole and it's not the first time, but I suspect the betting would run the other way. I suppose it's possible that Dowd snatched Jack and ginger from the advertising aether or some overheard remark at someone else's wedding and is herself a lifelong teetotaler. But assuming she proofreads her own copy, I sincerely hope not, for her sake.
None of which touches on the fact of an entrenchedly middle-aged New York journalist--with a set of gender issues more appropriate to a small-town, home-schooled fifteen-year-old named Rebekah--who appears to believe that pouring liquid depressants down a subject's gullet is the key to a revelation of True Self. But then, it's Saturday, and this started off to be a note.