“Who is more of an establishment figure, after all?” Maureen Dowd writes in her New York Times column Saturday. (Gage Skidmore / CC 2.0)

This election year is getting curiouser and curiouser by the minute. But just when it seemed as if nothing could possibly come as a surprise, New York Times mainstay Maureen Dowd comes out with a column about Hillary Clinton that veers sharply off the establishment script, and, even more startling, lands smack on the dot.

That’s good news for Dowd, but for Clinton, the outcome is less certain. On the upside, she could use it as a recruiting tool on susceptible Republican voters.

Below is a brief selection from Dowd’s takedown, which appeared Saturday under the headline “The Perfect G.O.P. Candidate” (hint: She’s not talking about Donald Trump):

All these woebegone Republicans whining that they can’t rally behind their flawed candidate is crazy. The G.O.P. angst, the gnashing and wailing and searching for last-minute substitutes and exit strategies, is getting old.

They already have a 1-percenter who will be totally fine in the Oval Office, someone they can trust to help Wall Street, boost the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, cuddle with hedge funds, secure the trade deals beloved by corporate America, seek guidance from Henry Kissinger and hawk it up — unleashing hell on Syria and heaven knows where else.

The Republicans have their candidate: It’s Hillary.

They can’t go with Donald Trump. He’s too volatile and unhinged.

The erstwhile Goldwater Girl and Goldman Sachs busker can be counted on to do the normal political things, not the abnormal haywire things. Trump’s propounding could drag us into war, plunge us into a recession and shatter Washington into a thousand tiny bits.

Hillary will keep the establishment safe. Who is more of an establishment figure, after all? Her husband was president, and he repealed Glass-Steagall, signed the Defense of Marriage Act and got rid of those pesky welfare queens.

Right, so that’s likely to get a reader’s attention—more precisely, a New York Times reader’s attention, since Dowd is hardly the first journalist to beat this particular drum. Several others, in fact, have been practically jumping up and down on it for months, if not years. Take, for example, this earlier column by Truthdig Editor in Chief Robert Scheer:

Follow the money and it is obvious that the Democratic Party as much as the GOP is now the plaything of the superrich. GOP nominee Trump is one of the few egomaniacal outliers who think they can game the system on their own. But in this election, for the multinational corporate hustlers who view governance as a means of establishing a convenient world order supportive of their plunder, Clinton triangulation best fits the bill.

And there were others who, like Scheer, overlooked accusations of “helping Trump win” with their criticisms in favor of making a clear-eyed assessment of precisely what Americans would be signing up for if they decide to help install a Clinton II in the Oval Office. A few days after that article launched, The Atlantic’s Russell Berman noticed a trend among a certain bracket of GOP loyalists—namely, billionaires:

Donald Trump is hemorrhaging support among the people that should understand him best: billionaires.

In the last several days, two wealthy Republican donors, one former GOP mayor, and the nation’s second-richest person have all thrown in their lot with Hillary Clinton. The defections not only deprive Trump of millions in potential campaign donations; they give Clinton more powerful surrogates to attack Trump’s most prized strength—his business success.

Still, Dowd’s decision to take up this argument is not insignificant, least of all when considering her parting words, in which she, like a GOP strategist she quotes, compares Clinton to a certain foreign policy mastermind who pushed the U.S. into ill-conceived overseas ventures.

(Hint: She’s not talking about Henry Kissinger.)

—Posted by Kasia Anderson

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