Wanker of the Day: Richard Cohen

I am actually reaching whatever the next stage is after impatience and exasperation with these Beltway pundits’ efforts to psychoanalyze the president’s ‘maimed soul.’ This morning it is Richard Cohen’s turn.

What these people were seeking was not an eruption of anger, not a tantrum and not a full-scale denunciation of an oil company. What they wanted instead was a sign that this catastrophe meant something to Obama, that it was not merely another problem that had crossed his desk — and this time just wouldn’t budge. He showed not the slightest sign in the idiom that really counts in a media age — body language — that he gave a damn. He could see your pain, he could talk about your pain, but he gave no indication that he felt it.

One can understand. Obama’s father deserted the family and afterward visited his son only once. He twice was separated from his mother, who lived in Indonesia without him. He was partially raised by his grandparents — an elderly white couple. If the president is what the shrinks call “well-defended,” who can blame him? It’s ironic that Oprah Winfrey was maybe Obama’s most significant early backer when the man himself is so un-Oprah. He cannot emote.

This need for men of a certain age to be led by Captain Kirk and not Mr. Spock is getting tiresome. I’d like to know what it was in Mr. Cohen’s upbringing that turned him into such a needy dick.

It’s astonishing to see Cohen call for dumb leadership.

Fortune has not smiled on Obama’s presidency. His one uncontested attribute — a shimmering intellect — has become suspect. A world of smart guys has turned against us. Everyone at Goldman Sachs is smart, but they seem to have the amorality mocked by the songwriter Tom Lehrer in his sendup of the celebrated American rocket scientist Wernher von Braun, a former Nazi (” ‘Once the rockets are up, who cares where they come down? That’s not my department,’ says Wernher von Braun”).

The oil industry is full of smart people, and so is the mortgage industry. Smart people seem to have brought us nothing but trouble. Smarts without values is dangerous — threatening, scary, virtually un-American. This is why a succession of archconservative eccentrics have succeeded. Their values are obvious, often shockingly so. We know what they want, just not how they are ever going to get it. Experience has become a handicap and inexperience a virtue. Smart is out. Dumb is in.

Who are the members on the list of archconservatives who have succeeded? Why is Cohen comparing the president to the crooks at Goldman Sachs, the mortage-lending industry, and BP? Did Cohen just compare Obama to a Nazi and suggest that he doesn’t care who he bombs? Is being stupid and inexperienced really a virtue? Does this man sniff glue for breakfast?

And why do all these columns end as incoherently as they begin.

It’s okay to trade with China. It’s okay to hate it, too.

Pragmatism is fine — as long as it is complicated by regret. But that indispensable wince is precisely what Obama doesn’t show. It is not essential that he get angry or cry. It is essential, though, that he show us who he is. As of now, we haven’t a clue.

We are supposed to hate China? Obama is supposed to wince everytime he mentions China? He sends Geithner and Clinton over to China to convince them to float their currency and he succeeds, but his reward is to be told that he doesn’t show enough regret?

Richard Cohen is indisputably the worst columnist in America to have permanent space at a major newspaper. And he has a lot of competition. Just at the Washington Post he has to compete with Charles Krauthammer, George Will, and David Broder. The man has rocks in his head.

73 comments for “Wanker of the Day: Richard Cohen

  1. June 22, 2010 at 10:24 am

    Why is Cohen comparing the president to the crooks at Goldman Sachs, the mortage-lending industry, and BP?

    Um, maybe because his administration is filled with Goldman Sachs hangers on, Goldman Sachs was a huge campaign backer, and BP’s Sylvia Baca is still at MMS?  And didn’t the Obama adminsitration drop cramdown because it would hurt the banks?

    Did Cohen just compare Obama to a Nazi and suggest that he doesn’t care who he bombs?

    Cohen’s still an idiot, but hello, does the phrase “unmanned drones kill women and children indiscriminately in Pakistan” ring a bell?  As for Nazis, while the Obama adminsitration isn’t marching people into ovens, would “concentration camp” be an inaccurate description of Bagram and Guantanamo?  Is der Spiegel lying when they write that torture continues at Bagram? Do we not hold people in Guantanamo that we know are innocent?

    I’m not going to argue with you that Cohen has rocks in his head: i have an entire category at my blog called “richard cohen is an idiot” that’s gone unused for years because I won’t read his drivel anymore.  and i’m certainly not defending his nonsense pseudo-psychology column.

    But your attacks on Cohen seem to hit the wrong marks: Obama DOES have close ties to Goldman Sachs; HAMP, designed to help banks stave off mortgage losses, has not worked; Obama’s interior is headed by ken Salazar, who has been very friendly to BP (I didn’t even mention that the president was “top recipient of BP-related donations during the 2008 cycle”); our robotic drones don’t care who they bomb; and if throwing people who look like people we don’t like into cages without access to a lawyer and then torturing them isn’t exactly nazism, it sure comes fucking close.

  2. rae
    June 22, 2010 at 10:24 am

    “Dumb is in”?!?  Doesn’t Cohen remember that we already tried the Forrest Gump as President thing?  That didn’t work out too well.

  3. June 22, 2010 at 10:04 am

    The only people who pay attention to Village pundits are other Village pundits.  WaPo is a dying shell.  So far no one wants Newsweek.  As for setting agendas, Politico seems to have eaten their lunch.  (I see a danger in that, but they seem to have replaced WaPo as the source that Congressional staffs and other political class folks pay attention to.)  It is only a matter of time until WaPo goes under.

    Meanwhile, McChrystal floats a balloon to see whether it is safe for Petraeus to become the American Caesar.  Or if the President will find his inner Harry Truman.

  4. June 22, 2010 at 9:43 am

    Finally, I have access to the site.

    Cohen isn’t a wanker, he’s impotent at this point because frankly who pays attention to him anymore.  I’d call him a WATB instead.

  5. June 22, 2010 at 9:41 am

    He’s the Wanker of the Year, actually:

    It’s been a while since we last checked in on the Washington Post op-ed stable’s elderly “left-center” know-nothing Richard Cohen, the Worst Writer in the World. After a profound month-long streak of weekly 800-word diarrhea baths earlier this year — climaxing with the legendary, “What if Dick Cheney is right?” — Cohen laid low for a while, talked about how nuts George Bush’s Iraq War was for a couple of weeks, safe stuff. NO MORE! Cohen has returned to form triumphantly (sadly) today with just… just a real lousy effort. Man alive. Take your bathroom break now, before clicking the clicky, because what you’re about to witness is… a Richard Cohen “concept” column!


    He’s looking to keep that title in 2010, seeing as he can’t win the Pulitzer Prize.

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