Thursday, January 19, 2006

Fish in a Barrel

This is the first in a new series titled “Fish in a Barrel”, whereby I find some easily refuted columnist and easily refute them.  The point isn’t that these things necessarily need to be refuted.  The point is how much fun it is to do so.  This is to be contrasted with actually shooting fish in a barrel, which really doesn’t sound like very much fun at all; especially if you have to clean up afterwards.  Then again, I’m thinking about making Washington Post’s Richard Cohen the regular target of this series, but I think I need some sort of stupid pun for the series title, and “Shooting Cohen in a Barrel” might easily be misconstrued (though not the worst of ideas).  So if any of you can come up with some Cohen pun (the stupider, the better), I’ll thank you in some intimate and perhaps embarrassing way.

Needless to say, our first target is the easily refuted joke of a columnist, Richard Cohen.  I picked his most recent column (I started writing this last Thursday, but it got delayed) as I just wanted a random sample and didn’t want to look like I had selected his dumbest column.  This one is titled Loose Lips Sink…, and it was about Joe Biden talking too much during the Alito hearings, and how his “loose lips” are undermining his presidential aspirations; a fact that Cohen laments, as he strongly favors Biden (a knock against Biden if I’ve ever heard one).  

Reading this, I thought “Boring!”  That column would just write itself and even a dope like Cohen couldn’t screw it up.  But then I realized that I was talking about Richard Cohen, a man who couldn’t even comprehend the most basic of facts at the beginning of Fahrenheit 9/11, and admitted to stop taking notes after the first five minutes.  I mean, it’s bad enough that he felt like taking notes, but that he couldn’t even get passed the beginning…  And worst of all, he brags about it, like that was some knock against the movie.  And his basic point was entirely and utterly wrong, as evidenced by his own newspaper.  If anyone could screw-up a slam-dunk Biden column, it’d be Cohen.

The Fish

And sure enough, the dope didn’t disappoint.  It was a whiffer for awhile, until he came upon the reasons he likes Biden:

In his maturity, he has emerged, along with some appropriate gray hair, as one of his party's most important -- and knowledgeable -- voices on foreign policy. Even on Iraq, an area where too many Democrats forgot that there was any reason for war, Biden took a decidedly centrist -- and defensible -- position. He voted to authorize the president to go to war but has since characterized that vote as "a mistake."

Right.  Joe Biden is one of the most important and knowledgeable voices on foreign policy, the evidence of which is that he now admits that his position on the biggest foreign policy issue of the day was a mistake.  In fact, Cohen writes of Biden “if he were allotted a do-over, he’d vote no.”  And this is supposed to be the one of the most knowledgeable people?  This is a reason to vote for him, why he deserves to be president?   Because he now wants a “do-over”?  Of course.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking Biden.  I’ve always liked him whenever he’s on The Daily Show, and really don’t know much about him otherwise.  But Cohen’s insistence that Biden’s Iraq mistake is somehow a good qualification for the presidency is a bit a puzzling.  Or it would be, if we didn’t already know where this was going, which is to justify Cohen’s own Iraq mistake.  Cohen blew it big on Iraq and is still somehow holding tight to that mistake.  He’s like a toddler who happily walks around showing everyone the brand new dooky he just made.  But Cohen’s not a toddler and this ain’t dooky.  And the toddler would eventually learn why dooky’s not cool, whereas Cohen keeps shoving our noses in his shit every day.  He admits that he made a mistake, but just thinks that it was the right mistake to make.

And for the benefit of those sitting in the cheap seats, Cohen provides us with the context that some may have missed by writing: “Since this approximately reflects my own position, I am inclined to appreciate its wisdom.”  Wisdom.  I know a few different ways of thinking about wisdom, but this isn’t one of them.  What wisdom is he speaking of?  The wisdom of making a mistake and then publicly regretting it?  That’s not wisdom.  The wisdom was to have learned what a dope you were for making the mistake, and then by being wiser to not repeat it.  That’s wisdom.  Wisdom is admitting that the people you disagreed with were correct and that you’re now more willing to listen to them in the future.  That’s wisdom.  And for god’s sake, wisdom is to finally stop the fucking attacks on the people who turned out to be correct.  That’s wisdom.

But that’s not what he’s talking about.  What this really is about is Cohen continuing to hold onto his mistake.  He was wrong about Iraq.  Completely wrong.  And he’s still trying to attack those who opposed it.  Because he’s not saying that he should have opposed the war.  He’s saying that it was best to support the war, and then to regret it afterwards.  That’s what he’s defending.  But he’s still not willing to acknowledge that the Michael Moore’s and Howard Dean’s were right.  To him, they got it right, but for the wrong reasons.  As if they just lucked into it, and had no logical basis for their opposition to the war.  And a stubborn fool like Cohen would much rather be wrong, for the right reasons.  And what makes him a true fool is that all the “right reasons” were so obviously wrong.  We were lucky that Iraq hasn’t turned out far worse than it has, but to Cohen, Bush barely missed the mark.  

And his whole position is that we were supposed to trust Bush.  That’s what it was about.  That there were good reasons to attack Iraq and that we were supposed to trust Bush to do it right, and allow him to screw it up.  And after Bush screwed it all up and it became too obvious to deny that it was screwed up ONLY THEN were we allowed to suggest that it was a bad idea.  ONLY THEN are we allowed to say we’d have done it differently.  But the whole point of this isn’t that you’d actually do it differently, as you wouldn’t.  The whole point is to say that you’d do it differently in hindsight, though you’d have done it the same way.  And anything less than that is far-leftie extremist conspiracy-mongering Bush-hatred.

That’s the Richard Cohen position on Iraq.  That’s the way of “wisdom”.  That’s what he likes about Joe Biden.  Not that he was right, and not that he’s wise; but that he did it right, by giving George Bush enough rope to hang this country and then to make sure we all know that they don’t approve of what Bush did with the rope they gave him.  And for god’s sake, don’t forget to keep attacking the people who were right about it.  Sure, they were right.  But they were right for all the wrong reasons, while Biden and Cohen were wrong for all the right reasons; even if those reasons were wrong.  And that’s what it’s all about.

Anyway, that’s all for now.  I’m still not at my posting best right now, for reasons I’ll be giving shortly.  And remember, if anyone out there can come up with a good name for my Cohen blasting posts, I’ll make it a regular feature and will be sure to shower you with glory beyond your wildest dreams.  Or maybe I’ll just steal it and claim it as my own.

P.S. Would “Shooting Dick in a Barrel” be wrong?

2 comments:

plshark said...

How 'bout the CohenHead Report?

Yeah, well, you said "stupider"...

Anonymous said...

Answer to the P.S.: of course not!

The conventional elitist view of Joe Biden is that he's an idiot blowhard. Past that, he's happy to be a centrist straddler, willing to use his strong rhetoric on more progressive and/or useful people in an attempt to initiate circular firing squads. In short, he sucks.

-Tim M.