Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Wanker of the Day: Richard Cohen

One of the more creative pieces on the ill-fated "Chappelle's Show" was his racial draft sketch, in which various ethnic groups got to choose members from among the famous. Which got me thinking... we should be able to get something for Senator Joe Lieberman and columnist Richard Cohen. I might be persuaded to take Lincoln Chafee, though think we might be better off with the money we would get if they sent us an Xbox 360 and we sold it on eBay.

You remember Richard Cohen, right? He's the WaPo columnist who covered himself in, well, not glory, exactly, when he wrote and argued on a few talking head pundithons that the Valerie Plame outing was just DC biz-as-usual.

Well , the Joe Lieberman of liberal columnists is at it again.

Today he takes on the film "Syriana" in Hollywood's Crude Cliches.

Just as the Republicans who admit being Republicans demonized Michael Moore and F-9/11 as a proxy for all anti-war activists, faux liberal Cohen finds a Hollywood movie simplistic and tars us all with that brush:

You will not be surprised to learn that the locus for all this "oil, terrorism, money and power" is the United States, which is up to no good. With the exception of the Clooney character, everyone is corrupt, including, of course, the CIA. The agency not only sets up one of its own, Clooney, but it assassinates a perfectly nice Middle Eastern potentate to ensure that his oil remains in friendly hands. This sort of thing is distinctly against the law, a true career-ender at the CIA and elsewhere, but never mind. A movie does not have to stick to the facts.

Still, if it is going to say anything, then it ought to say something smart and timely. But, the cynicism of "Syriana" is out of time and place, a homage to John le Carre, who himself is dated. To read George Packer's "The Assassin's Gate" is to be reminded that the Iraq war is not the product of oil avarice, or CIA evil, but of a surfeit of altruism, a naive compulsion to do good. That entire collection of neo- and retro-conservatives -- George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and particularly Paul Wolfowitz -- made war not for oil or for empire but to end the horror of Saddam Hussein and, yes, reorder the Middle East.

They were inept. They were duplicitous. They were awesomely incompetent, and, in the case of Bush, they were monumentally ignorant and incurious, but they did not give a damn for oil or empire. This is why so many liberals, myself included, originally supported the war. It engaged us emotionally. It seemed . . . well, right -- a just cause.
I have seen the equal of this kind of self-delusion in the blogosphere -- Assrocket's immortal neuro-onanistic eruption comes to mind. But I don't recall ever seeing anything this mind-bogglingly stupid in a mainstream outlet.

You need look no further than the neocon's own pre-war advocacy to see how utterly absurd Cohen's bare assertion is. But there is lots more evidence, if Cohen could get over himself and only look at it. Dick Cheney's Halliburton reaped billions from the Iraq debacle. Dubya's oil-patch kids are raking in record profits. CIA operations were burned, torture was committed, lies were told, documents were forged, the Constitution was trampled, tens of thousands of lives were ruined. But the flaw in the neo-con formula? A "surfeit of altruism."

I guess we should consider ourselves lucky that Cohen is so clueless that his writing so clearly shows the etiology of his delusion. Cohen supported the war because it "engaged" him "emotionally." That certainly explains his willful blindness to reason and evidence, and his willingness to carry fetid water for those who hypnotized him with shiny metal objects. Admitting that the Administration is less than saintly would require calling into question his own gullibility and cheerleading -- his willingness to embrace a hugely risky and deeply flawed strategy, just because it made his sclerotic heart beat faster. And like his masters, he will continue to double down his sycophantic absurdity rather than admit his own error.

Or is that just another crude cliche?


Blogger Eric Soderstrom said...

I think an important fact that is being missed on this topic is that the President does not decide when we go to War. The administration sold congress on the notion that we were under threat of an attack by Iraq, or by terrorists supported by Iraq, and that he possessed weapons of mass destruction. Even if you honestly believe the administration's motivation was altruism, that's irrelevant. The President can't send in the troops - only congress can - and congress would never have authorized the use of military force just to bring Democracy to Iraq and ease the suffering of the Iraqi people under Saddam.

12:55 AM  
Blogger Eric Soderstrom said...

Oh yeah - and I used to think and say that this was all about oil. That was before I realized just how much money is being made by the U.S. Corporations providing "services" in Iraq. It's money taken out of our pockets and and our children's pockets and providing us with no benefit.

12:58 AM  

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