Saturday, April 14, 2007

Richard Cohen: multi-media, still clueless

Oh. My. God.

Richard Cohen, Washington Post's resident useful idiot (useful, that is, to the cocktail weenie-distribution cartel), has a new piece about the latest Paul Wolfowitz scandalette. But you won't find it on the WaPo website. It is published -- really and truly -- at the Huffington Post. That's right -- a blog.

He spanks Wolfowitz around for the girlfriend thing a bit, but bemoans the fact that this scandal seems to be hurting Wolfowitz more than his complicity in the epochal tragedy of Iraq did.

Now, we must pause to say that this scandal tells you quite a bit about Washington. In the first place, anywhere else in the world, the "girlfriend" would be some ditz -- a non-typing, non-filing, non-working pretty thing who owed her job to a nifty arrangement of body parts. Not in Washington, though. Ms. Riza is a highly-educated (London School of Economics, Oxford University) person who is fluent in French, Italian, Arabic, Turkish and English and can probably, when plied with enough wine, wax rhapsodic on the appalling agricultural policies of the Bangladeshi government. This is invariably the sort of woman who I sat next to at every dinner party I attended in Washington and to whom you do not dare say, should the moment or the wine seize you, "Your eyes are like deep pools of love."


As for Wolfowitz himself, you must take pity on the man. He confused war with love and thought if he could do what he wanted with the former he could do what he wanted with the latter. Now, he has learned his lesson.

And may I also point out that this paragon of polite discourse, this annoying old scold, drops the f-bomb in his bloggy debut? Cover your ears, children.

Recall that after Stephen Colbert made Richard a wee bit uncomfortable at the White House Correspondents dinner last year, Poor Richard voiced his pique, the blogosphere explained what a moron Cohen was, and Cohen was struck by the vapours:

Kapow! Within a day, I got more than 2,000 e-mails. A day later, I got 1,000 more. By the fourth day, the number had reached 3,499 ...

Truth to tell, I peeked into only a few of the e-mails. ... Usually, the subject line said it all. Some were friendly and agreed that Colbert had not been funny. Most, though, were in what we shall call disagreement. Fine. I said the man wasn't funny and not funny has a bullying quality to it; others (including some of my friends) said he was funny. But because I held such a view, my attentive critics were convinced I had a political agenda. I was -- as was most of the press, I found out -- George W. Bush's lap dog. If this is the case, Bush had better check his lap.

It seemed that most of my correspondents had been egged on to write me by various blogs. In response, they smartly assembled into a digital lynch mob and went roaring after me.

But Cohen's late recruitment into the digital lynch mob is merely an appetizer. The main course here is the third person voice Cohen uses when talking about the tragedy in Iraq. At least Cohen didn't bury the lede; his first paragraph is a triple-distillation of his own malfeasance:

As Paul Wolfowitz is proving, it turns out all is not fair in love and war. Only war. Take a nation to war for spurious reasons and no one much complains. But arrange a raise for your girlfriend, and you get booed in the atrium of the World Bank and have to visibly sweat in public.
No one complained? No one, indeed, Richard -- least of all you. You, who had prominent soapbox, you who might have had some effect, had you a brain in your head. But you were one of Wolfowitz's enablers, Richard. As with so many other major issues, you enabled and cheered insanity, ignored reality, and happily headed off to the next cocktail party with your co-conspirators. A few highlights from poor Richard's almanac:

As Greg Mitchell recently reminded us, Cohen was the guy who wrote, in February 2003:"Iraq not only hasn't accounted for its weapons of mass destruction but without a doubt still retains them. Only a fool -- or possibly a Frenchman -- could conclude otherwise." He is the man who wrote that "the Iraq war is not the product of oil avarice, or CIA evil, but of a surfeit of altruism." And that "so many liberals, myself included, originally supported the war (because it) engaged us emotionally." He is the man who gave us such bon mots as "Corruption of any kind corrupts" and who advised a high school student, "You will never need to know algebra." He is the oracle who informed us last October that "The best thing Patrick Fitzgerald could do for his country is get out of Washington, return to Chicago and prosecute some real criminals."

Immoral and illegals wars, and conspiracies to burn CIA agents as political retribution? No complaints from you. But mistresses and dinner parties? Those you tear into with gusto, even as you pooh-pooh the endeavor.

If you were capable of seeing the irony there, perhaps you might have understood why Colbert was so dead-on last year.

There are many loathsome men afforded great deference in the press. Some of them work at the same newspaper as you do. But I don't think any of them are so elegantly self-refuting as you are.


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