Richard Cohen, Conventional Wisdom Machine

1 comment June 24th, 2008at 07:32am Posted by Eli

Ya gotta love Broderella’s Padawan apprentice, Richard Cohen – his ability to uncritically regurgitate conventional wisdom/Republican talking points is truly impressive:

In some recent magazine articles, I and certain of my colleagues have been accused of being soft on McCain, forgiving him his flips, his flops and his mostly conservative ideology. I do not plead guilty to this charge, because, over the years, the man’s imperfections have not escaped my keen eye. But, for the record, let’s recapitulate: McCain has either reversed himself or significantly amended his positions on immigration, tax cuts for the wealthy, campaign spending (as it applies to use of his wife’s corporate airplane) and, most recently, offshore drilling. In the more distant past, he has denounced then embraced certain ministers of medieval views and changed his mind about the Confederate flag, which flies by state sanction in South Carolina only, I suspect, to provide Republican candidates with a chance to choose tradition over common decency. There, I’ve said it all.

But here is the difference between McCain and Obama — and Obama had better pay attention. McCain is a known commodity. It’s not just that he’s been around a long time and staked out positions antithetical to those of his Republican base. It’s also — and more important — that we know his bottom line. As his North Vietnamese captors found out, there is only so far he will go, and then his pride or his sense of honor takes over. This — not just his candor and nonstop verbosity on the Straight Talk Express — is what commends him to so many journalists.

Obama might have a similar bottom line, core principles for which, in some sense, he is willing to die. If so, we don’t know what they are. Nothing so far in his life approaches McCain’s decision to refuse repatriation as a POW so as to deny his jailors a propaganda coup. In fact, there is scant evidence the Illinois senator takes positions that challenge his base or otherwise threaten him politically. That’s why his reversal on campaign financing and his transparently false justification of it matter more than similar acts by McCain.

Wow.  So Cohen lists a whole bunch of McCain’s flip-flops that show him to be completely devoid of honor or principles, and then proceeds to rave about McCain’s honor and principles and how we know that there are some lines he will not cross.  I suppose that may be true – for instance, he would probably not feed his wife and daughters to hungry sharks to pick up sympathy votes – but the lines that he has been willing to cross, like war, torture, habeas corpus, warrantless wiretapping, depriving servicemen of education and leave time, are all bad enough that they should disqualify him from the presidency.

As for Cohen’s statement about Obama not taking positions that challenge his base… has he been paying any attention at all?  Did he not notice Obama coming out in favor of the FISA compromise that his base absolutely despises?  I can go along with the “or otherwise threaten him politically” part, but I would add the word “knowingly” in there somewhere.  I think his cave-in on FISA does hurt him politically with his base – it’s sucked a lot of enthusiasm out of all but his most die-hard supporters – but I don’t think that was part of his calculation.  So it may have pissed off his base, but it sure as hell was not an act of political courage – quite the opposite, in fact.

Still, as shameless and spineless a triangulator as Obama may be, McCain has repeatedly shown himself to be far, far worse and far, far more dangerous.  And Cohen is a dishonest ass for pretending otherwise.

(h/t bmaz)

Entry Filed under: Elections,McCain,Media,Politics,Wankers

1 Comment

  • 1. bdr  |  June 24th, 2008 at 10:05 am

    I’m about to riff on this too, but Cohen’s key argument is that because Obama hasn’t had the good grace to be tortured by the Viet Cong, anything John McCain says is blessedly forgivable.

    Cohen, for all his posturing as secure in his status, is deeply afraid of a reshuffling of the DC cocktail party scene if Obama is elected.

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