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“Does any of this matter, or is it merely interesting?” Richard Cohen of the Washington Post asked about his own column in today’s paper. Since Cohen wrote it, you already know the answer: It didn’t matter and it wasn’t interesting.
In recently describing the Post’s op-ed page as the worst in America, Gawker (which I actually like) listed Cohen as two of the top six reasons why. Cohen’s column today offered evidence that Gawker could have given him at least one more spot on its list.
In it, Cohen writes:
If Obama ends the deepest recession since the Great Depression, if he enacts health-care reform, if he succeeds in Afghanistan, then his presidency will have been remarkable, maybe even great — the triumph of intellect. The man will be his own movement. But if he fails in all or most of that, it will be because it is not enough to be the smartest person in the room. Warmth and commitment matter, too — a driving sense of conviction, the fulsome embrace of causes and not just issues.
Trite. Obvious. Empty. For Cohen, it’s all in a day’s work.
More from Ken Silverstein:
Perspective — October 23, 2013, 8:00 am
How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy
Postcard — October 16, 2013, 8:00 am
A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits
On a Friday evening in January, a thousand people at the annual California Native Plant Society conference in San Jose settled down to a banquet and a keynote speech delivered by an environmental historian named Jared Farmer. His chosen topic was the eucalyptus tree and its role in California’s ecology and history. The address did not go well. Eucalyptus is not a native plant but a Victorian import from Australia. In the eyes of those gathered at the San Jose DoubleTree, it qualified as “invasive,” “exotic,” “alien” — all dirty words to this crowd, who were therefore convinced that the tree was dangerously combustible, unfriendly to birds, and excessively greedy in competing for water with honest native species.
In his speech, Farmer dutifully highlighted these ugly attributes, but also quoted a few more positive remarks made by others over the years. This was a reckless move. A reference to the tree as “indigenously Californian” elicited an abusive roar, as did an observation that without the aromatic import, the state would be like a “home without its mother.” Thereafter, the mild-mannered speaker was continually interrupted by boos, groans, and exasperated gasps. Only when he mentioned the longhorn beetle, a species imported (illegally) from Australia during the 1990s with the specific aim of killing the eucalyptus, did he earn a resounding cheer.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A tourism company in Australia announced a service that will allow users to take the “world’s biggest selfies,” and a Texas man accidentally killed himself while trying to pose for a selfie with a handgun.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”