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During the Dog Days of the Cold War, the Soviet Union used to send “Youth Delegations” to international diplomatic events composed almost entirely of doddering 60-year-old-plus hacks. That’s pretty much what the Washington Post editorial page looks like nowadays, though in fairness to the Soviets, they were a far more lively, interesting bunch.
It’s hard to say which of the Post’s writers produces the greatest quantity of drivel, but Richard Cohen is a strong contender for the crown. Cohen, of course, has been awful for years, but today’s column, “President Obama’s enigmatic intellectualism,” marks a breakthrough in terms of pure idiocy. Cohen writes:
What these people were seeking was not an eruption of anger, not a tantrum and not a full-scale denunciation of an oil company. What they wanted instead was a sign that this catastrophe meant something to Obama, that it was not merely another problem that had crossed his desk — and this time just wouldn’t budge. He showed not the slightest sign in the idiom that really counts in a media age — body language — that he gave a damn.
So the president should be judged not on the basis of his policies, but on “body language.” And who better to interpret this than Richard Cohen.
Based on Obama’s body language, Cohen concludes that Obama’s foreign policy “has no heart at all” (which is true, but that’s no different than foreign policy under past presidents), and that Obama is emotionally shut down because his “father deserted the family and afterward visited his son only once.” Oh, and Cohen also has determined that Obama has no “pudding.”
I’m not a big fan of Obama’s but this is almost as embarrassing as the column that cost Sally Quinn her job.
Does the biggest threat to quality media come from bloggers in pajamas? The far bigger menace is posed by op-ed writers in Depends®.
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
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
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 naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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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.”