Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Richard Cohen Can't Find Anything to Like About President Obama

Robert Kennedy paying homage to political leaders from New York
Richard Cohen has fallen apart many times before, but, this time, it's serious.

America's worst political pundit has decided to internalize everything and just run with whatever he can come up with in lieu of possessing insight. He discovered, roughly a year ago or so, that he doesn't like President Obama and so he slaps him
with racially tinged language and puts him in his place.
I once wondered if Obama could be another RFK. The president has great political skills and a dazzling smile. He and his wife are glamorous figures. He’s a black man, and that matters greatly. He remains a startling figure for a nation that was still segregating its schools when I was growing up — and killing the occasional person who protested. I went up to Harlem the night Obama won and heard Charlie Rangel wonder at the wonder of it all. The street outside was named for Rep. Adam Clayton Powell, an earlier black politician. His aides were not permitted to eat in the House cafeteria.
Within a paragraph, you see into Cohen's soul. When he writes that he wondered if Obama could be another RFK, well, I would say that Cohen was and is alone on that front. Unless Obama came from a wealthy family where the two sons older than Robert Kennedy were killed and where his father's wealth helped buy his way into politics, he might have a point. There's nothing to compare or link to there. Kennedy came from privilege; Obama came from anything but that.

Cohen seizes on the glamour of the Obamas--a sure sign that his village insider knife is about to be removed from the back of whoever betrayed him last. He, like a lot of people who exist inside of the Washington D.C. beltway, simply hate the Obamas for being young and beautiful and powerful and for ignoring what he says. But then Cohen doubles down and makes it about being black--a sure sign that we're ready for a trip through his own psyche. Not only are they young, powerful, black, and not only do they completely ignore people like Cohen, they've forgotten their history, too. What a sad way to work out some issues. What ingrates. Why, if they would only listen to what tired, pathetic hacks like Cohen have to say, everything would be fine.

The comparison to Robert Kennedy is hilarious stuff, by the way. That's RFK putting a move on some political bosses from New York. Here's what Norman Mailer had to say about it:
Bobby Kennedy, the archetype Bobby Kennedy, looked like a West Point cadet, or, better, one of those reconstructed Irishmen from Kirkland House one always used to have to face in the line in Harvard house football games. "Hello," you would say to the ones who looked like him as you lined up for the scrimmage after the kickoff, and his type would nod and look away, one rock glint of recognition your due for living across the hall from one another all through Freshman year, and then bang, as the ball was passed back, you’d get a bony king-hell knee in the crotch. He was the kind of man never to put on the gloves with if you wanted to do some social boxing, because after two minutes it would be a war, and ego-bastards last long in a war. 
Now, did Bobby Kennedy care about the poor? Yes. But he cared about screwing Lyndon Baines Johnson even more, and so this idealized, tear-streaked old hippie act from Richard Cohen is completely and utterly devoid of any sincerity. What a fraud.

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