Richard Cohen I don’t get (pace JVL, who had a kind word for him last week). The Washington Post columnist seems to judge the credibility of accusations by how repellent they make Bush out to be. It didn’t matter that Bush never justified the war in Iraq by charging the Saddam Hussein played a role in the 9/11 attacks. For Cohen to pummel this strawman in column after column, it was apparently enough that this particular slander made Bush out to be a really unconscionable and over-the-top liar.
And now, in Cohen’s eyes, Ted Kennedy is a font of wisdom on the subject of President Bush. This is the same Ted Kennedy who recently said that U.S. soldiers were no better than Saddam’s torturers. And now Kennedy says that "arrogant ideological incompetence" explains, in Cohen’s words, "all that ails both Bush and his administration—everything from a misguided crusade to liberate Iraq (and the Middle East) from despotism to the strut of the president himself."
First off, the phrase is barely English. Ideology, incompetence, and arrogance are not the same thing as "arrogant ideological incompetence." Also, by Cohen’s own account, what the president suffers from is wishful thinking, especially in imagining that Iraqis would get all warm and fuzzy about being liberated. But wishful thinking is hardly an exclusive property of Bushies or neoconservatives or even incompetent people. Part three, Kennedy, last I checked, was a key adviser to the Kerry campaign, and it is as an unabashed Kerry partisan that he is delivering red meat to the hungry left-wingers who are demoralized since the Republican convention. How is that a smarter-than-thou columnist like Cohen lets himself be seen lapping it up?
But let’s get back to the non-warm-and-fuzzy Iraqis. Is it somehow only moral to help nice people? Only cotton-sweater, bank-commercial types should be liberated from the brutal fist of dictatorship? Which kind of people does Cohen believe deserve to be free? Only ones who say thank you?
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