Tuesday, March 13, 2012

It's a movie, you twit!

At some point while reading Richard Cohen's latest piece at the Washington Post, it occurred to me that his kind of self-satisfied smugness with his own perceived superiority--when he is anything but superior--is exactly the kind of thing that is ruining journalism. Well okay, that's not true. The idea occurred to me long before reading his latest swill, but this bit is just such a great example, I couldn't help myself.

The piece is entitled "Sarah Palin's foolishness ruined American politics," and Cohen is dead serious about that. The basis of his argument in this regard is the HBO movie Game Change (based on the book of the same name by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin). Seriously. Cohen is arguing his point based on what happened in the movie. He acknowledges the disagreement from the actual principals portrayed in the movie with the content of the movie, but maintains the truth of what is in the movie, nonetheless.

I can't help but think of Dan Rather, insisting that he "stands by the story," even though the documents he based the story on were fabricated. But I digress. Here we have a long-time opinion writer for the Washington Post actually authoring a piece about current realities in U.S. politics based on what he saw in a movie. Could he possibly be any more pathetic? It's no wonder that Salon named him the Number One Hack in 2010. Their take on Cohen:
The Washington Post’s Richard Cohen has been a columnist since 1976. He’s good friends with Ben Bradlee and Sally Quinn. He works one day a week. At a certain point, in that exceptionally privileged and cushy position, his brain disintegrated. He’s not so much an old liberal who grew conservative as he is a simplistic old hack who believes his common prejudices to be politically incorrect truths and his Beltway conventional wisdom to be bracing political insight.
I think Salon is being a little too kind. Of course, that was from almost a year and a half ago and even after such a negative review, Cohen has continued to hold on to his job. Given that fact, it's tough to dismiss Cohen as some sort of aberration in punditry land. Enough people must think his brand of silliness is actually good writing, sound analysis, and worth an actual paycheck. That's setting the bar pretty low.

Getting back to the actual content of the piece, Cohen is making the case (again, via details he saw in a movie) that Palin's rise to prominence lowered the bar for American politicians, that because of her and her alone:
Experience, knowledge, accomplishment — these no longer may matter.
Get that? Prior to Palin--according to Cohen--success in national politics was based on these things: experience, knowledge, and accomplishment. Politicians had to possess them in some degree in order to succeed.

Now, what's really interesting here is that Cohen--hardly a big fan of the current President--completely fails to recognize that Obama became President without these same three things. He had no real experience, he's proven to have no knowledge when it comes to things like the economy, and he hadn't really accomplished much of anything, prior to his run for the Presidency. And of course, he was on the national stage before Palin.

I guess the problem for Cohen is that no one has made a movie that critical of Obama yet, so he has nothing to use as a basis for a comparison.

Cheers, all.

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