April 29, 2004

The Scourge of Richard Cohen, Vol. CIII

(Ed. -- The following is a bit of mean spiritedness that will be an on-going feature of this blog. Normally the author will endeavor to be reasonably fair, but this is an exception.)

I don’t think Richard Cohen should have drank all that Kool-Aid this morning…

Psycho: The name's John F(rancis) Kerry, but everybody calls me Psycho. Any of you guys call me F(rancis), and I'll kill you.
Bush: Ooooooh.
Psycho: You just made the list, buddy. Also, I don't like no one touching my stuff, or medals, ribbons, whatever. So just keep your meathooks off. If I catch any of you guys in my stuff, medals, ribbons, whatever, I'll kill you. And I don't like nobody touching me. Any of you neocons touch me, and I'll kill you.
Richard Cohen: Lighten up, F(rancis).

John Kerry has a "batman."

To go along with stately Wayne Manor and Teresa’s five other mansions. I wonder if Teresa also has a Robin in tight tights?

This is a British military term for what amounts to a servant, someone to take care of an officer's personal needs.

I wonder how many batmen Bill Clinton has?

In Kerry's case it's Marvin Nicholson Jr., …

“I’m Batman.”

… who keeps the Massachusetts senator in peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and bottled water.

Adam Ward, Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, George Clooney, Christopher Bale, and now Marvin Nicholson, Jr. Batman sure ain’t what he used to be. But it does explain F(rancis)’s hair.

This, though, is the wrong man for the wrong task. What Kerry really needs is someone to slip him gags.

F(rancis) doing standup. Yea, that’ll work.

He may be the presumptive nominee, but he is an objective pill.

How exactly are presumptive nominee and objective pill in opposition to justify Dick’s big but?

Take the apparently endless flap about Kerry's Vietnam War record and his antiwar activism afterward.

That’s ok, you can keep it, Dick.

Did he really deserve all three Purple Hearts?

Don’t know. Don’t care. Just wish F(rancis)’d shut up about it.

Did he really throw back his medals, or was it ribbons?

Tu quoque? It doesn’t really matter whether F(rancis) threw his medals, ribbons, whatever. It does matter that he can’t seem to tell the same story from week to week about it, and that trying to get to the bottom of his inconsistency amounts to questioning his patriotism. It also matters that the patriotism of many F(rancis) ran with then can be questioned and that F(rancis) can't quite seem to come to terms with it either.

The questions themselves border on the ridiculous, ...

And a fellow in F(rancis)’ position cannot be made to look ridiculous. Just ask Mr. Wolper.

... especially when they are posed -- in a six-degrees-of-separation sort of way -- by a presidential ticket of George Bush and Dick Cheney, ...

Well, technically, that would be by President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. Say it a few times to yourself, Dick.

... the former a no-show during some of his National Guard tour, ...

I think the pyschological term your looking for here Dick is projection.

... the latter an anticommunist hawk ...

He says this like it's a bad thing.

who, wisely, delegated the fighting to others -- the mark of a budding CEO.

Damn capitalists.

The situation was ready-made for humor, for an arid dismissal.

To anyone with half a brain, but were talkin’ ‘bout F(rancis).

Kerry was the hero -- Silver Star, Bronze Star, three Purple Hearts -- and the president had nothing to show for the Vietnam years except some nights he would like to forget.

And learning to pilot a fighter. Oh, and don’t forget learning how to put on a flight suit. You just never know when that might come in handy!

His formulation about those days was always, "When I was young and irresponsible, I was young and irresponsible," which is not exactly the citation that comes with a medal.

True, no medals are generally awarded for common sense and a clear perspective on one's past.

The senator has the better of the argument. He should get a fourth Purple Heart for being fragged by the GOP.

Hmm, where to start?

1. What argument? F(rancis) served his time in Vietnam admirably by almost all accounts and received several medals. Good. F(rancis) should be proud of his service, and I don’t particularly care whether any of his purple hearts came from a hangnail or not. But F(rancis) should also be humble about his service, at least out of respect for those who didn’t come back. Many men endured much, much worse and proved themselves as leaders in substantially more difficult situations than F(rancis) faced. Geroge W. Bush has readily acknowledged the mistakes of his youth. F(rancis) is too proud or too stupid (or both) to acknowledge his.

2. Fragging is done by your own troops, not by your opponents.

3. Who exactly is supposed to award F(rancis) his fourth purple heart? If F(rancis) can’t stand the heat he needs to get out of the kitchen. If F(rancis) can be so easily intimidated by what so many his friends regard derisively as an uneducated baboon, tell me again why I might want to vote for him to stand up to America's enemies?

4. Charlie Gibson, card carrying member of the GOP since …, um …, never mind.

But instead of dismissing Bush and Cheney with a lighthearted putdown of the sort that would prompt Bush to seek therapy, Kerry got angry.

“Bush=Hitler” didn’t send George over the edge, but a witty bon mot just might!

He waxed indignant.

F(rancis): Whacks on. Whacks off.

He said, in the manner of Rumpelstiltskin stomping the ground, "I'm not going to stand for it!"


In doing so, he mimicked Bob Dole, who lost it entirely during the 1988 New Hampshire primary when he scowled at George H.W. Bush and snarled, "Stop lying about my record." For Dole, this was not good television.

Must sleep TV.

As any angry person can tell you, expressing rage shows a loss of control.

Well, they can tell you after they’ve calmed, of course.

It both seems and feels juvenile.

Sort of like Michael Jackson.

It borders on the tantrum, which is not presidential, and it is pretty close to downright un-American, since we in this country do not express our emotions, except on daytime television.

Or when stomping on the ground like Rumpelstiltskin.

Much more important, anger makes a television viewer uncomfortable, and I don't think this is how a presidential candidate wants us to feel. This is why politicians have aides: to express -- anonymously, of course -- their anger.

F(rancis)’ aides, apparently.

This is what the aforementioned Mr. Nicholson should be doing.

Beats keeping F(rancis) in peanut butter and jelly and bottled water.

Stop! Do not e-mail me, dear reader, on how I should not be constructively criticizing Kerry ("bashing," it is called nowadays) but instead should be saving the nation and the world from another four years of Bush and Cheney.

Rest easy, Dick.

That latter, though, is truly my intention.

We’re doomed! Doomed! DOOMED! Bush wins with 52.5% of the popular vote this November. And it is only the popular vote that matters, right?

I am told that this is the presidential preseason, a period when only the cognoscenti and the mentally unhinged are paying attention to presidential politics, with everyone else waiting until after the World Series.

Richard Cohen is therefore cognoscenti or mentally unhinged. Hmmm…

It is now, therefore, while no one much is looking, that I can critique Kerry in an effort to make him a totally unbeatable candidate.

Like, totally.

He needs to lighten up.

Yes, F(rancis) is not nearly white enough.

I say that with a total lack of levity.


My candidate is a dour man.

Man, is he a dour candidate.

At least that's the way he seems on TV. Sometimes he seems angry, which is not good, but most of the time he just seems gloomy. It does not help that he has a face that hardly needs to be enlarged for Mount Rushmore, but what really matters is that he seems as if he is no fun.

And did Dick mention that he is dour?

No one would call Kerry, as FDR did Al Smith, "the happy warrior" or discern some impishness in him.

(W)impishness, perhaps.

Bush has that quality and so, of course, did Bill Clinton. About the only recent presidents who were decidedly un-impish were Jimmy Carter, who came to Washington to take the fun out of politics, …

I knew Jimmy Carter came to Washington for something other than leading America. Thanks for clearing that up, Dick

… and the first George Bush, whose joke is only now becoming apparent.

A parent? Nah, Dick’s not that clever.

Both got the gate after just one term.

One was accused of having the worst economy in the last 50 years, the other one actually did.

The attacks on Kerry's war record are contemptible, and the criticism for his own criticism of the war itself shows that the Bush-Cheneys of this world have, as was said of the Bourbons, learned nothing and forgotten nothing.

Yea, but Bush is trying to start another Children’s Crusade, or something.

But the way to handle such attacks is with ridicule, with nonchalance, with a confidence that the American people know a low blow when they see one.

In other words, a Richard Cohen column.

Smile, John -- you're always on candid camera.

How “F(rancis)” and “candid” made it into the same sentence is something the Washington Post’s ombudsman needs to look into post haste. If this happens again, F(rancis) might lose his reputation for nuance. And then where would his attempts at humor be?

Posted by Charles Austin at April 29, 2004 09:37 PM

That was great. I always enjoy those.

Posted by: David at 10:23 AM

I have to admit, I was looking forward to this when I saw Dicky's column in the WaPo the other day (no, I didn't read the whole thing then. It's hard to read an entire Dick Cohen op-ed without getting violently ill unless one has the sort of assistance you provide).

Good job.

Posted by: Tom at 01:19 PM