You’re not fooling anybody, Richard Cohen

The world's worst columnist passive aggressively strikes again

Topics: Richard Cohen, Bill deBlasio, Chris Christie, Media Criticism, Sarah Palin, Chirlane McCray, , , ,

You're not fooling anybody, Richard CohenRichard Cohen (Credit: AP/Frank Franklin II)

Before we proceed to today in the continuing saga of “What in God’s Name Are You Talking About, Richard Cohen?” here’s a warning — get your gag reflex ready.

In a typically rambling screed about … something, Cohen, who recently became the first man to connect the dots between Miley Cyrus’ MTV Video Music Awards performance and what he likes to call “the so-called Steubenville rape” that happened one full year earlier, Cohen unleashes some choice nonsense thoughts on “Chris Christie’s Tea Party Problem.” In it, he ostensibly looks at the New Jersey’s governor’s political future and declares that “At the moment, it is Cruz, not Christie, who has seized the imagination of Iowa Republicans.” He also lets loose a truly outstanding array of bizarre assessments of prominent political figures, calling Sarah Palin “the Alaska quitter who, I think, actually now lives in Arizona,” Rick Santorum a man who’s “neither cuddly nor moderate” and Christie “too Joisey for the tea party — too brash, as well.”

But the true kicker of the piece comes near the end, when he swerves away from concern trolling Chris Christie to laughably state “Today’s GOP is not racist” — a declaration that the antics of party members would seem to contradict — and to consider what must be “troubling” the Tea Party right now. “People with conventional views must repress a gag reflex when considering the mayor-elect of New York,” he writes, “a white man married to a black woman and with two biracial children. (Should I mention that Bill de Blasio’s wife, Chirlane McCray, used to be a lesbian?) This family represents the cultural changes that have enveloped parts — but not all — of America. To cultural conservatives, this doesn’t look like their country at all.”



Cohen would likely argue he’s just calling it like he sees it – reporting on incredibly offensive ideologies but not engaging in them himself. And hey, you want to suggest that political extremists might have a problem with a high-profile mixed family? You might be right. Look how berserkers they went over that Cheerios commercial. 

But we all know this isn’t Jon Stewart on “The Daily Show,” brightly announcing that “I think New York City might be ready for a charismatic biracial family with their own signature, synchronized dance moves.” This is Richard Cohen — a guy who thinks that “conventional” people would have a vomit response to a mixed marriage – and who then parenthetically throws in a little gay panic to boot. Because in his mind, being a backward moron is “conventional.”

This is a man who, let us never forget, has written creepily of the “sexual meritocracy” of older men and declared Clarence Thomas “condemned of being a man.” This is Richard Cohen, the writer who applauded Switzerland for its leniency toward Roman Polanski, who admitted, “There is no doubt that Polanski did what he did, which is have sex with a 13-year-old after plying her with booze” and then proceeded to dismissively refer to that girl as a “victim” in scare quotes. (Note to Cohen: Just like with the Steubenville case, this behavior is called rape.) The same man who, fascinatingly enough, has reportedly been reprimanded for “inappropriate behavior” toward a much younger colleague. This is a man who in July explained that he could “understand why [George] Zimmerman was suspicious” of Trayvon Martin, because the young man was “wearing a uniform we all recognize” and who lamented, “Where is the politician who will own up to the painful complexity of the problem and acknowledge the widespread fear of crime committed by young black males?” A man who thinks maybe there’s something to this whole torture thing. One who hasn’t quite worked it out about homosexuals either, who’s decided that prejudice is bad but thinks “Gays don’t get some sort of pass just because they’re gay.”

You can almost understand how a guy like Cohen, who was spent his entire career amply demonstrating that he has a boatload of issues around women, sex and race, really hit the jackpot with Chirlane McCray. My God, look at her, all seemingly normal and living under the same room as a white man. Did I mention she used to be lesbian? Because she totally was. Surely, Cohen wants the world to understand, some people might have a problem with this. Not him, no, he’s just observing. Maybe asking for a friend.

It’s almost sad – almost – to watch a bigot try to cloak himself in the guise of concerned citizen. But rest assured, nobody with a track record like Cohen’s can use the phrase “gag reflex” without bringing plenty of his own bile to the party. And his transparently ugly shtick is fooling no one.

Mary Elizabeth Williams

Mary Elizabeth Williams is a staff writer for Salon and the author of "Gimme Shelter: My Three Years Searching for the American Dream." Follow her on Twitter: @embeedub.

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