Richard Cohen: "I understand nothing"

The longtime Washington Post columnist begs his superiors to stop paying him to write about current events

Published June 3, 2011 4:01PM (EDT)

Richard Cohen          (Sigrid Estrada/Washington Post)
Richard Cohen (Sigrid Estrada/Washington Post)

Poor Richard Cohen has been writing an opinion column at the Washington Post for almost 200 years, and while he has never been particularly knowledgeable or interesting, he used to at least have a basic grasp of what was going on, in the world. Not anymore! Cohen attempts to write about the current Anthony Weiner unpleasantness at the Post's "PostPartisan" blog, and it is just... sad.

Cohen says he now lives in a strange and bewildering place called "Xanadu" where he no longer understands anything. Like, what is Twitter, and why do people "follow" members of Congress on it?

I have seen this Weiner. He is a homely fellow, certainly not handsome and not what you would call a hunk. Yet this college student all the way on the other side of America follows him on Twitter? Why? What does it mean to follow someone on Twitter? Xanaduns (Xanadunians?) apparently do it, but I don’t know why.

Richard Cohen wants to know why young women would be interested in stupid, ugly congressmen like Anthony Weiner, and also what is this "Twitter" and what does it mean to "follow" on it? He could maybe try to learn what these terms mean, before writing about them, for money, but who has that kind of time?

Cohen is also confused by the New York Post, because they called Weiner a "creep," for maybe sending an underwear photo to a woman he is not married to, yet: "this is the same newspaper that instantly hired as a sex columnist the harlot who promoted Eliot Spitzer from governor to TV host." They cast judgment on creeps whilst employing harlots! This truly is a confusing land! (It's almost like having Richard Cohen write columns about a man in a position of authority acting inappropriately with young women, right?)

But this is perhaps the truest paragraph Richard Cohen has written in many years:

I don’t remember moving here, a country where I have never been before and where I know nobody. I don’t even know why I think I am in Xanadu, except that the name just came to me. It seems to make sense, which is more than I can say for anything else. I used to understand everything. I was even paid to explain things. Now I understand nothing. I live in a strange place and understand just a piece of what’s going on. At the moment, I am hungry and going across the plaza to that cute outdoor café. I think I’ll have a Kardashian.

Washington Post editors: Richard Cohen is begging you to retire him. Please, show mercy.

By Alex Pareene

Alex Pareene writes about politics for Salon and is the author of "The Rude Guide to Mitt." Email him at and follow him on Twitter @pareene

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