Ethics Quote Of The Day: Washington Post Columnist Richard Cohen

'Oh, all right, here's what I really think, since I'm already ticked off...'

‘Oh, all right, here’s what I really think, since we’re way past the 2012 election and I’m already ticked off...’

 “The Russians managed to do what they wanted to do in Syria. Why not the United States? The answer has always been clear to me. Obama did not care enough. Not from him ever came a thundering demand that Russia and Iran get out and stay out. Behind the arguably persuasive reasons to do little in Syria was an emotional coldness. This was not Obama’s fight. Kellyanne Conway keeps pointing out that Hillary Clinton had no message. True. Neither for that matter did Obama. He waved a droopy flag. He did not want to make America great again. It was great enough for him already. The banner he flew was one of American diminishment. One could agree, one could not be proud . . . Since the end of world War II, American leadership has been essential to maintain world peace. Whether we liked it or not, we were the world’s policeman. There was no other cop on the beat. Now that leadership is gone. So, increasingly, will be peace.”

Richard Cohen, reliably liberal Washington Post op-ed columnist of long-standing, in his latest titled, “Thanks to no-drama Obama, American leadership is gone.

Good for Cohen. Like George Will on the conservative side, Cohen will occasionally break through his biases to pronounce hard truth. Except to pacifists and isolationists, Obama’s foreign policy has made the world a far more dangerous place, and created a power vacuum that is being filled by Russia, Iran, China and terrorist organizations. Weak, feckless and inept, the President’s foreign misadventures and evasions have been substantially shielded from accountability by public apathy, media alibis, and Hillary Clinton’s bind, which prevented her from articulating her own criticisms of our current foreign weakness  for fear that it would lose her the support of the blind Obama cheering section.

It is pretty clear that the timing of Cohen’s outburst was prompted by his own anger and feelings of betrayal at Obama’s abandonment of Israel in the recent vote to condemn settlements on the West Bank; Cohen is a staunch supporter of Israel. Another vocal liberal, Allan Dershowitz, based his assessment of Obama’s foreign policy entirely on the recent U.N. vote, saying on Fox News this morning,

“[History will see President Obama] as one of the worst foreign policy presidents ever…He called me into the Oval Office before the inauguration; he said he wanted my support, and he told me he would always have Israel’s back. I didn’t realize what he meant: That he would have Israel’s back so he could stab them in the back….What he did was so nasty, he pulled a bait and switch. He told the American public this is all about the settlements deep in the West Bank. And yet, he allowed he representative to the U.N. to abstain –which is really a vote for– a resolution that says the Jews can’t pray at the Western Wall, Jews can’t live in the Jewish Quarter [of Jerusalem] where they have lived for thousands of years. And he’s going to say, ‘Whoops! I didn’t mean that!’ Well read the resolution! You’re a lawyer, you went to Harvard Law School….This will make peace much more difficult to achieve because the Palestinians will now say ‘we can get a state through the UN’.”

Of course, if journalists, pundits and prominent public figures hadn’t been so committed to avoiding and suppressing any criticism of Obama’s bumbling Presidency and foreign policy for the past eight years, we might not have come to this point.

And yes, as with so much else, “this point” includes Donald Trump.

5 Comments

Filed under Around the World, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Quotes, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Leadership

5 responses to “Ethics Quote Of The Day: Washington Post Columnist Richard Cohen

  1. Wayne

    Well at least two seem to have woken up. I think Trump will reverse some of the damage done by Obama to American Policy re: Israel eventually. Hopefully some of these liberals will quit hating on Trump reflexably.

  2. Other Bill

    “The Russians managed to do what they wanted to do in Syria. Why not the United States?”

    I assumed this was the beginning of a piece explaining to the deplorables that the Russians had “hacked” the election. Hah.

    I’m stunned Richard Cohen was critical of Obama at all, never mind so bluntly and forcefully. Nice to see.

  3. brian

    My initial reaction to you giving Cohen an ethics quote of the day was disgust, but I did a little more research and I now think it’s supportable. My main issue was his timing in delivering this harsh, although blindingly obvious, assessment of Obama’s foreign policy. I would have much preferred you pick something by Walter Russel Mead as he has been an early, outspoken, and consistent liberal critic of this administration leadership failure in foreign policy. Cohen’s comment struck me as convenient reputation rehabilitation, but when I went back through is op-eds I found this gem from 2013:

    ‘Obama’s policy regarding Syria has been a strategic failure. More perplexing and more alarming, it has also been a moral failure. It has permitted — or at least not impeded — the deaths of upward of 70,000 people and created a humanitarian calamity with well over 1 million refugees. The region is being destabilized. People are living in misery. I can assure them that Washington is studying the problem.

    Obama must have known that sooner or later he would have to act on Syria. His plan, if it can be called one, is to let events force his hand. He’s issued red lines and virtual ultimatums, so sooner or later he’ll have to do something. He gives the appearance of prudence, but looks can be deceiving. It’s actually an abject failure of leadership. ‘

    http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2013/04/30/red_lines_as_red_herrings_118170.html

    Seems like Cohen managed to maintain his credibility as well, and I was being unfair.

    • I can’t make Mead an Ethics Hero for consistency. He’s an articulate and coherent conservative, but I can pretty much predict his position on almost anything. I’m always fighting readers who mark me as a stealth Republican, so I use as few quotes and links to heroes of the Right as possible, because it will make many readers discount the post entirely. Nobody accuses me of being a stealth progressive, so using a quote from one is safer. I’m looking for pundits who are able to admit when they are wrong, that their favorite policy-makers are wrong, and that the other side is right, for once.

      There’s a lot to dislike about Cohen—for one thing, he’s an unapologetic sexist. But he tries to be fair and objective.

  4. E2 (nee Elizabeth I)

    “Of course, if journalists, pundits and prominent public figures hadn’t been so committed to avoiding and suppressing any criticism of Obama’s bumbling Presidency and foreign policy for the past eight years, we might not have come to this point.”

    And now… when the liberals who clouded the truth, hid the facts, and kept their private analyses to themselves ‘come out’… they become ethics heroes? I think not: the left-leaning, Obama-protecting news and political analysis machine are ethics dunces. Period. And worse than that. Suppressing ideas and facts is totalitarian, or a form of agit-prop if you will. Not heroes. Not ever. They are Ideological despots. One after-the-fact, bias-driven editorial does not undo what has been done over the past eight years (and more).

    Glad to have seen Cohen’s article. But frankly, it just makes me angrier than ever.

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