Columnist Cohen’s Ignorance

This was originally intended as a letter to the editor, but since it’s long and too little time has elapsed since my last letter to the local paper it’s ending up here. It will mean more if you have read Richard Cohen’s latest syndicated column.

In his recent column “GOP Feeds on Ignorance” Richard Cohen, once again, reveals his shortsightedness. He claims that the Republican Party has been “mute in the face of a belligerent anti-intellectualism, pretending that knowledge and experience don’t matter.” He blithely overlooks the fact that Republicans are the ones who pointed out early on that Barack Obama, as a candidate for the Presidency, was bereft of both knowledge and experience. Yes, he was a community organizer, but any claims to knowledge and experience beyond that are based upon questionable media assurances. We are told how brilliant Obama is, yet any attempts to verify his scholastic record are systematically thwarted by a cadre of lawyers. We are told that he is a constitutional scholar. The evidence for this is, I suppose, that he describes the constitution as a charter of “negative rights” to be unilaterally redefined or ignored. By that standard, John Dillinger was a banking scholar.

Cohen describes one fairly successful Republican primary candidate, Newt Gingrich, as “bratty.” Ironically, though, Gingrich embodies the intellectual traits that Cohen says Republicans eschew. He has been a bona fide college professor. He is a historian, an entrepreneur, and politician who has comprehensive experience with academia, business, and government. He is a creative, “out of the box” thinker. Some of his ideas are viewed as impractical, much as JFK’s goal to put men on the moon was in 1961. In JFK’s speech announcing the moon landing goal, he went on to say, “This gives promise of some day providing a means for even more exciting and ambitious exploration of space, perhaps beyond the Moon, perhaps to the very end of the solar system itself.” Yet when Gingrich proposes establishing a permanent outpost on the moon, he is ridiculed. For someone like Cohen, ideas like this are not nuanced enough.

According to Cohen, the two most important words in English are “It depends.” When asked a question about an important issue like abortion, pro-life conservatives are taken to task for declaring that they are always opposed to abortion. One is supposed to answer, “it depends.” Nowhere does Cohen allow that conservatives may be stating conclusions that they have derived from intense, sometimes painful contemplation of the subject. Perhaps he wants all Republican politicians to be thoughtful just as Barack Obama was when he concluded that racism was at play when Henry Louis Gates was arrested in Cambridge, MA.

Cohen’s charge that Republican’s are skeptical about Anthropogenic Global Warming, “not because they have studied the science, but because they are opposed to government regulations” is a stereotypical knee-jerk reaction. Many of us doubt AGW because we have read the science or have read the writings of reputable scientists who increasingly question its validity.

I guess to keep Cohen happy I should abandon my anti-intellectualism and stop reading the writings of the likes of Dr. Thomas Sowell, Dr. Walter Williams, Dr. George Will, Dr. Monica Crowley, Dr. Charles Krauthammer, Dr. Ann Coulter (J.D.), Dr. Ron Paul, Dr. Mitt Romney (J.D.) and, oh yes, Dr. Newt Gingrich.

Dwight Boud
© 2012

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One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Mary Boud on February 3, 2012 at 2:19 pm

    Excellent blog! You must come from a very intelligent family — at least your parents and brothers. ( < : ) ~ Your reference to Cohen's tendency to nuance, such as "It depends," is a great example of the latest philosophy sweeping the culture, namely, moral relativism. That's not to say that there aren't times when it is fitting to put an expression in a specific context. But when habitual, as you suggest with respect to Cohen, one gets the idea that he refuses to admit of any absolute truths — much less Absolute Truth. The thing is, moral relativists tend to fall into their own petards. For example, to state that "There is no such thing as 'absolute truth' is itself claiming to state an absolute truth." This may have nothing to do with your blog, but it's something to contemplate.

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