Richard Cohen Activates Our Gag Reflex

Maybe you've heard of Richard Cohen. Probably not, but he's made a bit of a name for himself as a Washington Post columnist, espousing deliberately controversial drivel when he has no substantive ideas to contribute to a debate. I'm sure my editors would like me to learn a thing or two from Cohen: his items are pure click-bait. And though I'm loath to link to another one of his pieces, his latest gem — on why Chris Christie doesn't have a snowball's chance in hell at getting the Republican nomination — went out of its way to show that Richard Cohen is even more out of touch with America than the Tea Party is.

Let's quote the most insipid graf for you, so you don't have to click through:

Today’s GOP is not racist, as Harry Belafonte alleged about the tea party, but it is deeply troubled — about the expansion of government, about immigration, about secularism, about the mainstreaming of what used to be the avant-garde. People with conventional views must repress a gag reflex when considering the mayor-elect of New York — 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.

That's right: an interracial first family of New York City makes people with "conventional views" gag. Richard Cohen lives in a pre-Loving v. Virginia America. And he doesn't even understand how to properly race-bait: racists weren't really worried about white men sleeping with black women! They were worried about keeping their daughters away from black men. And then, a quick aside into Chirlane McCray's lesbian past — but even those with "conventional views" wrapped their heads around Dick Cheney's daughter ten years ago, to say nothing of their support of all of Newt Gingrich's monogamish marriages. It's a miracle he didn't bring up the fact that Chirlane is older than Bill, because, oh, look how modern that is!

No, the traditional Tea Party surely has problems with the de Blasio-McCray clan, but race is at the bottom of that totem pole.

But the guy had already been in trouble for sticking his nose into someone else's sex life: in 1998, an editorial aide accused him of sexual harassment, saying that he engaged her in inappropriate discussions on casual sex and made other comments that made her uncomfortable. (The Post said that he engaged in "inappropriate behavior" that didn't quite rise to the level of sexual harassment.) Do Chirlane McCray's former lesbian relationships bother him because he doesn't see a place for himself in them? We're left wondering.

Or, maybe, it's just that she's black. After all, Cohen has written repeatedly about justifiable prejudice against black people. Most recently, he defended George Zimmerman. Yes, yes, — all the caveats were there: "I don’t like what George Zimmerman did, and I hate that Trayvon Martin is dead." But at the core, Cohen supported what is, basically, a "black panic" defense. For him, a black teenager in a hoodie is automatically a suspect; the burden is on the teen to prove that he is not a threat. Because that is Richard Cohen's America.

As we've covered, the Tea Party is out of step with America. But compared to Richard Cohen, they're just Blue Dog Democrats. I'm just left wondering why someone is paying him to spew this uninteresting nonsense. After all, he's perfectly entitled to say it, but there's plenty of room to do it without pay on Tumblr.

For the record, here's the de Blasio-McCray clan. Whatever your political views are, they're pretty darn cute.

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