The Stupidest Thing You'll Read All Day...

... is Richard Cohen's Washington Post column. It's all froth, indignant and substance-free:

Sooner or later it is going to occur to Barack Obama that he is the president of the United States. As of yet, though, he does not act that way, appearing promiscuously on television and granting interviews like the presidential candidate he no longer is. The election has been held, but the campaign goes on and on. The candidate has yet to become commander in chief.

"Promiscuous!" I laughed aloud. God forbid the president talk to reporters. Cohen is in a huff because, as far as I can tell, after last week's news about Iran's nuclear enrichment capabilities, the secretary of state didn't make a statement and Obama did, instead of holding his "prestige" in reserve. (Surely, you're all familiar with America's vast strategic prestige reserves, located on a vast plain somewhere in North America?) I'm surmising that Cohen is actually angry because the president doesn't agree with him about this:

Only the United States has the capability to obliterate Tehran's underground facilities. Washington may have to act.

Leaving aside that it's not remotely clear that the U.S. has the capability to destroy Iran's nuclear program, let's all keep in mind that this Iranian crisis resulted in a Washington Times analysis that awarded Obama a "lift. ... Not only did the president look strong, he looked cunning."

Cohen is also angry that, among other slights, Obama is reconsidering the value of the Afghanistan conflict after the disastrous election there, which apparently did not affect whatever Cohen's views are, and that he did not deploy "consequences" against Congress for failing to meet his deadlines (should Obama have obliterated Max Baucus' underground facilities?). The real problem here isn't the Obama hasn't transitioned from candidate to president; it's that Cohen has no idea what the president does and how. The president can't pass a law and has free reign to reconsider U.S. political goals abroad -- one good rule of strategic advice is, don't take it from someone like Cohen who unironically name-checks MacNamara and Bundy.

Apparently, the announcement about Iran's new facility reminded Cohen of the Cuban missile crisis, which is certainly not the impression that I got (or perhaps the Cuban missile crisis wasn't as intense as I'd imagined). The real heart of this column seems to be that Cohen was frightened last week by the bad Iranians -- "These Persians lie like a rug"! -- and the president wasn't. Obama just handled his business, and moved forward, leaving the histrionics to Cohen.

-- Tim Fernholz

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