Look, I should probably stop reading Richard Cohen. But I happened to bring a copy of the Post with me to lunch today, and I just can't figure out for the life of me why he's still writing. Today's column, is among other things, about how health care is too boring for him to bother figuring it out:
In truth, I did not seek an exclusive interview with the president of the United States not only because I wanted to write something that would be noticed but also -- actually mainly -- because I feared that if I did get an exclusive interview I would be expected to ask him something about health-care reform, about which I know next to nothing. What was worse, despite reading six newspapers a day, watching cable news shows, network news shows, the "NewsHour" and being online all the livelong day, I could not fathom what the president wants to do with health care. I suppose this is all my fault since, I learn from reading my e-mails, almost everything is.
How could it possibly be Cohen's own fault that he's too lazy to be informed about issues he's writing about? That's absurd! I would bring out my tiny violin, but I just smashed it across the table after reading that last paragraph. I'm always astounded by "journalists" (including opinion columnists) who complain that their job is too boring for them to do--if that's the case, find a new job. There are plenty of hardworking journalists out of work right now who would be perfectly willing to do yours if you aren't.
Indeed, most Americans agree with Cohen that health care is hard to follow. But they also think it's important, and they're looking to people like him to help explain it. Cohen, however, has better things to do, like catch reruns of daytime TV (just wait).
This last sentence however, takes the cake and tosses it into moving traffic:
I checked my records and diaries and discovered that I had been offered many opportunities to exclusively interview the president, but only after he had been exclusively interviewed by all the other columnists and bloggers and, of course, the anchors of all the networks, including cable -- basic as well as premium. A review of the record showed that the president usually said nothing or nearly so, and indeed things have gotten to the point that when I see Obama on TV, I hurry on to another channel, even one with a Maury Povich rerun. I recently came across Anderson Cooper, who was interviewing Obama in Africa or some such place, and after noticing how they were both so trim, I quickly channel-surfed my way to Animal Planet. I knew I had not missed anything important.
"Or some such place." I can't quite figure out what he meant by that, but my eyeball is twitching.
The first black president of the United States visiting the Western Coast of Africa, where most of the slaves black Americans are descended from were kidnapped and thrust into servitude? How could that possibly be interesting?
Maybe the Animal Planet channel has an opening, or maybe Cohen could intern for Maury. Maybe then the WaPo op-ed page could find a columnist who happens to actually be interested in writing about public affairs other than to complain about how boring they are.
-- A. Serwer