Like many professionals of a certain age, Richard Cohen goes to a lot of funerals. Very, very, very soon, he will attend his own, and everyone will be able to laugh in his face about how stupid he was. But for now, he must write Washington Post op-eds letting us know that he goes to, like, the most important memorial services ever. Case in point: He went to Richard Holbrooke’s last week! What a hott ticket, right? Whom did he have to blow to go to that? Everyone? Yes. So Richard Cohen had to get an article out of this, right? But what to say? How about, “Barack Obama hates Richard Holbrooke so much that he gave a better speech in Tucson”? Sure, that works.
This is a tale of two speeches. The first was the glorious oration Barack Obama delivered last Wednesday at a memorial service for the victims of the Tucson shootings. Obama did not merely rise to the occasion, he vaulted over high expectations, offering words that were balm to the ear – thoughtful, wise, moving. He was a president as father to his nation, comforting his people in their dizzying grief.
Two days later, the president spoke at yet another memorial service, this one for Richard C. Holbrooke, the celebrated diplomat who had died, unexpectedly and shockingly, just last month. This speech was flat, neither eloquent nor moving, nor the least bit personal. It was phoned in by a man who sat patiently on the stage as others praised a beloved figure, a leviathan of ideas and policies and vexing idiosyncrasies whom the president didn’t much care about. It was a dutifully flat performance.
Assuming this dumbfuck interpretation is true for a moment, is Cohen saying Obama should have put more effort into a speech at a gathering of elites (that wasn’t even the actual funeral) to remember an official of relatively minor prominence than a speech addressing the nation and a shocked region following a shooting rampage? Yes, yes he is.
Richard Cohen is a leviathan of people who use the word “leviathan” very poorly and is vexed by others’ idiosyncrasies because he has never had any himself. He has only one channel: dumb old hack. [WP]