Cohen refuses the Kool-Aid

The sight of Republicans trying to justify the choice of Palin left him somewhere between “sputtering with rage” and “helpless with laughter.”

Richard Cohen makes up for some of the lies he has told about Barack Obama by telling some of the truth about Sarah Palin. He’s halfway between spluttering with rage and helpless with laughter. Yes, he even mention’s Caligula’s horse. And I think it’s fair to say that “Commander in Chief of the Alaska National Guard” was not a successful rhetorical figure.

Some of the good bits:

* Sarah Palin, a sitcom of a vice presidential choice and a disaster movie if she moves up to the presidency

John McCain’s selection of Palin, which I first viewed with horror, could now be seen in a different light … it is possible that this is McCain’s attempt to make fools of his fellow Republicans. He has succeeded beyond all expectations.

* [McCain] said that he had “watched her record . . . for many, many years” which is, a prudent man might say, more years than she’s had a record.

* McCain, as a fellow military man, did not mention Palin’s tenure as the supreme commander of the entire Alaska National Guard, maybe because he thought it speaks for itself. If that’s the case, he’s right.

* Probably the most depressing thing about Palin is not her selection but the defense of it. It has produced a parade of GOP spokesmen intent on spiking the needle on a polygraph.

* Looking right into the camera, they offer statement after statement that they hope the voters will swallow but that history will forget.

* The sum effect on the diligent news consumer is a feeling of consummate contempt for the intelligence of the American people &#8212 a contempt that will be justified should Palin be the factor that makes McCain a winner in November.

I think the technical term for what McCain just did is “jumping the shark.” He has made the willing suspension of disbelief on which politics &#8212 as much as drama &#8212 depends impossible for much of his intended audience. Yes, some of the rubes love it. But those, like Cohen, who don’t want to be taken for rubes and resent being treated as rubes really, really hate it.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com