WHAT IS RICHARD COHEN TALKING ABOUT?…. The reader knows from the first 12 words that Richard Cohen has written another very weak column: “Blogger Alert: I have written a column in defense of Dick Cheney.”
Except, the column isn’t even a defense of Cheney, so much as it’s an argument that Cheney might (or might not) be right about the efficacy of torture.
Torture is a moral abomination, and President Obama is right to restate American opposition to it. But where I reserve a soupcon of doubt is over the question of whether “enhanced interrogation techniques” actually work. […]
If Cheney is right, then let the debate begin: What to do about enhanced interrogation methods? Should they be banned across the board, always and forever? Can we talk about what is and not just what ought to be?
In candor, I read it a few times, hoping to see some kind of elusive creative thought. There wasn’t one. Cohen hates torture, but thinks it might work. He doesn’t trust Cheney, but thinks Cheney might be telling the truth. He supports Obama’s decision to drop U.S. torture policies, but thinks those policies might have merit. What’s the point of this? I have no idea.
I’m especially fond of the notion that now, May 12, 2009, thanks to Richard Cohen’s breakthrough column, we can finally “let the debate begin” over whether the United States should torture detainees — as if we haven’t already been through this debate, over and over again, for several years now.
Indeed, I was tempted to start writing about all of the ways Cohen is confused about torture — morally, legally, strategically — but quickly realized there’s no point. We’ve been through this. The debate Cohen thinks should “begin” has been rehashed ad nauseum.
I will, however, say that Adam Serwer raises a good point, noting that Cohen seems to have forgotten a similar column he wrote two weeks ago, which came to a different conclusion. What’s more, publius notes that Cohen doesn’t even have the courage to come right out and take a firm stand on the wrong side of the issue: “It would be one thing for him to openly defend torture. Say what you like about the tenets of Yoo/Cheney torture, Dude, but at least it’s an ethos. Cohen, however, uses the even more pathetic dodge of — hey, what if Cheney’s right? I’m not saying he is. Cheney kind of sucks. But the man asked a question, didn’t he?”
As for Cohen starting his column, “Blogger Alert,” he seems to expect criticism, but the problem is that Cohen doesn’t understand why. He thinks the left will be outraged that he’s “defending” Cheney. This misses the point. If Cohen wants to defend Cheney, fine, he should make the case. But this column doesn’t even do that.
It’s just a waste of a column.