Cohen was one of the neocon columnists who joined the Washington herd in the stampede for invading Iraq, and he disparaged Americans and U.S. allies who wouldn't follow behind. After Secretary of State Colin Powell's deceptive Iraq War speech to the United Nations on Feb. 5, 2003, Cohen ridiculed anyone who still dared doubt that Saddam Hussein possessed hidden WMD stockpiles.
"The evidence he [Powell] presented to the United Nations -- some of it circumstantial, some of it absolutely bone-chilling in its detail -- had to prove to anyone that Iraq not only hasn't accounted for its weapons of mass destruction but without a doubt still retains them," Cohen wrote. "Only a fool -- or possibly a Frenchman -- could conclude otherwise."
Though Cohen never apologized to us fools and Frenchmen -- those who didn't buy the Bush administration's lies -- he did finally recognize more than three years later that his certainty about the war had been misplaced.
On April 4, 2006, as the U.S. death toll reached into the thousands and the Iraqi death toll soared into the tens of thousands, Cohen wrote, "those of us who once advocated this war are humbled. It's not just that we grossly underestimated the enemy. We vastly overestimated the Bush administration."
In normal work settings, incompetence -- especially when it is chronic and has devastating consequences -- justifies dismissal or at least demotion, maybe a desk in Storage Room B where Cohen could sit with his red stapler, but certainly denied access to a word processor and the op-ed page of a major newspaper.
Yet, in the strange world of Washington punditry, success is measured not by getting the story straight but by keeping one's opinions within the parameters of the capital's "group think," even if those judgments are atrociously wrong.
Now, Richard Cohen weighs in with his sophomoric insights regarding his fears about black youth and his silly rationalizations for George Zimmerman who profiled and then killed Trayvon Martin with a gun shot through his heart. In conclusion, Cohen wrote:
"There's no doubt in my mind that Zimmerman profiled Martin and, braced by a gun, set off in quest of heroism. The result was a quintessentially American tragedy -- the death of a young man understandably suspected because he was black and tragically dead for the same reason."
"Understandably suspected?" No wonder some people consider Richard Cohen to be a racist.