Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Richard Cohen: Hackiness Unbound

I'm warning you: do not try to read Richard Cohen's latest column. Seriously! I tried last night and quickly became so dazed by the explosion of hacky phrases that I was completely unable to figure out what he was talking about. As of today, I believe he may be the worst writer on the planet.

Instead of parsing through the column, because that would be much too painful, I decided to take it in chunks and isolate the most irritating combination of words it contains. They are as follows:

  • "implied breathlessness"
  • "the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders"
  • "the bible of shrinks"
  • "a crack economist"
  • "easy street"
  • "the street of broken dreams, Pennsylvania Avenue" Seriously! He really wrote that!
  • "money is not everything"
  • "dirty little secret"
  • "the functional equivalent of Trappist monks"
  • "he has reversed Reagan's reversal"
  • "Washington crackles with people on a mission"
  • "Brains are once again back in vogue"
  • "aw-shucks affectation"
  • "scandal-soaked"
  • "we -- not they -- are richer for it"

I think that "street of broken dreams" line, all by itself, earns Cohen a place in the Bad Writers Hall of Fame.

Anyway, I think he's saying that people like Lawrence Summers deserve our admiration because they left their high-paying jobs in the private sector for government service. That's it! That's the entire point of the column. Try not to think about how much the Washington Post pays Cohen for these observations, because that can only end in tears.

So this week is pretty much a washout. Maybe next week we'll get another tantalizing glimpse of Cohen's youth and how it reminds him of some damn current event. Hey, Richard! We haven't heard anything about your high school years yet!


FranIAm said...

That photo made my day!

I think Cohen was using the hackneyed phrase handbook... and we are truly none the richer for it.

Oh that is a lie. This post makes us richer indeed.

J.D. Connor said...

While there is nothing, nothing at all, good about Cohen's writing, a double-blind study sponsored by the National Institutes of Prose (2008b) has determined that Jonah Goldberg is the worst writer on the planet. Sorry to disappoint.

Karen Zipdrive said...

If Cohen ever decides to write a novel, I do hope he enters in in the BulwerlLytton fiction contest.
"I think he'd be a shoo-in."