I had picked up on some of the ridicule that was being dumped on him that afternoon for his having penned - either wittingly or dimwittedly - "The Myth of American Exceptionalism, an effort on his part to trash America for its being what most of us are ever so proud that it is - exceptional. In attempting to do so, Cohen (who apparently operates without the guidance of an editor or nanny) makes the following claim:
The huge role of religion in American politics is nothing new but always a matter for concern nonetheless. In the years preceding the Civil War, both sides of the slavery issue claimed the endorsement of God. The 1856 Republican convention concluded with a song that ended like this: “We’ve truth on our side/ We’ve God for our guide.” Within five years, Americans were slaughtering one another on the battlefield.That's right. The failure of the anti-slavery crowd to even countenance compromise when it came to the heinous establishment of slavery led to the War Between the States. Whereas compromise might have kept "the peculiar institution" around - in a compromised state? - even to the present day? The Civil War was therefore a bad thing?
Therein lies the danger of American exceptionalism. It discourages compromise, for what God has made exceptional, man must not alter.
Is this man mad?
Well, yes, that would be my guess.
Others have similar notions:
"So Richard Cohen decided to tackle “[t]he myth of American exceptionalism” and well… it goes about as well as you would think it would. It’s a tour de force of either mind-numbing stupidity or just plain dishonesty."
Warner Todd Huston:
"Richard Cohen is what passes for an opinion editorialist in the Washington Post -- not a learned one, just a bloviating one. Cohen's latest, "The Myth of American Exceptionalism," is at the same time as self-loathing as it is historically stupid. Not only does this nonsense Cohen ladled out upon us all serve an example that you don't have to actually know anything to be in our modern Old Media establishment, but it is evidence that the profession of editor is long dead.
"Cohen seems to know precisely nothing about history. Further he has no perspective on the history of the rest of the world and does not see the essential greatness that has always guided America to the greater freedom and liberty that has made it the light unto the world."
"Does Cohen really want to maintain that the Republicans of the 1850s should have been more willing to compromise on slavery? Is this what liberalism has come to?"
"The concept of natural rights has its roots in religion, but American exceptionalism is the rejection of rule by divine right, not its embrace. And the pro-slavery religious argument was its opposite.
"Opposition to slavery was one of the most ideal of the manifestations of these principles, and the worthy didn’t believe they could be compromised with a system that resembled Old World serfdom. Until now, few questioned those motivations, let alone the principles of abolition. That Cohen could write this drivel — and that the Washington Post would not ask Cohen to rethink it — perhaps indicates just how far we have drifted from the economic and public-policy principles that made us exceptional in the first place."
Can Richard Cohen really be that stupid?
Having studied the man's columns for years, I can confidently say WITHOUT DOUBT.