What concerns me is the lie or fib or misstatement -- call it what you want -- involved in Obama's assertion that more young black men are in prison than in college. It is a shocking statistic -- and it is wrong. But when The Post's lonesome but formidable truth squad, Michael Dobbs, brought this to the attention of the Obama campaign, he not only got the brushoff but the assertion was later repeated.What did Michael Dobbs write?
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 106,000 African American men ages 18 to 24 were in federal or state prisons at the end of 2005. An additional 87,000 were temporarily held in local jails in mid-2006. According to 2005 census data, 530,000 African American men in this age group were in college.... Black male college students outnumber black male prisoners even if the age group is expanded to 30 or 35.I have a few problems with this. Namely, Obama's words are a sound bite, and it's not like he's operationally defined the words "young", "black men", or "jail". If a kid gets pulled over for DWB, spends a night in a cell, but charges are never laid, that doesn't show up in federal statistics.
But it's telling that this is the kind of factual error that would boil Cohen's blood. Because there's nothing -- absolutely nothing -- that makes Richard Cohen madder than anyone, elected or not, casting an even mildly critical eye on America. Point out the obvious and inhuman difference between the treatment of blacks and whites in America? You're a liar, and don't deserve the presidency.
It's also telling that the obvious, provable, and repeated falsehoods of the GOP candidates, or the other white Democratic candidates, don't pop a vein in Cohen's forehead. Nope, black men lie, and only Richard Cohen is brave enough to tell us all what he believes.
One last thing: there was another lie that was told once to the American people once before. It was told to the American people even though the speaker in question, one George W. Bush, had been repeatedly told that it was false by his own staff. Nevertheless, he lied to the country and started a war over a factually incorrect statement. Richard Cohen's reaction? To say, in columns that are no longer online at Washingtonpost.com, that Bush was "trapped" by the need to deal with the "obvious threat" that Hussein posed, and that Europeans who wanted to deal with Israel-Palestine first had a "whiff of anti-semitism" about them. (Cohen, "Bush the Bad Guy," January 28 2003)
And then, in July of 2003, when the lie was revealed by Joe Wilson's NYT column, Richard Cohen did the honorable thing and... blamed George Tenet and the CIA, just like the Bush administration wanted. (Cohen, "Sword Passing", July 24, 2003)
Amazing. Bush lies, gets a million Iraqis killed and tens of thousands of US soldiers wounded or killed, and Cohen can still be relied upon to put the blame elsewhere. But God forbid your grasp of obscure federal statistics be slightly off, because that means you need to bow and scrape before Richard Cohen, altar of responsibility.