Cohen plunges into his 40-year-old memories about how awful it was when the National Guard shot and killed 4 college students who were protesting the Vietnam War. And naturally, in Cohen's bike-drained, folk-music befuddled brain, that leads to what's wrong with... Glenn Beck!
Why don't you see? Back in 1970, the Governor of Ohio said the protesters were "worse than the Brownshirts and the communist element. . . . We will use whatever force necessary to drive them out of Kent." Cohen weaves his literary magic for us dogged old WaPo readers:
That was the language of that time. And now it is the language of our time. It is the language of Glenn Beck, who fetishizes about liberals...... fetishizes about liberals... To "fetishize" is to make a fetish of. How do you make a fetish of about something? Cohen's rugged bike path is studded with incomprehensible prepositions.
... and calls Barack Obama a racist. It is the language of rage...What language? You didn't even quote anything from Beck. Maybe you created a Pandora channel for Beck and you listen and ideate furiously while cycling, but I don't know what you're talking about. I don't pay much attention to the pudgy chattering TV pundit, but he doesn't seem to be raging. I have seen him crying. And oddly, in Cohen's first paragraph, he portrays himself struggling (while biking) to "repress a tear" when Neil sings "Ohio." Oh, compassion! It either builds credibility or it doesn't. (Depending on whether you're liberal or conservative.)
... that fuels too much of the Tea Party...I'm supposed to have the right image of the Tea Party so I can just swallow that assertion whole. But I've been to Tea Party rallies — and heard about them from my husband — and the people seemed pretty nice and normal. To me, Cohen's attempt to smear ordinary people is what's ugly.
Cohen rants some more about how awful everything on the right sounds to his folk-music plugged old ears. He concludes:
I hear the song more clearly now than I ever did. It is a distant sound from our not-so-distant past, but a clear warning about our future. Four dead in Ohio. Not just a song. A lesson.Pedal on, aging columnist. Let the stream of consciousness wash down. Flow river flow. Wherever that river goes, that's where Richard Cohen wants to be.
*That's WaPo columnist Richard Cohen, or as we call him around here: the never-slept-with-Althouse Richard Cohen.
ADDED: Michael C. Moynihan:
And no, Richard Cohen doesn’t catch the irony: The dissent of Kent State protesters, he thinks, was met with deadly force because of rhetoric that “otherized them,” that turned them into a domestic enemy. Pretty much exactly what Richard Cohen is doing to the dissidents of the Tea Party movement.