When I write–as I did here–that one just doesn't find many "liberals" on op-ed pages who behave as their conservative counterparts do, I was thinking not only of E.J.Dionne, who does basic reporting (polls show. . . ) not arguing (people ought. . . ), I was also thinking of intellectual giants like Richard Cohen. Last time we saw him, he was grousing about tattoos. Now he's got a crush on McCain. He admires that McCain branded maverickness that takes the opposite of everything (mostly). In yet another example of the premise which begins with a personal anecdote, Cohen writes:
"Just tell me one thing Barack Obama has done that you admire," I asked a prominent Democrat. He paused and then said that he admired Obama's speech to the Democratic convention in 2004. I agreed. It was a hell of a speech, but it was just a speech.
A prominent Democrat ought to be named in the first place, if his or her view is representative.
On the other hand, I continued, I could cite four or five actions — not speeches — that John McCain has taken that elicit my admiration, even my awe. First, of course, is his decision as a Vietnam prisoner of war to refuse freedom out of concern that he would be exploited for propaganda purposes. To paraphrase what Kipling said about Gunga Din, John McCain is a better man than most.
But I would not stop there. I would include campaign finance reform, which infuriated so many in his own party; opposition to earmarks, which won him no friends; his politically imprudent opposition to the Medicare prescription drug bill (Medicare has about $35 trillion in unfunded obligations); and, last but not least, his very early call for additional troops in Iraq. His was a lonely position — virtually suicidal for an all-but-certain presidential candidate and no help when his campaign nearly expired last summer. In all these cases, McCain stuck to his guns.
So Cohen asks some unnamed person what he or she admires about Obama, then by way of comparison, he asks himself what he admires about McCain. Why didn't he ask that same Democrat what he admires about McCain? Or why didn't he ask himself what he admires about Obama–who knows what his response might have been.