Last week, I criticized Washington Post columnist Jim Hoagland for suggesting, with no apparent basis, that Vice President Cheney has “lost his mind.” Now the New Republic’s Michelle Cottle makes the same claim.
I can’t improve on Charles Krauthammer’s take-down of Cottle’s frivolous attempt at psychiatry. Krauthammer, of course, was a distinguished pyschiatrist with expertise in the field Cottle has elected to dabble in — the relationship between physical and mental impairment. As Krauthammer puts it, “I know pseudoscientific rubbish when I see it,” and he has seen it in Cottle’s piece.
Hoagland was shrewed enough to slander Cheney by claiming that his “problems” are of recent vintage. While this left him short of specifics, it avoided the problem caused by the fact that the American people saw quite a bit of Cheney between 2000 and the end of 2004. Cottle, who is less clever, handles the trade-off differently, attempting to pull in incidents like Cheney dropping the f-bomb on Senator Leahy. She thereby makes a fool out of herself (as Krauthammer notes “the entire borough of Brooklyn [should be] quarantined”). She also puts herself in the position of having to explain how the “unstable” Cheney has managed to fool the American for so long. For example, how did Cheney, under the pressure of the vice presidential debate in a close election that seemed to be trending against the president, pull off his man-against-boy trouncing of John Edwards? How did he manage so calmly to “thank” boy-Edwards when the North Carolina huckster injected the sexuality of the VP’s daugther into the debate?
As Krauthammer concludes:
If there’s a diagnosis to be made here, it is this: yet another case of the one other syndrome I have been credited with identifying, a condition that addles the brain of otherwise normal journalists and can strike without warning — Bush Derangement Syndrome, Cheney Variant.
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