The personal and political chronicle of the witty, eloquent liberal scourge who never let left or right get in his way.
The late journalist Cockburn (Guillotined: Being a Summary Broadside Against the Corruption of the English Language, 2012, etc.), who died in 2012, was a rare bird in the opinion business: unpredictable yet consistent in his approach to power. Whether writing for the Nation, Village Voice or the newsletter CounterPunch (which he co-founded), he was always the proud son of a family where Marxism was the dominant faith, authority was the enemy, and revolt was the answer. He found Barack Obama “slithery” as a candidate and hopeless as president. He held Rupert Murdoch and the New York Times in equal contempt and regarded Christopher Hitchens as a publicity hound. He was no respecter of party platforms, hating in more or less equal measures the Iraq War, vegetarianism, gun control, abortion, the whole idea of global warming and any police officer who gave him a ticket. He didn’t mind taking sides when he had to and happily helped destroy the re-election campaign of South Dakota Republican Sen. Larry Pressler. (“I am responsible for the Democratic majority in the Senate,” he later crowed. “Take that, you work-within-the-system types!”) He found common ground with anyone who fights the power, including Julian Assange, Ron Paul, and the tea party and Occupy movements. Cockburn loved America but thought it fascist; the killing of Osama bin Laden was an act of “brute, lawless, lethal force.” He could get sentimental about the death of old friends but kept mum about his own approaching demise. Instead, he went out in typical style, railing against the military-industrial complex.
A fine trip through a rambunctious, productive, provocative and well-lived life.