From Edwards and Palin to Obama and Brown

Sometimes you read a column that seems so clearly right, so obvious, that it stuns you to think no one's ever said it quite like that before. That's the mark of a brilliant column, and Richard Cohen has one in today's Washington Post.

Cohen writes about the perils of celebrity and politics, the dangers in the meteoric ascendancy of unknown, untested political candidates, the reality that "we have substituted the camera -- fame, celebrity -- for both achievement and the studied judgment of colleagues."

Everyone likes to bash John McCain for tapping Sarah Palin—as Cohen did—but, he asks, how was that selection all that different from John Kerry's decision to pick John Edwards? The man was mostly smile, Cohen writes. And now we see that smile is about as rotten as the jack-o' lantern I left out on my front porch too long this year.

Time matters, Cohen writes. And Edwards is less a scandal than a lesson.

"The out-of-nowhere rise of Palin and Edwards in less than a decade is warning enough that something is wrong. I will also throw Barack Obama into the mix, not because I know something nefarious about him but because I realize more and more that I know so little about him."

Read it all here.

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    Jan Crawford is CBS News Chief Political and Legal Correspondent. She is from "Crossroads," Alabama.