Friday, May 21, 2010


The Quintessential Tom Friedman

Let’s say you think the world needs a parody Tom Friedman column. Dutifully, then, you set out to create one. At a minimum you know you need to throw in the following elements:

• A display of a man-crush on Barack Obama,

• A gratuitous slap at George W. Bush,

• An example of just why the Chinese are awesome,

• A painful analogy or simplification to make it more comprehensible to the rest of us     and

• At least one reference to a past bit of Tom Friedman brilliance.

Or you could save yourself the trouble and just link to his May 18th column: Obama and the Oil Spill.

Let’s review:

• Man-crush on Barack Obama:

“To the contrary, Obama’s team has done a good job coordinating the cleanup so far. The president has been on top of it from the start.” [huh?]

• Gratuitous slap at George Bush:

“President Bush’s greatest failure was … his failure of imagination after 9/11 to mobilize the country to get behind a really big initiative for nation-building in America.” [actually this is just the start of his rant against the former President]

• The Chinese are awesome:

So today, gasoline costs twice as much at the pump, with most of that increase going to countries hostile to our values, while China is rapidly becoming the world’s leader in wind, solar, electric cars and high-speed rail.”

• Painful analogy or simplification to make it more comprehensible to the rest of us:

No, the gulf oil spill is not Obama’s Katrina. It’s his 9/11 — and it is disappointing to see him making the same mistake George W. Bush made with his 9/11.” [a two-fer]

• At least one reference to a past bit of Tom Friedman brilliance:

“I suggested a $1-a-gallon “Patriot Tax” on gasoline that could have simultaneously reduced our deficit, funded basic science research, diminished our dependence on oil imported from the very countries whose citizens carried out 9/11, strengthened the dollar, stimulated energy efficiency and renewable power and slowed climate change. It was the Texas oilman’s Nixon-to-China moment — and Bush blew it.” [another two-fer…or two-and-a-half -fer if you count the China mention]

Ahh, the “Patriot Tax”, he laments what might have been:

“Had we done that on the morning of 9/12 — when gasoline averaged $1.66 a gallon — the majority of Americans would have signed on.”

Umm okay, maybe…but the far-thinking Mr. Friedman didn’t suggest the “Patriot Tax” until October 5, 2003. And the initial impetus was to pay for the reconstruction of Iraq before we got around to using any excess funds on “other good works”.

As to all the good the tax would have done, well, all of Europe is a high fuel tax zone and places like Spain have spent billions on alternative energies. And today, as a result of all that feel-good kind of stuff, the EU imports over 70% of its fuel (it had been below 60% in 2000), the Euro is tanking and Spain has an unemployment rate of 20% to show for all its investments in the future of energy.

Mr. Friedman’s disappointment in the President is actually a point in the President’s favor.

UPDATE: Welcome Corner readers. Thanks to Jonah Goldberg!

The Tom Friedman solution = (Good+Evil)/2
For a fuller assessment of Friedman's persistent inanity, see this annotated collection of his nitwit insights:

P.S. Both Bush and Obama are idiots...
We addressed this same column - including Tommy Boy's lies about when he suggested his gas tax - at the Fire Tom Friedman blog a couple of days ago.
He has a job? Or are you talking bonfire here?
Great column but I wish a photo of Friedman's monster house could be posted whenever his name is referenced. It's the perfect visual for rank hypocrisy plus it makes me laugh.
You missed including a really bizarre metaphor that the longer you think about it, the less sense it makes.
Rand nailed it. I think a special category for Tom Friedman metaphors should exist. I propose, "Nixed Netaphor" - it has 'net in it and it's meaningless, which I think is appropriate.

BTW: I lived in Adelphi, MD from '97 to '04 (Now happily back home in Texas).
Thomas Friedman is the most overpuffed columnist in America. he is worse than Paul Krugman and Frank Rich combined. How bad is that Tommy?
Isn't the "man-crush" and the "painful analogy" a mighty fine example of cognitive dissonance?
You left out the obligatory "A few days ago over lunch in a lovely cafe in a small town in southwest Switzerland, the future Finance Minister of France told me that my analysis of my navel was 100% correct..."
Nicely done! I've added you to my blog list at The Conservative Wahoo.
Sorry--while I am a Wahoo (UVA), I live in Easton on the Eastern Shore.
Can't make any mention of Friedman without linking Matt Taibbi's hilarious reviews of his books:
Ironically, Tom Friedman is a frequent whipping among left bloggers for his obsequious support for the continuation of Mr. Bush's ill-fated Iraq War, so much so that liberals have denoted the unit of measurement known as the "Friedman Unit" - named for the "6 months more" that Friedman persistently requested over a period of nearly a decade for the Win to End the War to take place.

If you want to see some Tom Friedman bashing check this first sentence out: "This is a typical piece of Friedmanian [....]"

Hope all is well w you, MC! B
Many thanks for all the comments - I esp. appreciate the info aboutother Tom-Friedman-bashing sites. And yes, I did miss something of the metaphors and the Friedman tendency to describe in excrutiating detail where and with whom he is.
As Bruce alludes to, this is not right-left issue and I'm beginning to think that perhaps a general mockery of Friedman may be the bi-partisan matter that unites this great country of ours!
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