NYT columnist Tom Friedman had an off-the-record lunch with President Biden a week ago today. (Sounds like bad staff work to me.) Friedman damned Biden with faint praise by comparing his ability to pull together international support to GHWB’s. But Friedman came away from lunch fearful that we’re a Friedman Unit away from the abyss because of divisions at home:
Biden didn’t say it in so many words, but he didn’t have to. I could hear it between the lines: He’s worried that while he has reunited the West, he may not be able to reunite America.
It’s a legit fear. But then Friedman says this:
But with every passing day, every mass shooting, every racist dog whistle, every defund-the-police initiative, every nation-sundering Supreme Court ruling, every speaker run off a campus, every bogus claim of election fraud, I wonder if he can bring us back together. I wonder if it’s too late.
Emphasis mine to highlight the stupidity of the both-sides framing. On one side we have the Republican Party, which has morphed into an authoritarian cult whose powerful elected officials openly reject democracy, suppress votes, ban books, persecute vulnerable citizens, censor and/or punish protected speech, etc.
On the other, a party whose leaders explicitly rejected a poorly worded slogan that failed to gain traction beyond a handful of activists and backbenchers two years ago, and speaker controversies on college campuses. Friedman and other unfortunately influential elites are still equating these things, and that’s a big problem!
To defeat Trumpism we need only, say, 10 percent of Republicans to abandon their party and join with a center-left Biden, which is what he was elected to be and still is at heart. But we may not be able to get even 1 percent of Republicans to shift if far-left Democrats are seen as defining the party’s future.
Emphasis mine because that’s where Friedman tells on himself, with that passive language. Whose job is it to inform Americans about their society and government, to let them know what forces are driving and responding to events? A category that includes Friedman.
CPAC is in Hungary this year. Republicans are celebrating the demise of Hungarian democracy with the autocrat who smothered it, Viktor Orbán, and he, their guest of honor, told Republicans how to finish smothering democracy here in the U.S.
But on the other hand, 1) Ilhan Omar, and 2) some Yale students were rude to a Federalist Society speaker.
If the republic is saved, it will be in spite of people like Friedman, who, unfortunately, get invited to the White House for lunch.
At times like this I think Friedman and his ilk should be fired off into the Sun. As a note of caution, however, Most solar models that I am aware of don’t include stupid, so research should be done to see if the Sun can handle that extra stupid before we undertake this necessary task.
“Journalists” of the ilk being buried a Friedman unit deep? Yeah, it’d be a start. See also immediately earlier pitch(bot).
Agree. Very poor choice in who to invite to lunch, which is surely apparent because Freidman’s “off the record” isn’t very off the record. And it’s worse than that because the only thing Friedman is presenting is his opinion, which is not worth very much.
Nuke-mutated cockroach historians of the future sure will be puzzled when they analyze the public debate from this era. “Why did the celebrity millionaire pundits spend so much time decrying student council edicts and the musings of a small group of relatively powerless activists while a much larger and infinitely more powerful faction openly plotted to kill democracy?” they’ll wonder, smoothing their antennas with four of their six hands.
I’ve said this before here and got chastised for it. But I’ll say it again: My only point of agreement with the average Trump voter is our shared belief that most “journalists” should be herded into chain link pens and forced to cower in terror as an angry mob bays for their blood.
Biden center left? Joe may be center left in a comparison to Manchin. In the real world, he is and always has been a right-wing corporate democrat.
Comment of the year Betty! Not being sarcastic.
‘@ WaterGirl May 23, 2022 at 2:07 PM
Friedman was too clever (in his own mind) by trying to get around the “off the record” agreement with that smarmy “I could hear it between the lines” nonsense. Which, I agree with you, sounded more like his own (highly respected by himself) opinion. Ugh.
I thought the Friedman error (sic) was over. I don’t like this new (old) development.
But on the bright side, he didn’t blame Biden for his poor job overseeing the baby formula industry.
Or the oil drilling industry.
Or the shipping industry.
‘@ Betty Cracker I bet those cockroach historians are far more interested in how and why we produced as many kinds of sucrose drinks, and how they can duplicate them.
But to your larger point, I believe the saying is “Fiddling while Rome burns”
And he probably spelled the bulk of his prepositions correctly!
You’ve put your finger on the problem, BC. In some ways, I understand the MAGA cult mindset more than that of the mainstream pundits.
Jonathon Turley is such an a-hole. And a terrible polemicist.
Maybe smart lawyer Turley can read the bill the House passed and that the Senate voted on.
Perhaps the limits on abortion should be “What a woman and her obstetrician decide is necessary.”
Enhanced Voting Techniques
Well, At lest Friedman admitted democracy is in peril and the solution isn’t moving further to the right. I suppose some “both sides” will get the Right to listen, even if “Bothsidism” is a big part of the problem.
Sort of reminds me though having to shut down people by telling them “yes, it’s also my fault because I could have done better at stopping you from acting stupid”
On the bright side, no imaginary taxi drivers were harmed in his column.
…while he has reunited the West, he may not be able to reunite America.
Speaking of “every defund-the-police initiative” (WTF??!), L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva is running reelection ads decrying such horrors as the “defunding” of his department, and the sin of not supporting his war on the homeless: He’s a true culture warrior, something Los Angeles really doesn’t need. Nor does it need Rick Caruso, who’s one of those “only I can fix it” types.
“…Those who backed Villanueva based on promises that he would cut ties with federal immigration enforcement, crack down on department corruption and reduce the prison population are now flabbergasted at his pivot toward Republican talking points — like blaming “wokeism” for declining living standards in the county — and his vitriolic reactions to those who question his policies…”
…while he has reunited the West, he may not be able to reunite America when one of the two parties has lost its mind and has no interest in that.
‘@Enhanced Voting Techniques May 23, 2022 at 2:50 PM
>>yes, it’s also my fault because I could have done better at stopping you from acting stupid”
That is the overarching theme of 99% of political discourse about Dems.
‘@AJ: “Comment of the year Betty! Not being sarcastic.”
100% agree! Truly, Betty, you are a treasure.
Deputinize Eurasia from the Kuriles to St Petersburg
‘@Betty Cracker May 23, 2022 at 2:13 PM
Nuke-mutated cockroaches will be smarter than us and work cooperatively to share knowledge and solutions to issues.
WaterGirl May 23, 2022 at 2:07 PM
“…And it’s worse than that because the only thing Friedman is presenting is his opinion, which is not worth very much.”
I am surprised he didn’t bring up the taxi driver again.
He and George Will should be superglued together and shot into the sun.
You think our big gasball can’t handle incinerating some gasbags?
Let’s be fair here: Friedman absolutely believes that those things are identical, and that it will absolutely be the fault of anyone to his left if the right does manage to take over and destroy the country.
I mean, he has to. His not-inconsiderable salary requires it.
Regular cockroaches already can live without a head. I fear they are Trump voters.
I generally not the kind of person who wants to inflict violence on other people, but I am beginning to get more than a bit irritated at the constant invocation of terrible campus censorship as something we should be really, really worried about. I have looked into a bunch of these incidents, and still do occasionally, and about 95% of them do not result in anything worse than the speakers finding out there are people who disagree with them. The Yale Law School incident, as I recall, involved people going to the event, making some noise, and leaving the room after a couple of minutes. If conservatives can’t stand that kind of thing, then they are a lot less rugged than they think they are. (I know of another incident where there were protests outside the event and the speaker chose to leave by the front door in an obvious attempt to provoke the protesters, then complained that they weren’t nice to him. Again, boo hoo.)
Mike in NC
They should hold the next CPAC cesspool in Pyongyang where it belongs.
I let myself get drawn into an argument about the Yale law students and their protest. The Federalist Society was inconvenienced a few minutes by having to see that other people actually disagree. The people I was arguing with were offended that there was any meaningful protest at all. One response was from someone who claimed they might have agreed with the students, but they should have sat quietly and held signs. (this was pathetic). I argued that on one side was a well funded organization filled with people that held enormous power over the rest of us and the students were right to challenge the abuse of that power. But in response I had another moderate conservative I know argue that as Yale Law students they would someday be wealthy and powerful, so they had no right to protest, it wasn’t like they were part of the poor masses. I finally had to stop responding before I stroked out or hurled my computer against the wall.
the speakers are being paid with student fees, so why SHOULDN”T the kids have a say, be able to express their opinion when they’re paying the people who are coming to their schools and telling them how much they suck?
it’s fucking ridiculous.
I had my getaway fantasy of running back to PA if Ronnie D and his crew keep control of FL (which I have a bad feeling they will), but PA Republicans horked up a candidate for governor who’s further out than DeSantis. The Old Country is starting to look better and better….
Very dishonest journalism. He had no business “reading between the lines” which is making up what he thinks someone else should be thinking i.e. lying.
Who cares about unifying America and why blame
biden or anyone when people who lie to us and themselves don’t get along with people who try to understand reality. I mean, these religious bigots are trying to kill women and steal their rights. We are supposed to be nice to them? I don’t think so. We need to inflict crushing defeats on them over and over till the prove they are reformed. Granted I don’t know if we can, but that is what we need to do. I used to make nice. They had their chances.
I have never understood Friedman’s appeal. Nor Maureen Dowd’s. They spew pablum that isn’t particularly well-informed much less insightful and rarely using what we used to call a fine turn of phrase. It’s just a sinecure with the goal of comforting the comforted.
‘@gvg — Friedman, in particular, will never tell you what he really thinks. I remember a character in a Le Carre book saying that it was a wonder someone’s butt wasn’t permanently sore from the amount of time he spent sitting on the fence. Friedman would never risk an opinion that might cut into his suitability to be considered for a speaking fee. I won’t read him or Dowd.
‘@BettyCracker: “Why did the celebrity millionaire pundits spend so much time decrying student council edicts and the musings of a small group of relatively powerless activists while a much larger and infinitely more powerful faction openly plotted to kill democracy?”
To make the left look more powerful than it is, because whatever portion of our mainstream national media is not outright fascist is fascist-adjacent.
“A judge has dismissed two recall campaigns against Loudoun County School Board members Brenda Sheridan and Atoosa Reaser, claiming the parent group seeking to remove the members from office lacked sufficient evidence.
The conservative group Fight for Schools, led by veteran GOP strategist Ian Prior, filed the recall petitions last fall — the culmination of a months-long campaign to remove the local officials in the wealthy Virginia county, where debates over coronavirus closures, equity and anti-racism programs, transgender student protections, and a sexual assault have roiled the school board for more than a year.”
If we were dealing with terrestrial levels of stupidity, then the Sun could handle it, no problem. However, we are talking about *galactic* levels of stupidity, so to be safe we should run the simulations first.
Tom Friedman writes like a tool because that’s what he is. He’s as dangerous as Trump and the Rightwing rabble which supports him. So much for the left wing media.
Ms. Redshift was just at a professional conference where for some unfathomable reason they had Friedman as a keynote speaker. She knew better than to waste her time, but from the buzz afterwards, the people who did go mostly didn’t know who he was (which is actually heartening), and were pretty pissed that he apparently couldn’t be bothered to learn anything about the group he was speaking to, and just told a bunch of generic anecdotes.
‘@ Kay, Loudoun is vulnerable to this kind of abuse because it has consistently failed to upgrade the professionalism of school management in spite of 20 years of growth among the wealthiest residents of Northern Virginia. Fairfax County School System does not have the same level of chaos.
President Biden can’t reunite the U,S, because Americans have become too stupid and too stubborn. They all think they right and the other person is all wrong, I give President Biden credit for being optimistic. I am 76 and have no hope for the future of America.