It is with a heavy heart that I must announce that Thomas Friedman is at it again.
(The above is a take-off on this fairly famous meme created by one of the most well-known of the Weird Twitter crowd.)
Unfortunately to those of us who are not a well-to-do “centrist” with no soul, Friedman is often “at it again.” Friedman is one of those Very Serious Public Intellectuals who has made a living out of being wrong. I won’t get into listing them all, but given we’re in the age of Do Your Own Research, I recommend a Google search on Thomas and Friedman and wrong. But we know he is a Serious Thinker based on his column avatar, where his chin is resting thoughtfully on his hands which are folded thoughtfully below his very thoughtful face:
In this case, Tommy (not to be confused with the good Tommy, the T one) tells us all about his lunch with President Biden. First, he regales us with what he had to eat.
I can, though, tell you two things — what I ate and how I felt after. I ate a tuna salad sandwich with tomato on whole wheat bread, with a bowl of mixed fruit and a chocolate milkshake for dessert that was so good it should have been against the law.
We know the feeling, Tom. You have a healthy lunch and then blow it with a dessert. Anyway, he goes on to talk about how Biden is not a bumbling old man and has done a bang-up job pulling together and managing the alliance with Ukraine against Russia. Great so far, no argument there.
Then he goes into some highly skilled, championship-level both-siderism, which peppers the rest of the column.
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 clearly his priority, above any Build Back Better provision. And he knows that’s why he was elected — a majority of Americans worried that the country was coming apart at the seams and that this old war horse called Biden, with his bipartisan instincts, was the best person to knit us back together. It’s the reason he decided to run in the first place, because he knows that without some basic unity of purpose and willingness to compromise, nothing else is possible.
The country “coming apart at the seams” has a clear villain: the far-right that has taken over the country. But Friedman just cannot bring himself to see the obvious because he is blinded by a deep and unabiding hatred of anyone who wants politics to truly help others. This next paragraph is something:
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.
First off, “defund the police” has become a dog whistle boogieman designed to shut down any suggestion of police reform, and has never been a major push by elected officials. Nor has “every speaker run off campus” been something Democratic politicians have been pushing. Comparing the left’s so-called transgressions to the right’s will always fail and be disingenuous because the right’s transgressions are driven by one of our two major political powers pushing these ideals through with actual bills.
And sorry, but putting the left criticizing hate speech on the same level as an avowed racist shooting up a supermarket is deeply vulgar.
Friedman then returns to Earth and goes on to describe the horrors coming from the Republican Party. All good and true – an insurrection, attempts to steal an election, and threats to end democracy are what is going on at the moment with the GOP.
But Friedman can’t help himself. He has blame the Dems as well.
Biden is not blameless in this dilemma, nor is the Democratic Party — particularly its far-left wing. Under pressure to revive the economy, and facing big-ticket demands from the far left, Biden pursued expansive spending for too long. House Democrats also sullied one of Biden’s most important bipartisan achievements — a giant infrastructure bill — by making it hostage to other excessive spending demands. The far left also saddled Biden and every Democratic candidate with radical notions like “defund the police” — an insane mantra that would have most harmed the Black and Hispanic base of the Democratic Party had it been implemented.
Where to begin. First off, the “excessive spending demands” means that Biden supported the Build Back Better bill that included things that would fix serious problems (ahem, like climate change) and move American society forward. A deal was made with progressive Democrats to allow the infrastructure bill to pass, however, this deal was quashed by The Two Senators. What was in the BBB also was quite popular, things such as universal health care, but for people like Friedman “popular” only means things he himself agrees with.
And again, very, very few politicians supported Defund the Police, and the only reason why it is still being talked about are people like Friedman, who constantly bring it up to use it as a weapon against progressives and any form of police reform.
He ends with this:
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.
Defining the party’s future? Where? How? The party can barely get anything passed because of Manchin and Sinema (again, POPULAR things can’t get passed). And if you are someone who will allow America to turn authoritarian because you don’t want the poors to have healthcare or are a climate change skeptic, then what is wrong with you?
We cannot keep blaming those on the left for problems with our democracy that are most definitely the completely the fault of one of our major parties (the GOP). Doing so only gives them the cover they need. After all, why would they stop carrying out insurrections if an overly celebrated columnist claims that an insurrection is exactly the same as some college kids protesting Ann Coulter?
The last word goes to The Who. We’ve mentioned two Tommys already, here’s a third: