Monday, June 25, 2012

Thomas Friedman Writes His Only Column Again

From Gawker courtesy of a facebook friend:

This, the paragraph in which several computer-related buzzwords are followed by an elementary conclusion delivered in a tone reverent enough to impress someone whose news diet does not consist of anything more substantial than Thomas Friedman columns, is an absolutely necessary ingredient in any Thomas Friedman column. It comes standard, like the salmonella in a poorly cooked chicken sandwich.


Telling the truth is good, argues Thomas Friedman. Does he also believe that you should look both ways before crossing the street, eat your vegetables, and get adequate sleep? You'll have to keep buying Thomas Friedman's book forever and ever, to find out.

More here.

I'm not sure when it happened exactly, but at some point in the last decade or so I had the dawning realization that numerous members of the establishment punditocracy are mediocre intellects, at best. And I'm not talking ideology, either. Indeed, it seems to me that the more wedded to ideology an essayist is, the more of an interesting argument he makes, even if I totally disagree. No, I'm talking much more about the seemingly non-partisan, "neutral" pundits, the ones trying to come out of that journalistic tradition of "objectivity," sort of the defenders of the status quo, whatever that status quo happens to be at the moment.

Friedman is probably the most prominent of these types, and reading their columns and op-ed pieces is like reading nicely polished high school papers for government or English class. It's like, okay, I see your reasoning, nicely done, an A paper. Of course, good high school students aren't establishment opinion makers, or rather, pro status quo apologists; one intuitively expects a bit more, intellectually speaking, from people who are making millions and quoted by other journalists and politicians.

I mean, check out this quick snippet of interview with him:

He goes into this wild explanation of Bush's War on Terror, coming up with a financial world metaphor that absolutely no one else was using, at the time or in the almost decade since, and following that metaphor to the conclusion that we attacked Saddam Hussein in order to say to the Islamic world "Suck on this!" I mean, that really is high school, from the bizarre and awkward "terrorism bubble" construction, to reducing the complex and varied motivations for the illegal and immoral invasion of Iraq down to a school yard taunt. That's how this guy thinks, like a smarmy smart mouthed asshole honors class kid.

I like to think that by the time I was thirty I had outgrown that shit. But not Friedman. His is the epitome of elite centrist opinion. That is, fucking stupid as all get out. I continue to wonder how people like him get work, let alone have a seat at the grownups table for public discourse. It's really no wonder that we're going to hell in a hand basket.