Posts Tagged ‘Thomas Friedman’
November 5th, 2013 at 3:01 pm
Friedman’s World Not Just Flat, but “Racist”

My former boss, Bob Livingston, sent the letter below to the New York Times on Oct. 31. The Times hasn’t published it, so I will. It speaks for itself:

Dear Editor,

Last night, I attended a very nice gathering of roughly 1000 Egyptians and Americans hosted by some wonderful people seeking to enhance commercial and educational relations between Egypt and the US.  For the most part, all of the speakers including your own illustrious Tom Friedman provided positive and uplifting messages of hope and cooperation.

I say for the most part, because there was one notable exception so unexpected and out of context that it was breathtaking.  By that I refer to Mr. Friedman’s categorical and unsupported declaration in his closing remarks that 80% of those who politically oppose the Obama administration’s policies are racially motivated.

As a staunch conservative Republican with multiple friends and business partners not of my own race, I was so shocked by his declaration that I practically fell off my chair.  None of the other speakers found any reason to discuss race relations in either country, so Mr. Friedman’s statement was gratuitous, contextually odd, and completely erroneous.

When the program was over, I approached him and told him exactly what I thought…in words and phrases of my old sailor days.  To his credit, he did not retreat from his position, convincing me that he is either far less intelligent than I thought, or else he saw this gathering as a chance to spread hateful bigotry to an international audience without contradiction.


Robert L. Livingston

Member of Congress (Retired)

November 25th, 2011 at 3:29 pm
How ‘Do-Something’ Pundits Endanger the Country

Matt Welch of Reason magazine has a wonderfully critical review of New York Times columnist’s Tom Friedman’s newest paean to government action, That Used to Be Us: How America Fell Behind in the World It Invented and How We Can Come Back.  In a wide-ranging essay that faults as well NYT columnist David Brooks and CNN contributor (and one-time Bush speechwriter) David Frum for their simplistic preference for more government power to fix all that ails America, Welch explains how the ‘do-something’ crowd endangers freedom.

First, a definition:

Do something. Is there a two-word phrase in politics more loaded with disguised ideological content? Embedded within is both an urgent call for powerful government action and an up-front declaration that the policy details don’t matter. The bigger the crisis, the more the urgency, the sparser the detail.

Try as its cheerleaders might, there is nothing essentially new about ‘do-something’-ism:

As The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent pointed out in response to Miller, “many of those calling for a third party are refusing to reckon with an inconvenient fact: One of the two partiesalready occupies the approximate ideological space that these commentators themselves are describing as the dream middle ground that allegedly can only be staked out by a third party. That party is known as the ‘Democratic Party.’ ” By dreaming up a third way to deliver ideas and rhetoric already associated with Barack Obama, the centrists are making the implicit admission that the president is ineffectual in the face of GOP intransigence.

As usual, claimants for a ‘third way’ are really just calling for a formula that results in an overall subtraction of individual freedom:

Fortunately for Brooks—and unfortunately for us—there is a distinct third way. Though vague on details, it involves increased taxes (especially on energy), short-term spending boosts, long-term entitlement cuts, and roughly the same foreign policy commitments as today. It calls for renewed citizen engagement, a return to political civility, and a rejection of coarse cynicism. Better teachers, trained workers, and cleaner air. Although advocated by pundits from all over the traditional political spectrum, the program is remarkably uniform when it comes to giving the government more power. Just don’t call it ideological.

Read the entire piece, here.

August 22nd, 2010 at 3:31 pm
Is Thomas Friedman Defending the Bush Doctrine?

New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman offers what may be the most thought-provoking commentary on the withdrawal of American combat forces from Iraq:

In short: the key struggle with Islam is not inter-communal, and certainly not between Americans and Muslims. It is intra-communal and going on across the Muslim world. The reason the Iraq war was, is and will remain important is that it created the first chance for Arab Sunnis and Shiites to do something they have never done in modern history: surprise us and freely write their own social contract for how to live together and share power and resources. If they could do that, in the heart of the Arab world, and actually begin to ease the intra-communal struggle within Islam, it would be a huge example for others. It would mean that any Arab country could be a democracy and not have to be held together by an iron fist from above.

Considered in the most favorable light, this was the hope propelling former President George W. Bush’s decision to depose Saddam Hussein.  If Iraq could be successful, then the path would be open to other Arab nations to trade the strong man model for stronger civil society.

So far, the jury is still out; especially with Iraqi politicians locked in disputes over a power-sharing agreement after an inconclusive national election.  (Perhaps if the U.S. State Department had exported our winner-take-all system instead of the Europeans’ proportional scheme, the Iraqis would at least be able to get on with governing after they vote.)

Friedman’s column is a welcome addition to the debate about how the United States can best remake other countries.  As of August 2010, probably not much.  At the end of the day, the solution to what ails the Muslim world lies in the ingenuity and statesmanship not of some “great man” ready to play the part of George Washington or Nelson Mandela, but in the collective will of the Iraqi people.

March 25th, 2010 at 3:28 pm
Thomas Friedman Declares “Mission Accomplished” on Healthcare

Isn’t comprehensive legislation wonderful?  With the stroke of several pens this week, 30 million Americans now have health care!  Right now.  Check out liberals’ columnist of record, Thomas Friedman, who exhilaratingly proclaims that “covering so many uninsured Americans is a historic achievement.”  All that’s missing is a “Mission Accomplished” banner draped across the Mayo Clinic.

Except that none of the 30 million under-insured Americans has Obamacare health insurance today.  Those on the left love to distort the 2003 “Mission Accomplished” banner on the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln, which celebrated its crew’s successful deployment, as some sort of premature statement by President Bush that the Iraq campaign was concluded.  In this instance, however, Friedman may truly be celebrating a “mission accomplished” before his professed objective was, well, accomplished.  So-called “progressives” may be celebrating, but not for anything more than making a law.  That’s a result, not an achievement.