Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Friedman Bubble

I'm not sure when my Tom Friedman Bubble burst. I used to really enjoy reading him. While I often disagreed with him about the need for military action against Iraq back in 2002-03, I thought he was at least making cogent arguments. And while he used to back up his claims about the Middle East by quoting the one or two people in Saudi Arabia he actually knew, that was one or two more Saudi Arabians than any other big name columnist knew, so it gave him some credibility.

Anyway, it's hard to believe I once found arguments like this persuasive:

Seen in hindsight, Friedman appears to be either clinically insane or just a child with a moustache. And now his columns all seem to be some variation of, "The war [I cheered for] is going poorly, but Bush can save it by doing the following ten politically suicidal things: 1) Pass a $4/gallon national gas tax; 2) Appoint Muqtada al-Sadr to the U.S. Supreme Court...." And then, of course, when Bush does none of these things, he says we should give Bush another six months, which is renewable ad infinitum.

So part of this is unmasking Friedman as a bit of a fraud. But it's also a reminder that he, like a lot of us in the year or so after 9/11, was a bit loopy.

A common theme among Bush's defenders these days is that liberals don't realize what a dangerous world we live in, but another terror attack would snap us all into line. Well, that's probably true, but that doesn't make it desirable. Terrified people can overlook their differences and band together, but that doesn't mean that they'll make wise decisions.

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