Thursday, June 09, 2016

The Obligatory Tom Friedman Third Party Column

Before I serve up a few droppings from today's Obligatory Tom Friedman Third Party Column, I commend to your attention these excerpts from Columbia Journalism Review's article from five years ago on the phenomenon of the Obligatory Tom Friedman Third Party Column (which I originally commended to your attention four years ago) to underscore just exactly how extraordinarily terrible and lazy The Mustache of Understanding really is:
Over the weekend, The New York Times op-ed page published one of Tom Friedman’s periodic columns about the need for a uprising of the “radical center.” It was, unsurprisingly, terrible. Though the details of these columns change with each iteration—this one relied heavily on a new initiative called Americans Elect, which brings together two of Friedman’s favorite things, wealthy people and the Internet—the basic wrongheadedness does not.

Friedman’s idea seems to be that if only we can find some reform that will allow us to “break the oligopoly of the two-party system,” it might, someday, be possible for someone who holds 90 percent of Barack Obama’s stated policy positions—plus support for a carbon tax—to assume a position of power. Then, for reasons that aren’t entirely clear—maybe because some fantasy vice president (Michael Bloomberg?) applies some of his “pragmatic independent” pixie dust?—political dysfunction disappears, and a magical new era of “superconsensus” to solve our “superhard” problems is ushered in. Startlingly, this consensus seems to closely reflect many of Friedman’s personal policy preferences.

Friedman has been engaged in third-party wishcasting for at least five years now; Brendan Nyhan’s excellent, running blog post on third-party media hype records that back in the 2006 election cycle, Friedman longed for a “Geo-Green Party.” His “radical center” phase, though, seems to be inspired by the Tea Party era. Friedman has devoted columns to this mythical middle at least three times since spring 2010. They’re as predictable as the tides, or a hackneyed lede about a conversation with a taxi driver or tech entrepreneur.
Five years ago Friedman's ridiculous Magical Third Party fetish was already an running joke.

And today?
Dump the G.O.P. for a Grand New Party

Thomas L. Friedman JUNE 7, 2016

This is followed by a bill of indictment laid at the foot of the Party of Lincoln for their bad behavior over the last 10 months --
Today’s G.O.P. is to governing what Trump University is to education — an ethically challenged enterprise that enriches and perpetuates itself by shedding all pretense of standing for real principles, or a truly relevant value proposition, and instead plays on the ignorance and fears of the public.
--  that looks remarkably similar to the bill of indictment which the Dirty Hippies have been roundly mock and ignored for laying at the foot of the Party of Lincoln over and over again for the last 20 years.

Mr. Friedman concludes that he knows so many rich idiots whose brains have turned to pudding from reading too much Tom Friedman "so many thoughtful conservatives" who are appalled at what has happened to their party and that one of them...
...has got to start the N.R.P. — New Republican Party — a center-right party liberated from all the Trump birthers, the Sarah Palins, the Grover Norquists, the Sean Hannitys, the Rush Limbaughs, the gun lobby, the oil lobby and every other narrow-interest group, a party that redefines a principled conservatism.
Mr. Friedman speculates that one of the reason for the rise of Trump is that voters have beome cynical because they see politician as a clutch of cynical, clueless hacks who keep their jobs by telling their base whatever they want to hear, regardless of how false or inane or ludicrously impossible it may be.

I'm pretty sure that no one in Mr. Friedman's circle of friends has any idea that this is exactly what many of us think of professional political pundits like Tom Friedman. 


Kevin Holsinger said...

Good morning, Mr. Glass.

Fried-man: Apocalypse

"Everything they've built will fall! And from the ashes of their party, we'll build a better one!"

Be seeing you.

steeve said...

"New Republican Party — a center-right party liberated from all the Trump birthers, the Sarah Palins, the Grover Norquists, the Sean Hannitys, the Rush Limbaughs" and literally every republican elected today. So the new republican party will have zero republicans in it. Not sure why they're keeping the name.

Friedman thinks that the leader of this new party should be someone identical to Friedman. Someone identical to Friedman already exists - his name is Friedman - but sadly he's not running. So the dream is dead.

SamB said...

The recent Friedman column is a devastating critique of the Republican Party. It's one-sided, not both-siderist. That's progress. Even so, Friedman evidently doesn't want to tell his readers to vote for Hillary, for reasons you have discussed. Still, it's bizarre that Friedman would promote the third-party fantasy right after the collapse of Bill Kristol's. Also, evidently, Friedman doesn't want to tell his readers to vote Libertarian. (Maybe if he were on NBC, he would.)

Meantime, TPM reports that the Republican Convention host committee is chaired by men from a company that Trump has attacked for off-shoring jobs. Ha! Ha!

Paul Wartenberg said...

Friedman's doing this backwards.

All he needs to do is convince the modern Republican party to bring back all the moderate RINOs that Norquist and Fox Not-News drove out over the last 20 years, and THEN get rid of the Palinites, the neo-Confederates, the religious wingnuts. THEN he'll have his wonderful Middle Way alternative.

banker puppy said...

Paraphrasing Tom Lehrer's 'My Home Town,' Friedman's 'principled conservatism' is simply the familiar whine of a rightie who...
really has a yen to go back once again,
back to that place where no one wears a frown.
To have once more those super-special, just plain folks
Lead the new party in town.

This, of course, never existed.

And, btw, isn't it just adorable how the proposed solutions put forth by the likes of Kristol, Brooks, Friedman and their ilk can be summed up as:
"If everybody listened to me, problem solved. I know this because I'm [pundit's name here] and you're not."

It's the same precious arrogance that the presumptive GOP nominee peddles. What a coincidence...

RUKidding said...

Friedman, along with the rest of his ilk, ginned up today's GOP in all of it's bigoted racist sexist homophobic dumb glory, and now Friedman, along with the rest of his ilk, is whining and crying: oh where oh where did all the polite, well-mannered, smart people go???

Wonder how and why that happened.

Because of Friedman and his ilk, the GOP has turned into the KKKlown KKKar. Pushing the Overton Window so far to the right - a feature not a bug - has pushed the Democratic party ever rightward as well (my big beef).

So, you want a Center right party with smart people who are mostly well-mannered and mostly aren't racist sexist homophobic idiots? Why look no further than today's Democratic party. Most of what the Democratic party stands for these days - at least on paper - is what the Pig people actually want, too (that is, if they're asked questions correctly in a decent survey). But because the Pig People have been so propagandized to hate and despise anything being with the dreaded letter "D"?? Well... this is the end result.

No thanks to Friedman and his ilk. You made this bed. Lay in it.

Davis Statton said...

He knows "so many thoughtful conservatives"? Really? Name them. I think I spied a "thoughtful conservative" walking down Fifth Avenue with Sasquatch.

keith gargus said...

I consider myself open-minded. In fact in most circles I'm thought of as a libertine. But I draw the line at Friedman-on-Friedman graphics. Simply disgusting, keep it up.

Neo Tuxedo said...

I think I spied a "thoughtful conservative" walking down Fifth Avenue with Sasquatch.

And his hair was perfect! ♪ Owoooo... thoughtful conservatives... ♪

dinthebeast said...

I agree (again) with RUKidding. As a life long flaming liberal, I find it easy to spot the "so many thoughtful conservatives"; they're called Democrats these days. This is somewhat out of necessity: the Republican party has gone so far out of reality or the simple ability to do its job (conservative meaning conserving norms and traditions) and into radical right wing ideology, that the conserving of norms and traditions (such as the funding of, or even having the government) have long since fallen to the Democrats, who, while far from perfect, are at least not batshit insane and remain somewhat functional as a governing party. OK, a few of them are batshit insane, but they are mostly consigned to the fringes as they traditionally have been for eons...
I think that this is what Frank Zappa meant that time when he was arguing on the teevee with some Republicans and told them that he was a conservative.

-Doug in Oakland