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.
Dump the G.O.P. for a Grand New PartyThomas 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.