Tom Friedman Listening Tour
Having read The Lexus and The Olive Tree and dozens of his columns over the years, I have one small suggestion for Thomas L. Friedman. I suggest that he come up with some new material every once in a while. Instead of constantly complaining that President Bush isn’t working hard enough to win European support, he might ask what it is that the Europeans have done to shoulder their fair share of the burden for defending themselves during the past six decades, first against Communism and now against Jihadist terrorists.
Let me put this is bluntly as I can: George W. Bush was just re-elected by a majority of the American electorate, which is a much more important referendum on U.S. foreign policy than a handful of people a columnist meets on a ten day tour in Europe. Sure, some people may think Mr. Friedman more qualified to advise the president than Condoleeza Rice, but I haven’t met them yet.
While perusing Memeorandum earlier this morning, I came across a blogger from Q&A who identifies himself only as McQ. He told me that, “Sometimes Thomas Friedman drives me up a wall.” Startled that anyone could be anything but enraptured with the great Times columnist and Expert On Everything, I continued to listen. Responding to several European analysts Mr. Friedman met in a bar who longed for the America of old that didn’t hassle people at the border, McQ snapped, “September 11th, 2001 changed that forever. It’s time you and the Ponyites figure that out. The government of the US isn’t here to make German bar flies happy. It’s here to make US citizens safe and secure.”
While sipping on what was left of my Diet Cherry Coke, I moseyed over to a little watering hole called Captain’s Quarters, a favorite among regular Joes in these parts. There, I met the proprieter, “Captain Ed” Morrissey, who offered that maybe it’s the Europeans who are wrong rather than Mr. Bush. He proclaimed, “The solution to the problem isn’t silence, but continually challenging the European electorate to rouse themselves from their defeatism and knee-jerk pacifism. They don’t like George Bush because he reminds them that the European public can’t even defend themselves any more, let alone assist us in our security issues.” Then, JB, a frequent patron at CQ, noted that Friedman seems to be contradicting things that he’d written in his previous column.
Joe Schmoe, who for all you know is a cab driver from Fairfax, Virginia who I didn’t make up to support what I was going to write anyway, told me, “When Friedman went on his sabbatical a while back, I was hoping he’d stay gone. It’s just too much work reading three bad columns making the same hackneyed point for every good one. Really, I prefer to read blogs these days.”
Mr. Friedman is a bright guy and he’s often got interesting things to say. Certainly, he travels a lot and talks to many interesting people and writes down things that they say. But does he really expect a president of the United States to go around with his tail between his legs seeking advice from the likes of Jacques Chirac, much less Stefan Elfenbein, a food critic nursing a beer at his table?
Yes, yes, there are legitimate counters to all these points. But before I will listen to Mr. Friedman make those counterpoints, he will have to write another readable column first.