Thomas Friedman's Tee Tea Party


Alert readers may recall that bumper-sticker entrepreneur Thomas L. Friedman has for some time been begging the president to adopt the slogan of nation-building at home. Today, in gushing over the "exhilarating" news about our new health care law, Friedman frets that "we still have so much more nation-building for America to do." Then he pivots straight to the crazy:

That is why I want my own Tea Party. I want a Tea Party of the radical center.

Radical center

Uh-oh. What is this mythical radical center of which he speaks?

It advocates: raising taxes to close our budgetary shortfalls, but doing so with a spirit of equity and social justice; guaranteeing that every American is covered by health insurance, but with market reforms to really bring down costs; legally expanding immigration to attract more job-creators to America's shores; increasing corporate tax credits for research and lowering corporate taxes if companies will move more manufacturing jobs back onshore; investing more in our public schools, while insisting on rising national education standards and greater accountability for teachers, principals and parents; massively investing in clean energy, including nuclear, while allowing more offshore drilling in the transition. You get the idea.

Yes, I do get the idea, in part because I've heard these exact same phrases uttered over and over again by noted non-radical-centrist Barack Hussein Obama. And what the people who actually care about the gap between political word and deed have learned over these past 14 months is that if the president and a majority in Congress owes favors to teachers unions, the rhetoric of "investing more in our public schools, while insisting on rising national education standards and greater accountability for teachers" creates the reality of breaking all records for spending on the education status quo while doing next to nothing about the stranglehold that teachers have on their own hiring and firing. The president is "massively investing in clean energy," just like Jimmy Carter did, and we are still waiting for those 5 million green jobs to trickle down. The new health care package was in fact sold by proponents as including "market reforms to really bring down costs"; is Friedman saying he doesn't believe them?

The columnist's definitions of "radical centrism," as made tangible through our political system, will be what we end up living with over the next several years, minus the election-law reform and massive carbon tax of his dreams. Why would there be a grassroots movement to parrot the official line?

I'll quote Friedman's close, because it encapsulates almost every characteristic of his reliably bizarre punditry–the bumper sticker repetition, the non-essential quoting of the hyper-elite, the political non-starters:

Because all good radical-centrist Tea Party activists come from the Kennedy clan. Wait, what?

Obama won the presidency by tapping the center—centrist Democrats, independents and Republicans who wanted to see nation-building at home "to make their own lives and those of others better," said Tim Shriver, the C.E.O. of the Special Olympics. They saw in Obama a pragmatist who could pull us together for pragmatic solutions. But hyperpartisanship has frustrated those hopes. (Alas, though, it is not equal. There are still many conservative Blue Dog Democrats, but the liberal Rockefeller Republicans have been wiped out.) If that radical center wants to be empowered, it can't just whine. It needs its own grass-roots movement to promote reforms like nonpartisan redistricting and alternative voting in every state. It's tea time for the center.

Reason on Friedman here. Also, if anyone has some time on their hands, they should Google or Lexis Friedman quotations of Larry Diamond, presented here with the snappy title of "democracy expert." He might be the next Michael Mandelbaum!

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  1. Holy crap beanpole, eat a donut.

    1. Question: if this guy were standing next to Ezra Klein, whose face would you punch first?

      It’s like Buridan’s Ass.

      1. come on people, Friedman is a peaceful person, please stop this violent extremist talk. He consistenly talks openly about his love for all people…just watch his video

        1. just watch his video

          Sorry, no. That’s 3 minutes of my life that I will use on more productive ventures, like cutting and huffing paint fumes.

      2. I bet (two) Fists of Etiquette could help you with this one!

  2. I read the article this morning. Living in Williamsburg, you can’t help but notice the social phenomenon of hipsters hating “those fucking hipsters.”

    It’s… the exact same thing with liberals.

    If this is Friedman’s center, what the hell is his left? Just his standard American left? The October Revolution?

  3. Nation-building at home?!? Isn’t that disturbingly martial? He probably initially was going to call it the War on Prosperity, but then realized that didn’t sound so great.

    God damn I hate these people.

    1. Friedman’s column gives me the mental image of someone attempting to plant grass with an impact hammer and explosives.

      1. “Grow faster!!!” (BOOM)

        1. What really gets me about self-deluding tools like Friedman is when he writes this kind of tripe, he is implicitly saying that this time it will be different.

          I’m sure he’ll still be wondering what went wrong as he’s placed up against the wall.

          1. “I’m sure he’ll still be wondering what went wrong as he’s placed up against the wall.”

            Thanks for making my day a little brighter with that mental image.

      2. Hmm..hmm hmm…dammit…this seed has a BAD attitude. Hmm hmm…yeah.

  4. Obama won the presidency by tapping the center

    I don’t think that word means what he thinks it means.

  5. This guy and Goodwin Liu aren’t that different. They both shart out meaningless nice-sounding phrases to advance their agenda while masquerading as intellectuals, it’s just Friedman pretends to be speaking comprehensibly.

  6. I love the headline atop that Crawdaddy magazine: “Scientific Conspiracy: The Robot Menace.”

    In 1975! James Cameron eat your heart out!

    1. I want to live in that magazine’s world.

      1. I’m trying to imagine you without the famous fedora hat and with a scraggly ’70s stoner beard like Walton’s instead.

        Actually, something tells me there’s probably embarrassing photos of you floating around out there that look exactly like that.

          1. OMGWTFLOL

          2. LOL WUT

          3. That was some healthy hair, Matt.

            1. Nexus is your friend.

              I think that was peak length, but that was the basic template for a decade.


          5. Hey, its that chick from the seventies show. She was so much prettier as a red head.

            1. Coming from a guy who spent the 80s looking like a member of the Bay City Rollers.

          6. Where can I get that cool invisible cell phone you had in the photo?

      2. Are you sure it isn’t that you want to live in the cover model’s arms…forever?

      3. Weve all assumed you do.

  7. Take it easy on Friedman. He is a serious thinker on foreign policy issues. Nobody nailed the Iraq war like Friedman. You have to respect a guy who is this articulate:Friedman Says Suck On This

    1. You also have to respect that Charlie Rose guy, he doesn’t let his guest get away with just promoting their causes..he brings on all different kinds of smart people and asks them all tough questions. Thats why we will never see one of these racist Ron Paul types onhis show.

      1. Ron Paul is not a racist. You must be thinking of Louis Farrakhan or David Duke, who ARE racists.


        1. TLG,

          Don’t bother trying to argue with it. Jokes that are as old as Nancy Pelosi’s first tampon and as tired as Barney Frank’s in-house jizz-mopper never listen.

  8. Sounds to me like he might have a wee too much spare time on his hands LOL


  9. When America nation builds, it increases freedoms. This Administration is not nation building, it’s government building. There is a existential difference.

    1. It increases freedoms by imposing a government on foreigners? Alrighty then…

  10. For a Times column, it’s awful short on admonishments that if America is ever to reach its glorious Obama-headed potential, “we” need to be beaten down by a Chinese-style terror state. Weakness.

  11. Here’s a bumper sticker for you

    “Obama won the presidency by tapping the center, then double tapping it”

  12. Shorter Friedman: The beatings will continue until the nation improves.

    1. Hey, you are a star and everything, Tom, but we have column inches to fill, we can’t just go with an eight word sentence.

      ‘The beatings will continue until the nation improves. Until the nation improves the beating will continue. The country is on a path towards better outcomes, but until we reach our goals, a kick down of the masses will commence forward.’

  13. Since the public will now pick up the tab when someone drills into his head and fills the void with Hershey’s syrup, health care reform is just going to lead to more Thomas Friedmans.

  14. Listen, if I lived in a house that could be used in a Batman film as Wayne manor, I’m pretty sure my agenda would include raising taxes on people who don’t already pay accountants six or seven figures to hide money from the government.

  15. So doe Friedman favor Internet censorship?

  16. Wait, his middle name is Hussein? I wish someone would have mentioned this before.

  17. Tom Friedman for the win win win win win. Stoner beards.

  18. “…Raising taxes to close our budgetary shortfalls, but doing so with a spirit of equity and social justice”–

    Stop right there.

  19. “…Raising taxes to close our budgetary shortfalls, but doing so with a spirit of equity and social justice”

    Equity = everybody pays?

    Social justice = those segments of society that draw the most from the federal fisc pay a proportional amount?

    I’m speaking English. I wonder what language he’s speaking?

  20. I’m constantly amazed at how these people believe everything will be better if we just all support policies that are for something, regardless of their actual effects.

    Even more amazing, as per Welch, is how no matter how many times they reiterate their points, they insist that “they’re really quite popular” and it’s just “the American people have not been educated on our positions.”

    They truly are a sheltered class.

    1. I’m constantly amazed at how these people believe everything will be better if we just all support policies that are for something, regardless of their actual effects.

      Under this criterion, how was the invasion of Iraq?

      1. Uh, was that directed at me, or are you just trolling?

        The NYTimes has been remarkably wrong on Iraq as well. When the surge was initiated they were sure that the whole of Iraq was going to collapse. That did not occur at all. While I definitely think we should bring the troops home, the NYTimes was empirically wrong in their later assessment because they wanted it to be so. This is just as the neo-conservatives were wrong in theirs.

        One thing is very sure with the Times, they’re always right, even when they’re wrong.

  21. We are never going to win this battle against these people. Our only real hope is to let them have it all, everything they want in spades and let this bloated excuse for an empire collapse under its own weight and then, maybe, we can start with a clean slate again.

  22. Come on, even if you don’t like his ideas on what we should be doing, his ideas on how to fix the 2 party system aren’t half bad:

    “How best to promote these hybrid ideas? Break the oligopoly of our two-party system. Diamond suggests two innovations. First, [put a non-partisan committee of citizens in charge of redistricting].

    Second, get states to adopt “alternative voting.” One reason independent, third-party, centrist candidates can’t get elected is because if, in a three-person race, a Democrat votes for an independent, and the independent loses, the Democrat fears his vote will have actually helped the Republican win, or vice versa. Alternative voting allows you to rank the independent candidate your No. 1 choice, and the Democrat or Republican No. 2.”

    That style of voting would be enormously helpful in getting liberty minded candidates into power. I don’t recall seeing anyone with nearly Friedman’s audience promoting changing how we vote to help 3rd parties – why not embrace it?

    I’ve come close to giving up on libertarian organizations several times before because of their arrogance, inability to compromise, and absolute hatred of anything that fails their ideological purity tests.

    If you just want to whine about how you’re right and the everyone else in the world is wrong, immoral, and foolish, go right ahead.

    OTOH, if you’d actually like to fix problems it will mean making common cause with people that aren’t libertarians. There simply aren’t enough libertarians out there to make the changes you want.

    1. Just use a ballot-weighted lottery in lieu of a standard vote. Gerrymander will serve little purpose under such a system, and long incumbency will suggest either extreme popularity, luck, or fraud.

      It would be a little rich to claim that it’s “unfair” or “undemocratic”, granted that we use a similarly random system to select who determines guilt or innocence in trials. It’s just more likely to ensure that the common man or minorities get a voice, so the power elites in both parties will oppose it.

    2. sounds good. I support you. I’m out of money for political campaigns so good luck making it happen.

  23. Tom Friedman: One good idea buried under a pile of shit. Friedman says Iraq is about telling the iraqi children to suck it

  24. There are still many conservative Blue Dog Democrats

    True. It’s just that none of them are serving in Congress.

  25. Am I being too simplistic in saying that much of what 2010 progressives say/believe comes right from the pages of “Atlas Shrugged”?

    I’m not a huge fan of the book, but my god everytime I hear this type of touchy-feely bullshit, it sounds like the characters created by Rand.

    Hell if fiction is going to become reality, then I’m off to the bedroom w/ a Barbie, a Commodore 3000, and some Oingo Boingo.

    1. Given that the book depicts the future actions of politicians so accurately, as you correctl observe….why do you feel the need to say your not a huge fan of the book? It seems like a pretty fucking good book.

  26. If we want to expand immigration to attract job creators, why not just raise quotas from countries most likely to do so? I am guessing Mexico doesn’t rate that highly on the list.

  27. How does he square this:

    “It advocates: raising taxes to close our budgetary shortfalls, but doing so with a spirit of equity and social justice;…”

    with this?:

    “…increasing corporate tax credits for research and lowering corporate taxes if companies will move more manufacturing jobs back onshore;…”

    How do you do equity in the tax structure if you giving out tax break goodies (as opposed to lowering taxes to competitive levels) for rent seeking?

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