Saturday, January 17, 2009

Taibbi on Friedman: Putting a Porn-stache on the Obvious

Matt Taibbi is not a fan of Thomas Friedman:

[H]ow about Friedman’s analysis of America’s foreign policy outlook last May:
"The first rule of holes is when you’re in one, stop digging.When you’re in three, bring a lot of shovels.”
First of all, how can any single person be in three holes at once? Secondly, what the fuck is he talking about? If you’re supposed to stop digging when you’re in one hole, why should you dig more in three? How does that even begin to make sense? It’s stuff like this that makes me wonder if the editors over at the New York Times editorial page spend their afternoons dropping acid or drinking rubbing alcohol.
There's plenty more where that came from, and it's not all lengthy insults. Not that there's anything wrong with lengthy insults -- lengthy insults make the world go 'round on a certain reading of the world. Especially if they're as spot-on as this one:
This is Friedman’s life: He flies around the world, eats pricey lunches with other rich people and draws conclusions about the future of humanity by looking out his hotel window and counting the Applebee’s signs.
Taibbi's article also ridicules Friedman's porn-stache, as it should, but it gets too world weary by half with this criticism of Friedman's advocacy of 'green' technology:
The need for massive investment in green energy is an idea so obvious and inoffensive that even presidential candidates from both parties could be seen fighting over who’s for it more in nationally televised debates last fall ...
The idea may be obvious and inoffensive to Matt Taibbi, Thomas Friedman, and countless millions around the world -- it's certainly obvious and inoffensive to me and to any political figure I'd consider serious -- but we just endured eight long years under a presidential administration that considered it unobvious and offensive, if not downright abominable. And did Taibbi really believe McCain-Palin's greenwashed boilerplate?

Thomas Friedman may have a knack for wreckless imagery, a risible mustache, and a not-infrequent lack of rigor in his analyses, but it's to his credit that he states the obvious to audiences large enough to contain people who have labored to evade it. There are worse things than stating simple truths, even if it means passing them off as profundities.

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