Beautiful, I thought. Just when you begin to lose faith in Americaâ€™s ability to fall for absolutely anythingâ€”just when you begin to think we Americans as a race might finally outgrow the lovable credulousness that leads us to fork over our credit card numbers to every half-baked TV pitchman hawking a magic dick-enlarging pill, or a way to make millions on the Internet while sitting at home and pounding doughnutsâ€” along comes Thomas Friedman, porn-stached resident of a positively obscene 11,400 square foot suburban Maryland mega-monstro-mansion and husband to the heir of one of the largest shopping-mall chains in the world, reinventing himself as an oracle of anti-consumerist conservationism.
Where does a man who needs his own offshore drilling platform just to keep the east wing of his house heated get the balls to write a book chiding America for driving energy inefficient automobiles? Where does a guy whose family bulldozed 2.1 million square feet of pristine Hawaiian wilderness to put a Gap, an Old Navy, a Sears, an Abercrombie and even a motherfucking Foot Locker in paradise get off preaching to the rest of us about the need for a â€œGreen Revolutionâ€? Well, heâ€™ll explain it all to you in 438 crisply written pages for just $27.95, $30.95 if you have the misfortune to be Canadian.
Iâ€™ve been unhealthily obsessed with Thomas Friedman for more than a decade now. For most of that time, I just thought he was funny. And admittedly, what I thought was funniest about him was the kind of stuff that only another writer would really care aboutâ€”in particular his tortured use of the English language. Like George W. Bush with his Bushisms, Friedman came up with lines so hilarious you couldnâ€™t make them up even if you were tryingâ€”and when you tried to actually picture the â€œillustrativeâ€ figures of speech he offered to explain himself, what you often ended up with was pure physical comedy of the Buster Keaton/Three Stooges school, with whole nations and peoples slipping and falling on the misplaced banana peels of his literary endeavors.
Remember Friedmanâ€™s take on Bushâ€™s Iraq policy? â€œItâ€™s OK to throw out your steering wheel,â€ he wrote, â€œas long as you remember youâ€™re driving without one.â€ Picture that for a minute. Or how about Friedmanâ€™s analysis of Americaâ€™s foreign policy outlook last May:
The first rule of holes is when youâ€™re in one, stop digging.When youâ€™re in three, bring a lot of shovels.â€
First of all, how can any single person be in three holes at once? Secondly, what the fuck is he talking about? If youâ€™re supposed to stop digging when youâ€™re in one hole, why should you dig more in three? How does that even begin to make sense? Itâ€™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. Sending a line like that into print is the journalism equivalent of a security guard at a nuke plant waving a pair of mullahs in explosive vests through the front gate. It should never, ever happen.