Readers of this blog know for a while that good ol’ Tommy is one of my favorites. So when I stumbled upon a list of “50 Most Loathsome People in America, 2005” and found him listed at number 7 squeezed between number 6 (Michael Jackson) and number 8 (Judith Miller), I was thrilled. He’s in good company — Pat Robertson, Dick Cheney, and George W Bush come in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, respectively in the list.
Here’s the entry, for the record:
Charge: The worst of all creatures in the political opinion jungle: a cretin who thinks he’s a genius. Friedman’s intolerable knack for converting irreducibly complex geopolitical/socioeconomic situations into simplistic, tin-eared insta-clichés makes him one of the most dangerous people on the planet, arming people even stupider than him with the illusion of knowledge in the form of a crude vocabulary of badly mixed metaphors and ill-conceived flashcard images, thereby having a negative net effect on the nation’s intellect. India and China are “like a bottle of champagne” which someone has been “shaking for 40 years;” the modern economy dictates that “you need to be at a certain level to be able to claim your share of a global pie that is both expanding and becoming more complex;” and the threat of terrorism is a “bubble” that threatens to “undermine” open society. Friedman’s disorienting literary ineptitude is nearly enough to distract us from the indisputable fact that he has no fucking idea what he’s talking about. For this dolt-friendly parlor trick and a slavish devotion to globalization and technology as abstract, almost mystical tenets, Friedman has achieved iconic status. Exhibits the easy smile and benevolent smugness of an unjustly celebrated man who has never thought very deeply or rigorously about anything at all.
Exhibit A: Despite his constant exaltation of the internet as some kind of global cure-all, Friedman had to actually fly to London to discover that European newspapers were having misgivings about Guantanamo Bay.
Sentence: Column outsourced to Bangalore, where there is some difficulty in finding a peasant ignorant and ineloquent enough to please his audience. Compelled at gunpoint to write a 500-page retraction of his recent best-seller, called “No, Actually the World is Round.”