We have said it before: If hot air could be used as a viable energy source, Tom Friedman alone could solve the world crisis. The billionaire pundit’s arrogance often matches his ignorance—and is there any point in asking why the NYTimes poo-bahs keep him under contract?
By Steve Jonas / Dateline: Tue, 10/16/2007 –
Tom Friedman has been wrong before about the major issues of our time. He supported “globalization” and apparently still does, even though this is finally being revealed to be not at all about “free trade” (e.g., U.S. sugar), as some observers have known for quite some time. Rather it is about the free export of capital to places where it can make a lot more profit for its owners than it could in the U.S. Tom Friedman originally supported the War on Iraq, even though he wasn’t sure about WMD. And now Tom Friedman is wrong on Gore (for the most part) and on Bush.
Among other things, he said: “Seeing Al Gore so deservedly share the Nobel Peace Prize [he’s right on this one], it is impossible not to note the contrast in his leadership and that of George W. Bush. Mr. Gore and Mr. Bush each faced a crucible moment. For Mr. Gore, it was winning the popular vote and having the election taken away from him by a Republican-dominated Supreme Court. . . Mr. Gore lost the presidency, but in the dignity and grace with which he gave up his legal fight, he united America.”
Gore did not give up the Presidency with dignity and grace. He gave it up with the look of a beaten man who did not realize that he had been attacked by gutter-fighters. He did not realize the Georgites had no intention of playing by the rules even though he thought they were. Apparently he didn’t read the immediate post-election issue of Time magazine in which Sandra Day O’Connor, whose one vote gave Bush the presidency, said at a Republican (!) election-night party words to the effect of “Al Gore cannot be president.” Apparently he didn’t notice that when the Dade County (Miami) Board of Elections was about to begin their planned recount, they were intimidated into stopping it by a mob lead by none other than John Bolton (yes, that John Bolton) all shown on television live, no less (and I saw it, thinking of the Nazi Brownshirts).
All Gore had to do was respond to the Supreme Court decision by saying “OK, one man, one vote? Fine, we’ll go back to the Florida Courts and file for a statewide recount,” which he should have done at the outset. When certification of election results came before the Congress, all he had to do was ask one Senator to join the group of House members who did challenge, and then the Republican cheating might well have come out for all to see. As for uniting the country, he hardly did that. “Bush stole it” became the slogan for many of us from the moment Gore gave up. Gore is a different man now, to be sure, and it is highly unlikely that this Gore would do what that Gore did. But that Gore did it and, thanks also to Ralph Nader without whom Bush never would have had a chance to steal the election by one vote, we and the whole world have had Bush for all of these years.
Friedman goes on: “[Gore] took the initiative to get the country and the world to focus on a common threat — climate change.” Gore has made a marvelous contribution in bringing the future threats to human existence that will result from global warming into the consciousness of many more people than before he became active on this issue. But, Mr. Gore to the contrary notwithstanding, global warming is not a moral issue, it is a political issue. And until the President from Big Oil came to power here, the world’s major leaders had already agreed to take the first major steps to begin to reduce the threat. But Bush pulled out of the Kyoto Protocols so fast that the world hardly had the time to exhale. Friedman is wrong again. Unless Gore and people like him get political, not P.R., power in this country once again, nothing will happen. And yes, both Florida and Wall Street will likely be under water in 50 years (although it will be easier to move Wall Street than Florida).
Finally, Friedman says: “Th[is] is what historians will note most about Mr. Bush’s tenure — the sheer wasted opportunity of it all. . . . Now Mr. Bush is a spent force . . . .” Wrong again, Tom. In fact any objective historians will note that in terms of his real agenda, George Bush has been the most successful American President, ever. (I have written a length on that subject elsewhere, see my columns on The Political Junkies.net under the headings “The Most Successful American President: George W. Bush, Parts 1-4). He has: established the basis for Permanent War in the Middle East, begun the systematic destruction of U.S. Constitutional Democracy, got the Federal government going well on its way to drowning in Grover Norquist’s proverbial bathtub, massively cut taxes for his wealthy friends and contributors, firmly established a Privatized Ministry of Propaganda, firmly established homophobia, misogyny, and racism as central to Republican politics, set back government regulation in general and regulation for environmental preservation in particular back several generations in the U.S., and, oh yes, put at least an 8-year hold on doing anything meaningful about Al Gore’s current favorite issue: dealing with the coming catastrophes due to global warming-fired climate change. And he will continue to go gung-ho on his agenda right up until Noon on Jan. 20, 2009. And if his boy Rudy (and boy is it now obvious that Rudy is his boy) is elected, which is a distinct possibility, why the agenda will just be continued by a much smarter man. Spent? Hardly.
At the end of his column, Friedman says “this is our crucible moment,” meaning dealing with climate change. It’s our crucible moment, alright, but dealing with climate change is only one part of it. If we don’t deal with George Bush, Dick Cheney, and the Georgite assault on the Rule of Law that began way back in the 2000 Florida election debacle, we are going to have many other things to worry about before we have to worry about the results of climate change.
Steven Jonas, MD, MPH is a Professor of Preventive Medicine at Stony Brook University (NY) a weekly Contributing Author for The Political Junkies (www.thepoliticaljunkies.net) and a Columnist for BuzzFlash.