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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thomas Friedman, "Go Big, Mr. Obama": More Flatulence From Friedman

Do you remember how, only four short months ago, Thomas Friedman was expressing his frustration with both Democrats and Republicans and advocating on behalf of a viable third party presidential candidate? In "Make Way for the Radical Center" (, Friedman wrote:

"If this kind of idiocy by elected officials sends you into a hair-pulling rage and leaves you wishing that we had more options today than our two-party system is putting forward — for instance, a party that would have offered a grand bargain on the deficit two years ago, not on the eve of a Treasury default — not only are you not alone, but help may be on the way.

. . . .

Write it down: Americans Elect. What did to books, what the blogosphere did to newspapers, what the iPod did to music, what did to pharmacies, Americans Elect plans to do to the two-party duopoly that has dominated American political life — remove the barriers to real competition, flatten the incumbents and let the people in. Watch out."

Well, Tom, I wrote it down, but now see that you are back to kissing Obama's derrière.

Today, Friedman ignores the 10-year sentence for corruption and extortion handed out yesterday to Tony Rezko, who in the past served as an important fund raiser for Obama and also arranged the sweetheart deal that enabled Obama to purchase his home in Chicago. Instead, in his New York Times op-ed "Go Big, Mr. Obama" (, Friedman croaks paeans to the president:

"I voted for Barack Obama, and I don’t want my money back. He’s never gotten the credit he deserves for bringing the economy he inherited back from the brink of a depression. He’s fought the war on terrorism in a smart and effective way. He’s making health care possible for millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions, and he saved the auto industry. This is big stuff."

Friedman claims that Obama made a mistake by "spurning his own deficit reduction commission, chaired by Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson," and concludes:

"Go big, Mr. President. You will win, and so will America."

So, whereas four months ago, Friedman was lambasting Obama for taking us to the brink of a Treasury default, now Friedman would have us know that Obama "brought us back from the brink of a depression" and merely needs to cut the deficit. That's some handy op-ed legerdemain for you!

But let's have a closer look at Obama's economic achievements, which have already involved some mighty big thinking, or spending, if you will. As pointedly observed by Peter Wehner of Commentary in his August 2011 Contentions opinion piece entitled "Answering Jonathan Alter's Challenge" (

"* Under Obama’s stewardship, we have lost 2.2 million jobs (and 900,000 full-time jobs in the last four months alone). He is now on track to have the worst jobs record of any president in the modern era.

* The unemployment rate stands at 9.1 percent v. 7.8 percent the month Obama took office.

* July marked the 30th consecutive month in which the unemployment rate was above the 8 percent level, the highest since the Great Depression.

* Since May 2009 — roughly 14 weeks into the Obama administration — the unemployment rate has been above 10 percent during three months, above 9 percent during 22 months, and above 8 percent during two months.

* Chronic unemployment is worse than during the Great Depression.

* The youth employment rate is at the lowest level since records were first kept in 1948.

* The share of the eligible population holding a job has declined to the lowest level since the early 1980s.

* The housing crisis is worse than in the Great Depression. (Home values are worth roughly one-third less than they were five years ago.)

* The rate of economic growth under Obama has been only slightly higher than the 1930s, the decade of the Great Depression. From the first quarter of 2010 through the first quarter of 2011, we experienced five consecutive quarters of slowing growth. America’s GDP for the second quarter of this year was a sickly 1.0 percent; in the first quarter, it was 0.4 percent.

* Fiscal year 2011 will mark the third straight year with deficits in excess of $1 trillion. Prior to the Obama presidency, we had never experienced a deficit in excess of $1 trillion.

* During the Obama presidency, America has increased its debt by $4 trillion.

. . . .

* America saw its credit rating downgraded for the first time in history under the Obama presidency.

* Consumer confidence has plunged to the lowest level since the Carter presidency.

* The number of people in the U.S. who are in poverty is on track for a record increase on President Obama’s watch, with the ranks of working-age poor approaching 1960s levels that led to the national war on poverty.

* A record number of Americans now rely on the federal government’s food stamps program. More than 44.5 million Americans received Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, a 12 percent increase from one year ago."


Regarding Friedman's contention that Obama has "fought the war on terrorism in a smart and effective way," I will limit myself to observing that Obama needlessly expanded American ground involvement in Afghanistan, which has also helped bring the US closer to bankruptcy. And although he has permitted the US military to engage in effective "targeted killing" of al-Qaeda leaders from the air (otherwise known as "unlawful assassination" when radicals from Hamas and Islamic Jihad are killed by Israel from above), he has ignored ongoing threats of terror against the US from Iran (see:, while his belated and impotent sanctions have enabled Tehran to proceed undeterred with its program to construct nuclear weapons.

"Go big, Mr. President"? How about if he just goes quietly and returns to writing books about himself after 2012?

1 comment:

  1. Could you please comment of Sarah Schulman's OP-ED in yesterday's NYT "Israel and 'Pinkwashing'" ?

    After reading her piece, one gets the impression that the next Gay pride parade will be held in Ramallah (or perhaps in Teheran)while the IDF will be manning the roadblocks to prevent Palestinians from attending.