In Support of Tom Friedman

Fair readers, mark your calendars: this is the day I prove what a warm, fuzzy moderate I am. This is the day I agree with Thomas Friedman.

Because he’s such an impeccable centrist, Friedman opened Tuesday’s column by criticizing politicians in both parties:

There is something crazy about what is going on in our country today. Our fiscal condition continues on an unsustainable path, the European currency is heading for a crackup, the Arab world is in the midst of a crackup, unemployment is creeping upward and basically our two parties are telling us that they will not make the reforms that we know are necessary because it would involve too much pain and could imperil their chances of winning the presidency in 2012.

Now, if you’re wondering which of Tom’s ideas I agree with… we’ll get there. First I wanted to let Friedman’s own words illustrate that he has never heard of Congressman Paul Ryan, and is oblivious to unified Republican support for Ryan’s budget proposal. Strange things for a New York Times columnist to be in the dark about, given the fit Paul Krugman pitches at the mention of Ryan’s name.

Since friends have to be brutally honest in this flat, hot, crowded, crazy world, I’d also like to ask my new pal Tom whether this is what an unemployment rate “creeping upward” looks like

Enough senseless bickering over a few hundred billion dollars and a few million measly jobs! Let’s hear Tom’s solution to the partisan divide in America today.

That’s right. We need to do four things at once: spend, cut, tax and invest. And unless we do all four at once we’re not going to break out of our slow decline. But to do all four at once will require a new hybrid politics, which does not conform to the political agenda of either major party.

A new hybrid politics! Like all Friedman readers, I am on board for anything that is both new and hybrid!

Maybe it is just my friends, but I find more and more people completely disgusted by this situation and looking for a serious Third Party candidate who could run in 2012 and deliver the shock therapy to the corrupt, encrusted, two-party duopoly now running the show in America.

Such a Third Party would have a simple agenda: 1) Inject a short-term stimulus. 2) Enact Simpson-Bowles. 3) Shrink our presence in Afghanistan. 4) Raise automobile mileage standards. 5) Impose a gasoline tax to pay for a massive increase in government-supported scientific research and a carbon tax to pay for new infrastructure and stimulate clean-power innovation.

Yes, Thomas Friedman! Please convince the Democrats who take you seriously that America’s troubles could be solved by – to use your numbering:

  1. More failed deficit spending
  2. Modest entitlement cuts and not-so-modest tax hikes
  3. Something President Obama is already doing with widespread support, given our leaders’ disinterest in defining any sort of “mission” or “goals”
  4. Government-increased car prices
  5. Government-increased fuel prices for new government energy boondoggles

I give this plan a five out of five for getting America on the right track! Not because any of Friedman’s ideas are especially new or good, but because a monied far-left candidate hawking what Friedman suggests would pull away enough Obama supporters to ensure a Republican landslide in 2012. More than at any point in my brief memory (I wasn’t quite old enough to vote in 2000 – do the math) the GOP, led by Paul Ryan, is taking the side of freedom over the sort of European statism Thomas Friedman endorses.

In a way, it’s impressive that Friedman managed to write an entire article about the need for a Progressive third party without once mentioning the tea party movement. In another way, it’s sad that one of the left’s allegedly great thinkers is so invested in his own spunky originality that he can’t give credit where it’s due.

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