I know, I know, I should simply ignore the over-privileged font of mediocrity-at-best, but it drives me absolutely bonkers when anybody, even a bland mid-right pundit like Joe Scarborough, takes him with a grain of seriousness. Sure enough, today I heard Morning Joe claim that Thomas Friedman was right on with his column yesterday about the rise of a third party.
In the marketplace of ideas, Friedman belongs in the clearance aisle with other damaged and defective goods.
Yesterday, along with the formulaic mention of high-level travel, Friedman came up with the gilded idiocy that because people are disgusted by Republican obstructionism and Democratic ineffectiveness, a third party will transform politics in 2012. Such a third party will “rip open this two party duopoly”.
Does any sober person really look at the current political landscape and see a duopoly? While the country club republicans are battling the tea-baggers and the meek democrats in the White House are battling with the “professional left”, can anybody other than Thomas “Suck On This” Friedman start counting the factions and stop at two?
Third parties in recent history have been the play things of the uber-wealthy. Ross Perot and Ralph Nader are millionaires who have sought to leverage their money into leadership. Having married into one of the 100 richest families in the United States, Friedman’s weekends may well include cocktail parties where some well-lit heir or heiress speaks of saving this country from the unwashed masses (while eliminating the inheritance tax, of course).
Frighteningly, Friedman envisions this chimerical third party as beholden to no constituents, and defining itself solely in opposition to American voters. Friedman’s third party “will talk about education reform, without worrying about offending unions; financial reform, without worrying about losing donations from Wall Street; corporate tax reductions to stimulate jobs, without worrying about offending the far left; energy and climate reform, without worrying about offending the far right and coal-state Democrats; and proper health care reform, without worrying about offending insurers and drug companies.”
I try to avoid the F-word in my writing, but does anybody else see one of the wealthiest men in the United States flirting with Fascism? Friedman has long approved of using this country’s military might to attack random countries as a death-star-like demonstration of force; now he is suggesting that this third party ignore the voices of Americans in seizing control of education, finance, energy, and health care. Worse, he claims that he is not simply engaging in onanistic fantasy – he claims to be in on the conspiracy – with insider knowledge of “at least two serious groups, one on the East Coast and one on the West Coast, developing ‘third parties’ to challenge our stagnating two-party duopoly that has been presiding over our nation’s steady incremental decline.”
I have long wondered why anybody pays attention to Thomas Friedman, given his abysmal record of misunderstanding and complete lack of a moral compass, but now I realize that he may deserve some attention, after all. He and his anti-democratic shadow groups could be a danger to our country.