Monday, June 14, 2010

The Mansion With No Mirrors

According to the large-type teaser in the print edition, Tommy's latest column is about "Looking in the mirror after the oil spill."

Wowee! Looking in the mirror? Which mirror? The Iraq mirror? The Israel mirror? The free trade is my god mirror? And is just a coincidence that America's most mirror-adverse pundit has finally decided to to embark on a little self-reflection just weeks after the launch of Fire Tom Friedman? All those visits to FTF from Bethesda -- I just knew it!
My friend, Mark Mykleby, who works in the Pentagon, shared with me this personal letter to the editor he got published last week in his hometown paper, The Beaufort Gazette in South Carolina. It is the best reaction I’ve seen to the BP oil spill.
OK. I guess it wasn't me that got Tommy got to the mirror. Ego a little bruised, but what's important is that someone did. Huzzah for Mark Mykleby! Can't wait to read this letter:
“I’d like to join in on the blame game that has come to define our national approach to the ongoing environmental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. This isn’t BP’s or Transocean’s fault. It’s not the government’s fault. It’s my fault. I’m the one to blame and I’m sorry. It’s my fault because I haven’t digested the world’s in-your-face hints that maybe I ought to think about the future and change the unsustainable way I live my life. If the geopolitical, economic, and technological shifts of the 1990s didn’t do it; if the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 didn’t do it; if the current economic crisis didn’t do it; perhaps this oil spill will be the catalyst for me, as a citizen, to wean myself off of my petroleum-based lifestyle. ‘Citizen’ is the key word. It’s what we do as individuals that count. For those on the left, government regulation will not solve this problem. Government’s role should be to create an environment of opportunity that taps into the innovation and entrepreneurialism that define us as Americans. For those on the right, if you want less government and taxes, then decide what you’ll give up and what you’ll contribute. Here’s the bottom line: If we want to end our oil addiction, we, as citizens, need to pony up: bike to work, plant a garden, do something. So again, the oil spill is my fault. I’m sorry. I haven’t done my part. Now I have to convince my wife to give up her S.U.V. Mark Mykleby.”
This is the best reaction to the BP oil spill Tommy read? I guess that's technically true since it's the only one he's read besides his own. Still, it's a piece of crap letter. Assigning equal blame to those who want to "Drill, Baby, Drill" and those who want to regulate oil companies? Making individual lifestyle changes not government policy the key to ending our addiction to oil? ("How dare you tax my carbon - I changed my light bulb!") And what sacrifice is the great Mark Mykelby going to make? He's going to convince his wife to give up her car.

(Which gives me a great idea for a sitcom. Global warming has gotten so bad that every time someone does something environmentally wasteful, catastrophe ensues. Yet, women can't stop shopping! Mark Mykelby to wife: "Honey, they just said on the radio that Bangladesh is entirely under water. Is there something you want you tell me?" Mrs. M., standing in front of a gleaming new Lincoln Navigator, "No." Cue laugh track!)

Quit your nitpicking and sitcom writing, Fire Tom Friedman. Who cares about the substance of the letter? Thomas L. Friedman is headed to the mirror. Tom Friedman, the great environmentalist, is finally going to deal with the fact that he lives here:
Hot, Flat, and Crowded Manor
And while I would prefer a mea culpa on Iraq or Palestine, this is an important start. So lay it on me:
I think Mykleby’s letter gets at something very important: We cannot fix what ails America unless we look honestly at our own roles in creating our own problems.
Amen, brother Tommy. Tell us how you sinned!
We — both parties — created an awful set of incentives that encouraged our best students to go to Wall Street to create crazy financial instruments instead of to Silicon Valley to create new products that improve people’s lives.
Uh-oh. This isn't a very promising start. Good confessions start with I, not we. And what's with the rambling nonsense about the boys of Goldman being victims? But maybe Tommy's nervous and this is a little throat clearing before we get to the mansion, the golf, the countless flights to the Middle East and China, the family fortune made in the not-so-green shopping mall business.
We — both parties — created massive tax incentives and cheap money to make home mortgages available to people who really didn’t have the means to sustain them.
OK, Friedman. We're going to ask you one more time. Your friend Mark, he already confessed he hasn't been doing his part. What about you? Did your lifestyle contribute to the oil spill?
And we — both parties — sent BP out in the gulf to get us as much oil as possible at the cheapest price.

As Pogo would say, we have met the enemy and he is us.
Ladies and gentleman, Tommy has confessed! . . . to collective guilt. He is guilty in the sense that we are a little guilty. Equally. Angry bloggers who live with their families in 2.5 bedroom apartments and smug pundits who live in houses the size of the Gaza Stripe. People who drive to low-paying jobs because they have no other way to get there and rich blowhards who fly around the world giving lectures that they could have crapped out on Skype.

Thomas L. Friedman, you are America. You promote your brand and interests at all costs, including other people's deaths. You've devoured everything in sight -- and now you want everyone who didn't get a piece of the pie to tighten their belt because it is threatening your lifestyle. You preach endlessly about others' flaws without ever pausing to consider whether you live in a glass mansion. And you can't understand why everyone hates you.

Fire Tom Friedman.


  1. Good idea, make a personal attack on someone who in this case is trying to communicate a much needed message. Grow up.

  2. It shouldn't be to hard to look into the mirror when you live in Versailles.

    Where are those solar panels he talked about in his book?

  3. Great article, great blog....Friedman is the ultimate propagandist, way more insidious than overt ideologues like William Kristol, such a piece of shit. He embodies perfectly the ostensibly 'liberal' approach of the New York Times, and the press in general-free market fundamentalism under the guise of centrist pragmatism, neocon state terror masquerading as middle of the road consensus....Never mind the fact that the policies he advocates are explicitly imperialist and straight out of the Milton Friedman neoliberal playbook, he says it in a way that kind of/sort of sounds rational, in a mind numbing, dumbed down style of prose that should have a bouncing ball moving over it. I genuinely hope that he fucking dies....Great job.