Left Behinds

The anti-andrewsullivan.com. Or, the Robin Hood (Maid Marian?) of bright pink Blogger blogs.

Friday, January 06, 2006

The Genius of Thomas Friedman, Pt. II

It was just a matter of time. In today's op-ed, handily linked here for those of us Times un-selected, Thomas Friedman turns the "Green is the New Red, White and Blue" rant on Charlie Rose that I blogged about a couple weeks ago into a column that is, at least, more concise, though barely less head-spinningly soundbitey.

Friedman is a little late to the party (wasn't the Rio Earth Summit in 1992? hasn't he had that perch at the Times for quite some time now?), but better late than never, I suppose. I don't quite see, though, how he can excoriate "petrolism" (as Tom describes it, and please note the emphasis on the following first two words, since for Tom the real joy in an op-ed is giving the world the gift of language: petrolism is "my term for the corrupting, antidemocratic governing practices – in oil states from Russia to Nigeria and Iran – that result from a long run of $60-a-barrel oil.") without even mentioning Bush/Cheney's own petrolism. Is it an accident that Cheney, Halliburton's bitch, poo-poos environmentalism as a "personal virtue" rather than a policy imperative?

Stylistically, my problem with this piece is the way he tries so, so hard to re-brand environmentalism as patriotic. It was slightly more restrained than on Charlie Rose, but it was still too much. OK, we get the point. Do you really have to use the term "girlie men"?

One can imagine Friedman in his upper east side lair having some post-The World is Flat breakthrough: "I can sell anything. If people sent that last piece of shit to the top of the bestseller list, it means they'll basically buy anything I write. What would be the hugest personal challenge for me, super-Tom, word wizard extraordinaire? Re-branding tired old hippy dippy environmentalism! I'll just throw a potpourri of metaphors and hackneyed propaganda into a blender, and voila! Pullitzer Prize, baby."

I won't even quibble over the details of his argument (Yeltsin lost the presidency because of rising oil prices?), because suffice to say, Tommy doesn't sweat the small stuff (a phrase I'm sure he loves). He's an ideas man. A visionary. A memetic engineer. A shaper of pop culture. God help us, people actually read his work voraciously, so if he's going to go Green, who am I to wonder about the way he weaves in neoliberal Middle East politics? At least someone is talking about the connection between Iraq, Halliburton, and our national energy policy. Oh, err...

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  • At 10:39 AM, Blogger Neda Cole said…

    what must endear thomas to his friends is that whole 'who cares about rebuilding a country we've devastated with the revenue from $60 barrels of oil (most of that $60 not staying in that country anyway)? what's most important is to lower that price per barrel so we can be green over here.'

    love it. global heart-warming at its best.

  • At 1:26 PM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…

    Heh, yeah, there were some pretty confusing imperialist politics woven into his version of "environmentalism."


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