Thursday, September 10, 2009

The fall of Tom Friedman

If you want to see how and why so many otherwise enlightened people have fallen for the snake oil of the Chinese Communist Party, look no further than the New York Times' Tom Friedman.

Friedman embarasses himself with an ode to the "enlightened" CCP in his latest column:
One-party autocracy certainly has its drawbacks. But when it is led by a reasonably enlightened group of people, as China is today, it can also have great advantages. That one party can just impose the politically difficult but critically important policies needed to move a society forward in the 21st century.

Nothing is more dangerous than claiming to know the future, and Friedman painfully proves it here. This is a regime that is still working its citizens to death - literally - in labor camps, still imprisoning and killing those who refuse to put the Party between themselves and their God, and still actively helping America's enemies abroad. None of it matters to Mr. Friedman, because so long as the regime dyes its bloody hands "green," it can become "a reasonably enlightened group of people."

Keep in mind, Mr. Friedman, and so many like him, know nothing of the real CCP. They have spent time in one or more of the Potemkin cities (Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, or Shenzhen), and fool themselves into thinking they've seen China.

Only this can explain the nonsense Friedman spews next:
It is not an accident that China is committed to overtaking us in electric cars, solar power, energy efficiency, batteries, nuclear power and wind power. China’s leaders understand that in a world of exploding populations and rising emerging-market middle classes, demand for clean power and energy efficiency is going to soar. Beijing wants to make sure that it owns that industry and is ordering the policies to do that, including boosting gasoline prices, from the top down.

Of course, this would come as a shock to Canada, which is watching these very same leaders make a massive move on Alberta's oil sands, which according to Friedman et al is not only a no-no because it is oil, but even worse, it's "dirty" oil.

What would a regime "committed to overtaking us in electric cars, solar power, energy efficiency, batteries, nuclear power and wind power" want with Albertan oil? Well, they'd want energy, and unlike Friedman, they understand that it takes more than pies in the sky to get it. Meanwhile, China outside of the Potemkin cities remains an ecological nightmare.

So what's driving this strange impulse by Friedman to embrace dictatorship. It is as simple as it is tragic: Friedman is not getting what he wants politically in America. Frustrated with the American people refusing to agree with him, he longs for the will to impose his views on them anyway.

It is the typical column of a frustrated "in" pundit - railing at the "out" party (in this case the Republicans) as doomed to irrelevance and powerful enough to stop the Democrats at the same time. The problem is, the GOP can't be both. Unable to control the agenda in the House or even slow it down in the Senate, Republicans can do nothing but dissent - unless the American people stand with them.

It is the same in any democracy - even the parliamentary ones where traditionally a majority government reigns supreme. If the opposition has the ear of the people (or vice versa) governing suddenly becomes difficult, if not impossible.

The proper, democratic thing to do is try to persuade the people that you are correct and they are not - but that requires effort, effort "in" parties usually don't have after some years in power. That Friedman is already exhausted after mere months of the Obama Administration is tellng about its weakness.

That said, different people resort to different methods. President Bush, for all his faults, made a dramatic pitch to the American people on the "surge" in Iraq. The people were surprised, and more than a little apprehensive, but they agreed to give it a chance, with very good results.

President Obama may face a similar choice in Afghanistan. That one of the capital's leading columnistst is now longing for the power to imprision dissidents is a sign of trouble.

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