Thursday, April 16, 2020

Robot Chicken Frightener

I think about this bit from Tom Friedman a lot.
New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, interviewed on Tim Russert’s CNBC show (7/22/06), mentioned that he had been asked if there was any free trade agreement he would oppose. “I said, ‘No, absolutely not,’” Friedman related. “I said, ‘You know what, sir? I wrote a column supporting the CAFTA, the Caribbean Free Trade initiative. I didn’t even know what was in it. I just knew two words: free trade.” Friedman wasn’t kidding—as David Sirota pointed out (Huffington Post, 7/25/06), he wasn’t even aware that the “CA” in CAFTA stands for “Central American,” not “Caribbean.” Russert, for his part, didn’t even pose a follow-up question in response to a major media figure’s admission that he uses his influential position to promote policies that he doesn’t bother to actually learn anything about.
You could extend that to anything. Tom Friedman knows nothing about nothing anymore, if he ever did. Probably in 2006 he actually felt the need, occasionally, to have a researcher dish up something useful, and now he just spits out whatever random words dance across his brain mush. Not many people know this, but Tom Friedman and Donald Trump are pretty similar!

More generally, know-nothings for years embraced and marketed what we used to call "the Washington consensus" and now we call "neoliberal bullshit," mostly because all the cool (rich, powerful) kids did. They mostly didn't know or care what the actual policies were or what the consequences would be. The Economist said it was a good idea, must be true!

The good news is that we're probably past the era when anyone says, "wow, did you see that Tom Friedman column? he made some good points!" Well, not necessarily. Probably Andrea Mitchell still thinks that. Maybe even Morning Joseph.

Contemplating the mafia of the mediocre who have ruled our discourse for so long. Really Trump is them, except he doesn't know which salad fork to use and he doesn't understand that when you want to put much of the population into the wood chipper, you don't actually say you want to put much of the population into the wood chipper. Just babble some neoliberal gibberish.