NYT columnist Tom Friedman had an off-the-record lunch with President Biden a week ago today. (Sounds like bad staff work to me.) Friedman damned Biden with faint praise by comparing his ability to pull together international support to GHWB’s. But Friedman came away from lunch fearful that we’re a Friedman Unit away from the abyss because of divisions at home:
Biden didn’t say it in so many words, but he didn’t have to. I could hear it between the lines: He’s worried that while he has reunited the West, he may not be able to reunite America.
It’s a legit fear. But then Friedman says this:
But with every passing day, every mass shooting, every racist dog whistle, every defund-the-police initiative, every nation-sundering Supreme Court ruling, every speaker run off a campus, every bogus claim of election fraud, I wonder if he can bring us back together. I wonder if it’s too late.
Emphasis mine to highlight the stupidity of the both-sides framing. On one side we have the Republican Party, which has morphed into an authoritarian cult whose powerful elected officials openly reject democracy, suppress votes, ban books, persecute vulnerable citizens, censor and/or punish protected speech, etc.
On the other, a party whose leaders explicitly rejected a poorly worded slogan that failed to gain traction beyond a handful of activists and backbenchers two years ago, and speaker controversies on college campuses. Friedman and other unfortunately influential elites are still equating these things, and that’s a big problem!
To defeat Trumpism we need only, say, 10 percent of Republicans to abandon their party and join with a center-left Biden, which is what he was elected to be and still is at heart. But we may not be able to get even 1 percent of Republicans to shift if far-left Democrats are seen as defining the party’s future.
Emphasis mine because that’s where Friedman tells on himself, with that passive language. Whose job is it to inform Americans about their society and government, to let them know what forces are driving and responding to events? A category that includes Friedman.
CPAC is in Hungary this year. Republicans are celebrating the demise of Hungarian democracy with the autocrat who smothered it, Viktor Orbán, and he, their guest of honor, told Republicans how to finish smothering democracy here in the U.S.
But on the other hand, 1) Ilhan Omar, and 2) some Yale students were rude to a Federalist Society speaker.
If the republic is saved, it will be in spite of people like Friedman, who, unfortunately, get invited to the White House for lunch.