Saturday, December 25, 2004

Thomas Friedman's Missed Opportunity

There's a commonly repeated phrase that has, up to Arafat's death, effectively captured the essence of the Palestinian's plight:

"they never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity."

That same phrase can be accurately applied to Thomas Friedman, columnist for the New York Times, in his writings this past year about the Mideast - he never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity to write a completely objective article without an obligatory Bush-bash.

And what's so maddening is that he so frequently gets most of his columns right. Referring to the recent pictures of Iraqi gunmen executing election workers in broad daylight in downtown Baghdad, Friedman accurately writes in his latest column:

Do not be fooled into thinking that the Iraqi gunmen in this
picture are really defending their country and have no alternative. The
Sunni-Baathist minority that ruled Iraq for so many years has been invited,
indeed begged, to join in this election and to share in the design and wealth of
post-Saddam Iraq. . .(this war is about) people who want to hold a free and fair
election to determine their own future, opposed by a virulent nihilistic
minority that wants to prevent that. That is all that the insurgents stand for.

Friedman continues:

They are murdering Iraqis every day for the sole purpose of
preventing them from exercising that thing so many on the political left and so
many Europeans have demanded for the Palestinians: "the right of

We may lose because most Europeans, having been made stupid by
their own weakness, would rather see America fail in Iraq than lift a finger for free and fair elections there.

All dead on, and worthy of our full reading. But he can't miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. He has to race back to partisan politics:

We may lose because of the wrong way that Donald Rumsfeld has
managed this war and the cynical manner in which Dick Cheney, George W. Bush and
- with some honorable exceptions - the whole Republican right have tolerated it.
Many conservatives would rather fail in Iraq than give liberals the satisfaction
of seeing Rumsfeld sacked.

Now Bush and his administration are fair game for criticism as it relates to the War on Terror, but Friedman's obsessions with the past election always blunt the deeper truths within his writing.

Maybe next time he can just miss an opportunity.