Thursday, March 09, 2006

Club Membership: One


That's what I told my husband Thomas Friedman when he showed me his latest column ("Letting India in the Club?") before he turned it in. I was sure he'd come off like the biggest idiot on the op-ed page and he did.

Though Maureen Dowd gave him a close run with her "Nipping and Tucking on Both Coasts." Comparing plastic surgery to lying a nation into war was one of her loonier moments. Fortunately for her, Thomas Friedman tried for sincerity which is always wackier than when he's trying to coin phrases.

He can't help it, he's just not concerned with or about anyone but himself. Just this morning, on our way out, a woman called, "Hold the elevator, Mr. Friedman."

While we waited for her to join us, Thomas Friedman was pursing his lips and mouthing "Hold the elevator." Then he started looking at his watch and muttering, "What is her problem! How long is this going to take!"

When the woman joined us, she smiled and Thomas Friedman mocked her behind her back. When we got to the first floor, Thomas Friedman could no longer hide his superior attitude.

"Okay, that's it, move your butt, old lady! Some of us have lives to live!"

I apologized to the woman and, on the street after, scolded Thomas Friedman for yelling, "She's eighty-two and uses a walker."

"So she should use it! It's Thursday! The only day Soon-yi doesn't work at Dollar China! Hurry up! We'll miss the won ton soup!"

"Liang!" I corrected. "Thomas Friedman, you are so anti-social."

"Nonsense," Thomas Friedman replied, "I love people."

"Gail Collins?"

"I said people," Thomas Friedman spat out increasing his stride and pushing two people out of the way as he ran to the door.

After helping the blind man and the nun up from the sidewalk, and explaining to the nun that she hadn't been shoved by John Bolton, I walked over to Thomas Friedman and pointed out that they didn't unlock the front door for five more minutes.

"Torture!" Thomas Friedman yelped banging on the door and hopping from foot to foot as though he needed to visit the little boy's room.

"Won ton soup! Won ton! Won ton! Won ton!" he hollered.

And that's the Thomas Friedman that wrote Wednesday's column.

He wants what he wants, when he wants it and how he wants it. Which is why he can "applaud President Bush's desire" after so recently slamming him. It's why he can write that India is a "beacon of tolerance and stability" one sentence after nothing, in passing, "today's bombings in India." Why he can see nuclear as a good thing. Why he can see it as a "club."

He'd told himself no more Ritz crackers and canned cheese until he finished his column. So it was rush-rush, "Let them have this, but not . . . This is good, that is bad . . ." while all he was wanting was to stick the can of cheese in his mouth and inhale.

The pages weren't even done spitting out of the ink jet printer before he was wolfing down his cheese and crackers.

Mouth full, he asked me, "So what do you think?"

Before I could answer, he was tossing the can in the trash and asking, "More cheese?"

Thomas Friedman's focus is always Thomas Friedman.

That's why he feigns interest in other nations. He can reduce entire people to cab drivers and "local color" -- when he bothers to mention them at all. It's much easier to "address issues" when you can render the people invisible. So he poses as the global Robin Leach, dashing here and there, instead of really addressing an issue, he toys with it as only someone truly disinterested in the world around him can. Nepal? It matters about as much to him as the Senate's "cure" for the NSA spying.