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.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

The Chicken Lays An Egg

likes to pretend he grapples with the big issues of our times. This from the man who spent forty minutes this morning whining about the fact that the elastic had gone out of his Hanes briefs.

"Why does it happen, Bettina? Why?"

Because you're grossly overweight?

Because all that canned cheese and Ritz crackers has to go somewhere?

No, no, he insisted. There was a cosmic reason.

It reminded me of his column last Friday, "The Big Question."

Headlines can be so misleading. But Thomas Friedman likes to believe everything about him is "big." Reality's never born that out.

So wanting to grab some of the attention that and have been getting, Thomas Friedman decides to pen his anti-war statement. Friedman being Friedman, he couldn't pull it off.

He sees war as a more orderly version of a global McDonalds. It's something to get the riff-raff motivated.

So the most he can do is offer a chicken v. egg scenario as he attempted to wonder whether Iraq was the way it was due to Saddam Hussein or whether that's just the way 'those people' are?

He never could figure out his 'riddle.' He lost interest in it as he chased down even more pedistrian phrases. For instance, "This is the season of decision."

Thomas Friedman really does picture himself as the coach in Hoosiers. I'm not sure what, if anything, that has to do with his fondness for hunting down fake nudes online of the male cast members of Saved By The Bell, but he really does see himself as the one who can deliver that inspirational speech right before the fourth quarter and get the 'team' to give it up for God and Glory.

That's why he acts like we're on the verge of seeing the war lose public support. Oh, seer Friedman, tell me next whether the paper arrived yesterday? Did the milk go sour this morning?

If there's anything larger than his ass, it's his sense of self-importance.

And I'm done trying to bring him down to earth. I think I'll just feed into it. Watch him humiliate himself even further. As though praising L. Paul Bremer's book isn't humiliating enough. He's practically Dexter Filkins, so deep is his denial, so self- righteous his finger pointing.

He did it Friday. His big anti-war column turned out to be more half-assed denial from the man who's next book should be called The Brain Is Dead. Till then, he keeps clucking because he just laid another egg.