Thursday, January 03, 2008

New York Times Op-Ed Page

I just read Roger Cohen’s new op-ed in the New York Times. Apparently, he spent New Years in Brazil (he had great things to say about it- like everybody who visits but has never lived there), where he resolved to act more Brazilian; which is to say, not be angry at the existence of other human beings. Among other trifles that a normal person wouldn’t spend any time thinking about, he pledged to not get annoyed when he hears people say “wait on” when they mean “wait for.”

He also vowed not to be irked by "globalized brunch" (um, what the fuck is that?), "offshore wind turbines" (???) or "Brian Williams’s bristling chest."

Of all the terrible things in this world, these are things that really get your blood boiling, Roger? Do you have some latent homosexual thing with Brian Williams's chest? You’re at the top of your profession. You write for the New York Times, one of the most prestigious papers in the world. Moreover, you're an op-ed columnist. That means you get paid big bucks to sit on your derrière and share your opinions. Success isn’t everything but why do you seem like such a miserable person?

In related news, on yesterday’s Op-Ed page I read these fateful words: Thomas L. Friedman is on book leave.


Now, I have great respect for Tom as a reporter (yes, I’ve been reading his columns for so long I can use his nickname). His work covering Lebanon and Israel in the 80’s is jaw dropping and his first book, From Beirut to Jerusalem, although dated, is a very informative primer on the Middle East.

From his past columns I can only guess he’s jumping on the Al Gore wagon and his upcoming book will be about Environmentalism/the Green Movement. If Gore won a Nobel Peace Prize for making a documentary, I’m sure Tom should have a shot at the prize for writing a book, too.

If my sarcasm in the last paragraph wasn’t sufficient, I’ll go into detail about why I no longer rate Tom. Firstly, His writing style and royally-fucking-up of similes and metaphors leaves a bad after-taste. But he’s also a globalization/free market evangelical. For Tom, economic globalization is an unalloyed positive. There is no nuance or any caveats. He travels the globe, lounges at five star hotels and chats with CEOs, then writes about how great globalization is for the world.

Then there’s Iraq. He was a big proponent of the War during the months leading up to the invasion, and swayed many people who were on the fence over to the pro-War side. I’m not a far left liberal (anymore), but the war was a very bad idea and in Beirut to Jerusalem it would seem he would argue against it (especially because, even before the 2003 invasion, he admitted in his columns that he thought Saddam probably didn’t have WMD). He would reason that we shouldn’t go into Baghdad for the same reasons neither we nor Israel should have gone into Beirut.

Some how that logic went out the window. I have never seen anybody raise this issue with him (whether on TV or in print), but I suppose he would use the standard "September 11 changed everything" response. This is an evasive answer, no one ever specifies what exactly 9/11 changed. Many times the more broadly people speak, the less they're actually saying.

For a hilarious article about Tom by Matt Taibbi, click here.

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