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July 25, 2011


I agree with Brendan. Maybe it's time for the Times to replace Thomas Friedman as a regular columnist. He used write insightful articles about foreign affairs, but by now he may have run out of worthwhile things to say.

Friedman made a strange comment:

President Obama should dump the Democrats and run as an independent, which he is, at heart, anyway.

Obama had the most liberal voting record in Congress. He championed a Federal takeover of medical care and as well as enormous expansion of Federal spending and regulations. He kowtowed to union interests, even violating established laws or procedures to do so, e.g., stiffing the senior debt-holders in favor of the auto workers union and prohibiting Boeing's non-union aircraft plant in South Carolina. He's been pushing for cuts in defense spending and increases in taxes. I cannot imagine why Friedman thinks Obama is a closet moderate.

If a third party gets a significant number of votes next year, who will be hurt more, Dems or Reps? Recent history has gone both ways. In 1992 Ross Perot supposedly hurt George Bush more than Bill Clinton. In 2000, Nader may have cost Al Gore the election. I have no idea what impact Americans Elect will have in 2012, but it's something to consider for those in the election prediction business.

we have a moderate republican president & a tea party congress, & they want a third party between those?

Innocent by-standers should be aware that David in Cal, in claiming Obama had the most liberal voting record in Congress, is reciting a tired old attack-ad from the last presidential election. Obama has been, during his presidency, less liberal in his policies that Dick Nixon (this is from a progressive complaint-script, but also happens to be true), and was nowhere near as liberal in his voting record as, for instance, Bernie Sanders. Why people think they can claim Obama is a super-liberal without getting called on it is beyond me.

PolitiFact looked at the claim that Obama had the most liberal voting record in the Senate:

McCain's statement that Obama "has the most liberal voting record in the United States Senate," suggests it is a cumulative rating for all of Obama's time in the Senate. But in fact, it is true for only one rating for one year. Measurements for other years and by other groups show Obama is not the No. 1 liberal — in some cases, far from No. 1. So we find McCain's statement to be Barely True.

PolitiFact said that McCain's comment implied a "cumulative rating for all of Obama's time in the Senate". I agree. So, PolitiFact should have looked at Obama's "cumulative rating for all of his time in the Senate" to see how high he ranked on that basis. Why didn't the do this?

It's mathematically possible that someone who ranked #1, #10, and #16 in three separate years might have ranked #1 for the three years combined. Maybe PolitiFact was too innumerate to understand their error. Maybe they were too lazy to find the actual 3-year combined ranking. Or, perhaps bias deterred them from reporting Obama's 3-year cumulative liberal rating.

kharris's comparison with Bernie Sanders doesn't contradict McCain's claim, since Sanders was a Congressman rather than a Senator. Anyhow, Sanders is a self-described Socialist. It's not much of a defense to claim that Obama is less liberal than a Socialist.

Time to define another set of FUs (Friedman Units)? Perhaps this time could be measured in suggestions of viable "centrist" third parties per quarter or something similar? Just a thought.

After reading Friedmans column it's hard to take him seriously. This idea of an internet convention is so perfect when you write it down in your column but doomed to fail in reality.

Suppose this group does take off (which I doubt it will) in a short period of time it will either disintegrate with fights within itself or realign itself as an alternative left or right wing party. Political opinions are very strong and an organization of centrists is unstable, like balancing a battleship on a mountain. The ship either breaks up or slides down one of the faces.

Perhaps because Friedman cannot justify his POV with facts and logical argument, he resorts to insults. Today, he calls the Tea Parties "Hezbollah" and implies that they're insane:

If sane Republicans do not stand up to this Hezbollah faction in their midst, the Tea Party will take the G.O.P. on a suicide mission.

I agree with David in Cal. I'm not a fan of comparing Republicans (or Democrats) with terrorists. I know that Friedman is just using what he thinks is a creative metaphor, but the problem is these analogies encourage people like Markos Moulitsas who make the comparison and mean it literally.

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