I think I've figured out why Thomas Friedman gets what little respect he does--he's up against Maureen Dowd on Wednesdays, and when that's your competition, it's not difficult to look brilliant. You only have to be slightly wrong to pull it off.
His column this week actually begins reasonably well--he's in China for the Olympics, and he's marveling at how technologically advanced China has become in the last seven years...oh wait, did I say seven years? 9/11 sighting dead ahead Captain!
Seven years ... Seven years ... Oh, that’s right. China was awarded these Olympic Games on July 13, 2001 — just two months before 9/11.Well, we haven't really been building better versions of that stuff, except maybe for the pilotless drones. But like Blutarski near the end of "Animal House," Friedman's on a roll, so let's just see where he goes with this.
As I sat in my seat at the Bird’s Nest, watching thousands of Chinese dancers, drummers, singers and acrobats on stilts perform their magic at the closing ceremony, I couldn’t help but reflect on how China and America have spent the last seven years: China has been preparing for the Olympics; we’ve been preparing for Al Qaeda. They’ve been building better stadiums, subways, airports, roads and parks. And we’ve been building better metal detectors, armored Humvees and pilotless drones.
I realize the differences: We were attacked on 9/11; they were not. We have real enemies; theirs are small and mostly domestic. We had to respond to 9/11 at least by eliminating the Al Qaeda base in Afghanistan and investing in tighter homeland security. They could avoid foreign entanglements. Trying to build democracy in Iraq, though, which I supported, was a war of choice and is unlikely to ever produce anything equal to its huge price tag.So let me get this straight--the reason we're now behind China technologically is because of 9/11. The ridiculous Bush tax and service cuts that had us run deficits while simultaneously failing to improve our infrastructure had nothing to do with it. The privatization of the American government with little to no accountability or oversight by the Republican Congress had nothing to do with it. The fact that we cut taxes while fighting what you now acknowledge was a war of choice had nothing to do with it. The fact that we have encouraged American companies to ship manufacturing jobs to China so we could reward the investor class with higher stock prices while the working and middle classes suffered had nothing to do with it.
I don't think so. Friedman, suck on this.