Sunday, September 29, 2013

Tom Friedman and the "Moderates"

Pulitzer-prize winning liberal columnist Tom Friedman is at it again. Arguably, the personification of the New York Times, he argues today about the opening provided by the election of Hassan Rouhani in Iran and the apparent moderation newly displayed by the autocratic mullahs. Like his beloved USA, the Iranian government is being hammered by foreign entanglements, a poor economy and loss of opportunity for its growing youthful population. And thanks to President Barack Obama, we should now (or so Tom argues) reward this move to the center with a lifting of the economic embargo and an acceptance of their development of peaceful nuclear capabilities if they permit inspections of their enrichment activities. C'mon, providing materials for IED's that killed and maimed American soldiers in Iraq, denying the Holocaust and blaming it as the reason the West gave the Jews that Palestinian land, supporting terrorist regimes in Syria and Lebanon, shipping arms with their pals, the North Koreans, to Gaza - that's all in the past, that was done by the previous administration.

It's ludicrous, of course, but that's not the focus of my comments today. The argument that Friedman makes is naked hypocrisy and has no application when he views domestic politics through his rose colored liberal lenses. Like many on the left (and the voices and characterization have become more shrill by the day), he exhibits no similar sense of flexibility with those who might oppose progressive policies. Republicans are obstructionist, they have been hijacked by Tea Party lunatics and, let's be honest, there is an undercurrent of racism with those who stand in opposition to the President. But it's ironic because what's happening here is similar to what he describes in Iran and he is completely blind to it.

We, too, have been given the choice of politicians - in both parties - who are monochromatic in outlook. And some of us will leap at the chance to vote for the candidate in "gray", as Friedman describes it. Take Texas, for example. We had a choice between Ted Cruz and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst on the Republican side for Kay Bailey Hutchison's senate seat. Dewhurst had all the money, the support of the establishment; in other words, he would have become another "moderate" voice in the Republican caucus, protecting the status quo, following the rules of decorum, blending in. Texans rejected this notion of "Mr. Black, Mr. Black, Mr. Black" and swept the unlikely Ted Cruz into the Senate.

Does anyone believe that the "train wreck" of Obamacare would be getting the attention it is currently if Sen. Dewhurst was the junior senator from Texas? Would the Congress be demanding a one year delay in the individual mandate in order to secure a continuing resolution? Whatever your view of Obamacare, it is an undeniable fact that the President has provided discretionary, extralegal delays to groups of citizens, nullifying the notion of equal protection under the law. Ted Cruz was sent to the Senate to do exactly what he is doing: fighting the status quo, challenging the establishment and working to limit the role of government in people's lives.

How is it that we are called anarchists, terrorists, people with "bombs strapped to their bodies," according to Dan Pfeiffer, the President's communications director. How is it that Friedman has determined Rouhani's reasonableness because one his key aids happens to have a PhD from George Washington University? Why are he and the President so willing to lend the prestige of his office to a government that has murdered Americans, but sitting down with "extremists" in the opposition party is such an anathema? Tom Friedman is worried about the "quality of life in Iran"; what about the declining quality of life right here at home where millions have left the workforce and now - NOW - companies are reducing hours, dropping health coverage for part time employees, and even ending coverage for those in retirement?

Progressives need to stop the demonization of opponents and accept the fact that their signature piece of social justice legislation was passed without a single vote of support from the minority, in the dead of night, with incentives to persuade fence-sitting votes, and with legislative chicanery that required a simple majority instead of a two-thirds vote. And, please, can we stop giving the moderate Iranians a benefit of the doubt that we refuse our own citizens?

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