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December 7, 2000
Thomas Friedman Borks Bush
By Ahmed Amr.

The New York Times likes to fling about the word 'reckless' when dealing with the current election, which would have been over and done with had it not been for Al Gore's media minions. Just last week they accused Bush and the GOP of being reckless in acting presidential. Now, in another editorial titled "The Election Road Narrows' (NYT 5/12/2000), the Times warns against 'reckless actions by the Florida Legislature'. This paper has backed Gore's every insane self-serving attempt to overturn the results of the election. It is the only major paper in the country which, even today, still markets Gore as a viable candidate. It now warns against 'reckless actions by the Florida Legislature'. Like Gore, the New York times would like this whole election to be decided by the Florida Supreme Court, the same court that was just overruled by the Supreme court. Excuse me, this election has already been decided.

Perhaps the only corner of the nation where Gore still retains a morsel of respectability is the editorial boardroom at the New York Times. This election season, their 'Foreign Affairs' columnist, Thomas Friedman, spent half his time doing advocacy work for Israel and the rest of his sorry column doing battle for the obnoxious Al Gore. Friedman makes a pretense of hailing the legitimacy of Bush's narrow victory and then proceeds to pull the rug from under the next President of the United States.

In a column titled "Bork, Bush And Bubba" (NYT, 12/5/2000) Friedman gives this advice to the Democrats: "It's critical that Democrats don't Bork Bush - That is, they don't try to morally impeach him before he even starts". That bit of drivel is followed by this little snivel to the Republicans: "they also need to ask themselves what face of America they see. Is it the multi-ethnic multi-racial face of their Philadelphia convention? Or is it the Bush old-boy network and corporate boardroom that was utterly indifferent to the fact that too many African-Americans, who wanted to be part of this election, never got to vote in Florida - either because of obstacles put in their way or because their voting equipment, like their schools, was dilapidated". He continues "We can't afford a president with tarnished legitimacy, and niether can the world." Well, if Friedman and the New York Times would drop the tar brush, perhaps we could move on.

Parading the African-American community for a New York minute to slander every Republican in the land is just bad form. Both parties play the race card when they find it convenient. In the case of Arab-Americans, they both play the race-bashing card. If Friedman and the American Jewish community are really fellow travelers in the struggle for liberty and dignity, why is it that the Senate has eleven Jewish Senators and none from the Latino and African-American community? Why does the Senate not have twenty or thirty Senators from the 'multi-ethnic' community that Friedman pretends to champion. African Americans and Latinos need a permanent presence in the Senate so that they have cards to deal no matter who gets elected President.

Friedman is a champion at advocating everything Israeli. Like me, he is an ethnic-American. He wants the American government to listen to his take on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. I need to be heard on that subject too. If only because you can't get a straight story from the New York Times. Both Bush and Friedman had better be ready for the full consultation of Arab-Americans in constructing a new Middle East Foreign policy that is not based on ethnic bias or religious bigotry. One way Bush can bring this country together is to bring Arab-Americans out of political quarantine. Lets develop a foreign policy that all Americans can be proud of, including Jews and Arab-Americans.

This much is clear, the boys at the New York Times are not happy about losing the election to Bush. Friedman and company were counting on Gore to do so much for Israel. So it is no surprise that Friedman gets a little snippy these days. Check this bit of vitriolic against Bush "Excuse me, but we don't do that in this country. Ramming through an election victory no matter what the vote count is what Raul Castro does for his brother Fidel in Cuba. Not here. Shame on the Bush brothers for even contemplating this".

Once again, the reader is asked to ignore the inferior quality of the writing. I was just quoting the New York Times. Friedman always fancies himself playing some important role in the life of the Republic, this time me thinks its Mark Anthony. As the 'Foreign Affairs' columnist he puts in his dime's worth of advice to Bush: "Democracy is in trouble in more places today than at any time since the fall of the Berlin Wall. Look around. Democracy is faltering in all the former Soviet republics, Romania, Indonesia, Nigeria, the Czech Republic, South Africa, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, Pakistan, Venezuela, Taiwan, Haiti, Serbia and the Philippines". Then he proceeds to lambast Bush for the "vapid foreign policy he articulated during the campaign".

Lets look at this tad of folk wisdom from the 'Foreign Affairs' guru at the vaunted New York Times. Lets look around, as Friedman suggests. This is what I see: the prospects for democracy in Peru have not looked better since Fujimori took off for Japan. On Page A10 of the New York Times, there is the story of an ecstatic Israeli-born Baruch Ivcher, returning to Peru to reclaim his confiscated television network, which dared to criticize Fujimori. There are no problems with democracy in the Czech Republic. Serbia is emerging from the reign of a totalitarian Milosovic. Indonesia was under the dictatorship of Suharto when the Berlin Wall fell. Taiwan's democracy is in no danger. A high crime rate in South Africa should not be confused with the erosion of democracy. Venezuela has the most popular president in years. And the Philippines will survive the antics of its playboy president.

So much for Friedman's 'vapid foreign policy'. His advice is not only short and trivial, it is also at least half-wrong. You can get the same result by throwing a dart at a map of the world. Friedman, having lost Gore, just wants to be heard in the Bush administration as an expert on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. On that subject, his qualifications amount to the reading 'Exodus' and writing a couple of hundred book reports on that bit of fiction.

It is reckless of any mass circulation daily paper, even a provincial ethnic paper, to have an intellectual midget pen its 'Foreign Affairs' column. Friedman appears not to bother reading his own paper. He should certainly not presume to lecture the government of the United States on policy. Until the New York Times moves Friedman to the advertising department where he belongs, Bubba Friedman should not Bork Bush.


  January 3, 2001