Marcel Duchamp famously took a urinal, put it on a stand, and conned the world into believing it was art. In a similar, less-exalted vein, Thomas Friedman has a habit of typing random words on a keyboard, and conning assorted figures among the credentialed, uneducated elite into believing that his “thoughts” (if they even rise to that level) are somehow profound.
If one were trying to craft a parody of Friedman’s work, one could do little better than his own latest column in the New York Times. An excerpt:
I was at a conference in Bern, Switzerland, last week and struggling with my column. News of Russia’s proposal for Syria to surrender its poison gas was just breaking and changing every hour, forcing me to rewrite my column every hour. To clear my head, I went for a walk along the Aare River, on Schifflaube Street. Along the way, I found a small grocery shop and stopped to buy some nectarines. As I went to pay, I was looking down, fishing for my Swiss francs, and when I looked up at the cashier, I was taken aback: He had pink hair. A huge shock of neon pink hair — very Euro-punk from the ’90s. While he was ringing me up, a young woman walked by, and he blew her a kiss through the window — not a care in the world.
Observing all this joie de vivre, I thought to myself: “Wow, wouldn’t it be nice to be a Swiss? Maybe even to sport some pink hair?” Though I can’t say for sure, I got the feeling that the man with pink hair was not agonizing over the proper use of force against Bashar al-Assad.
Steven Hayward thinks that Friedman jumped the shark with this article, but we demur. Friedman jumped the shark a long, long time ago, about the time he mourned that the US was not a one-party state along the lines of communist China. One cannot even say that Friedman is in the fat-Elvis stage of his career. Rather, he is in the fat-Elvis-impersonator-performing-at-a-dilapidated-theme-park stage of his career. Sadly, no one at the New York Times has either the wit or wisdom to take away this imposter’s microphone before he embarrasses himself further.