Wednesday, July 25, 2012

How much of a fatuous gasbag IS Tom Friedman really?

Glenzilla (aka, Glenn Greenwald) posts about The value of Tom Friedman Salon 07/25/2012. (Hint: it's not the quality of Little Tommy Friedman's commentary.)

But for people who may have suspected that, despite his high credibility among the Very Serious People, Little Tommy might actually be just a fatuous gasbag, you may find this 45-minute New Zealand Radio interview with him from 10/22/2011 that Glenn links as laugh-inducing as I did.

Unlike in his endless appearances as a talking head on American TV, this New Zealand interviewer asks him some probing questions and challenges him in a way that anyone who wasn't used to be catered to like a pasha would have taken as a good opportunity to elaborate his arguments.

Little Tommy almost sputters in disbelief near the end of the interview when the interviewer asks him if he's rich. The background of that question is that he married into a plutocratic family, though as Peter Newcomb explained just after the 2008 stock market crash, they also had encountered some hard times just like the Small People (Thomas Friedman’s World Is Flat Broke VF Daily 11/12/2008):

... based on the bad news coming out of shopping-mall owner General Growth Properties [GGP], it is no wonder Friedman is feeling crankier than usual. That’s because the author’s wife, Ann (née Bucksbaum), is an heir to the General Growth fortune. In the past year, the couple — who live in an 11,400-square-foot mansion in Bethesda, Maryland — have watched helplessly as General Growth stock has fallen 99 percent, from a high of $51 to a recent 35 cents a share. The assorted Bucksbaum family trusts, once worth a combined $3.6 billion, are now worth less than $25 million.

But don't expect Friedman to go from Beirut to Jerusalem begging for money. The distinguished columnist (and former New Establishment member) is still said to get at least $50,000 per speaking engagement on top of the millions he makes writing best-sellers.
Now, it must seem shocking to star pundits in the US that anyone from the lower orders might ever suggest that personal wealth might shape their solidarity with the wealthiest of the wealthy in any way. But it's also the case that the interview only posed that question after he had repeatedly suggested that she was a Communist because she asked him mildly challenging questions.

Gosh, who would have guessed that the guy in this Charlie Rose interview in 2003 would have such a thin skin? Little Tommy's now-infamous "Suck.On.This." defense of the Iraq War starts around 2:30 and goes through about 5:40.

(You can also see the clip at: John Amato, Thomas Friedman and Iraq: Suck on This!: UPDATED with Video C&L 11/18/2007)

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