So if GM is simply too big to fail, and the human cost of the GM corporate jet pilots and crew losing their livelihoods is a red line Congress refuses to cross, surely there are other Americans in precarious situations equally deserving of a Federal bailout. How about a down-on-his-luck newspaper columnist like Thomas Friedman?
Tom Friedman was once the most beloved columnist and writer to grace the editorial section of any newspaper. Just read the dust jacket of any of the many excellent books he’s written if you don’t believe me about how influential he is. His down to earth, colloquial writing style helped everyone understand what exactly this globalization thing was all about, and how great it was. No two countries that have McDonalds restaurants will ever go to war, remember that? That was Friedman!
Well, Mr. Friedman, despite his ability to see complex trends and simplify them for all of us to understand (the world is flat, that’s one of his things, too!), his exalted position on the editorial pages of the New York Times, and his serendipitous marriage to a billionaire heiress, has fallen on hard times in recent years. It probably began when Matt Drudge de-linked from his column, an ill portent if there ever was one. Mr. Friedman started out as a firm supporter of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, to the dismay of many of the center–left establishment crowd he hung with. Then, as he grew dismayed with the United States’ lack of progress in Iraq, he spent over three years writing nearly identical columns stating that “the next six months” are critical to the success or failure of the mission there (a period of time mockingly referred to as the Friedman Unit). The left, already somewhat upset with his free trade cheerleading, abandoned him after his support for the Iraq War.
He wrote a book about global warming to suck up to the establishment, but so far it hasn’t worked. People have even resorted to throwing pies at him. And now, adding insult to injury, his wife’s holding company has lost a fortune in the recent stock market downturn. How terribly ironic it seems, to find the bard of the flat world a victim of the global economy. A federal bailout of Thomas Friedman could be accomplished at minimal cost to the taxpayers, though. The Friedmans, despite getting walloped financially, still have plenty of money to go sustain them. What Tom needs is his prestige, so he can saunter proudly through the halls of the New York Times, testing out new buzz phrases (“Hey Maureen, the world is flat, what do you think?”) without fear of someone tossing a pie at him. Award Friedman the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
This award would restore his standing among the center left (but only if it is awarded to him after the inauguration; President Bush has given this medal to a bunch of total losers!); the added prestige of having an award winning columnist on the editorial page might even lead to an uptick in newspaper sales, another economic sector that is in about the same dismal situation as Detroit’s Big Three.
Tom Friedman is important to the United States of America. Friedman taught us all about Hama Rules, the Flat World, and that whole McDonald’s in two countries don’t go to war thing. He is simply too big a columnist to fail. If Friedman can no longer write his column due to diminished status, Maureen Dowd, and Bill Kristol are probably next. Krugman just won an award, so he should be good for awhile before he needs a bailout.
President-elect Obama should probably put a good word in to Matt Drudge to get his link restored on the Drudge Report; that would be a big help, too.