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Planet America.

Friedman is arguably the prime example of establishment liberal thinking. From his putatively "centrist" perch at the New York Times Froegin Affairs Columinst desk, Friedman's views are not at all out of the establishment liberal mainstream (and, by extension, the critical mass of the Democratic party).

Socially liberal, devil take the hindmost on trade (recall Clinton and friends on NAFTA), pro-Israel to a fault, supporter for American imperialism under the liberal veneer of "do-goodism" in Serbia and Iraq, there's really nothing which distinguishes him from other wealthy American "liberals" than the fact that his prose is exceptionally poor and his logic quite often extremely crappy.

I'd put him somewhere between Kerry and Lieberman on the political spectrum...

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Thu Jan 11th, 2007 at 03:01:47 PM EST
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the best coverage of Friedman anywhere is over at the exile (http://www.exile.ru). They were deconstructing him back in 1998 before it became fashionable. Go look in the archives, it's quite revealing.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 11th, 2007 at 03:16:45 PM EST
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Thanks for the link!

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill
by r------ on Thu Jan 11th, 2007 at 03:55:21 PM EST
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Somehow I never heard about this site. The current feature -- 2006: The Year Russia Schooled The West -- is fascinating and brilliantly written. I haven't run across a perspective like that for quite some time. Long live the Internets.

A bomb, H bomb, Minuteman / The names get more attractive / The decisions are made by NATO / The press call it British opinion -- The Three Johns
by Alexander on Thu Jan 11th, 2007 at 06:26:55 PM EST
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Mmmm, I dunno, I'm still not getting "liberal" out of any of that, even in an American context.  The word that keeps popping up is "centrist," which in the US is considerably right of center on the European scale.

Honestly, I haven't read Friedman (without being forced to) for years.  In this part of the world (supposedly the region he's the "expert on, right?) he's been long discredited, and is considered largely a bigot and a bully.

Even in the American context, none of the Democrats you identify describe themselves as "liberal," and they're called "liberal" only by Republicans.  I would myself put Friedman to the right of Lieberman... but like I said, I haven't been paying attention.  When I can help it.

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Thu Jan 11th, 2007 at 04:12:40 PM EST
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That said, the Friedman issue is obviously tangential to your diary, which I did enjoy.
by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Thu Jan 11th, 2007 at 04:17:06 PM EST
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I suppose if you accept that Clinton is not a liberal, but instead a centrist, I take your point.

This being said, I hear a lot of self-described "liberals" expressing reverence both for Clinton and his wife, neither of whose political views are all that different from the same Tom Friedman with whom they share cocktails at Davos...

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Thu Jan 11th, 2007 at 06:05:04 PM EST
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Well, the conventional description of Clinton's "success" was that he dragged the Democratic Party to the center, so yeah, that's what I'd call him.
by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Thu Jan 11th, 2007 at 06:53:10 PM EST
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I don't at all dispute that. I was in the US for part of that.

What I point out is that while Clinton was a "centrist" (I'd say a right-winger myself, but that's me), this doesn't stop the lion's share of self-professed "liberals" from lionizing both him and his wife.

To be sure, there are exceptions to this. But we're all cranks, dontcha know?

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Thu Jan 11th, 2007 at 06:56:09 PM EST
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Until the impeachment got well under way, American liberals and progressives were vociferous in their criticism of Clinton - for NAFTA, for ending "welfare," for triangulation, for selling out environmentalists, for proposing policies that hurt children.  For example, Marian Wright Edelman of The Children's Defense Fund is a liberal - and she excoriated Clinton.  

Similarly, non-liberal "centrists" like the New Republic (which we liberals call corporatist or conservative Dems), harshly criticized Dean in 2003 for rejecting Clinton's attack on liberalism.
http://www.tnr.com/doc.mhtml?i=20031229&s=lizza122903

Calling Clinton "liberal" is both historically and ideologically inaccurate.  He illustrates PRECISELY the kind of muddy thinking you correctly criticize.  My point is simple: legions of activists and writers have pointed this out consistently.  The fact that they are ignored by American elites does not make them less real.  To call Clinton - or the New York Times - "liberal" is to repeat Republican talking points.  

Cui bono?

by cambridgemac on Thu Jan 11th, 2007 at 08:46:14 PM EST
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