The title of this post is extreme – and for good reason. Matt Taibbi’s review of Thomas Friedman’s new book ‘Hot, Flat and Crowded’ is absolutely devastating. It’s so funny, I laughed out loud on several occasions and had to read it twice. Here’s an excerpt:
Just when you begin to lose faith in America’s ability to
fall for absolutely anything—just when you begin to think we Americans
as a race might finally outgrow the lovable credulousness that leads us
to fork over our credit card numbers to every half-baked TV pitchman
hawking a magic dick-enlarging pill, or a way to make millions on the
Internet while sitting at home and pounding doughnuts— along comes
Thomas Friedman, porn-stached resident of a positively obscene 114,000
square foot suburban Maryland mega-monstro-mansion and husband to the
heir of one of the largest shopping-mall chains in the world,
reinventing himself as an oracle of anti-consumerist conservationism.
The column just gets funnier as Taibbi deconstructs Friedman’s image as a national talking head, reducing him to a cartoon character, devoid of any real substance:
The World is Flat,
a book borne of Friedman’s stirring experience of seeing IBM sign in the distance while golfing in Bangalore,
Hot,Flat and Crowded
a book whose great insights come when Friedman golfs (on global warming
allowing him more winter golf days:“I will still take advantage of
it—but I no longer think of it as something I got for free”), looks at
Burger King signs (upon seeing a “nightmarish neon blur” of KFC, BK and
McDonald’s signs in Texas, he realizes: “We’re on a fool’s errand”),
and reads bumper stickers (the “Osama Loves your SUV” sticker he read
turns into the thesis of his “Fill ‘er up with Dictators” chapter).
This is Friedman’s life: He flies around the world, eats pricey lunches
with other rich people and draws conclusions about the future of
humanity by looking out his hotel window and counting the Applebee’s
I’d like to see a response from Friedman, but I doubt he’d want to go head to head with Taibbi – a task that few people have done with good results.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.