It looks like Tom Friedman has a new book to sell, so naturally that meant that Howard Kurtz just had to give him two full segments on this weekend's Reliable Sources to sell the CNN viewers on some more of his Third Way nonsense that he and a bunch
August 22, 2011

It looks like Tom Friedman has a new book to sell, so naturally that meant that Howard Kurtz just had to give him two full segments on this weekend's Reliable Sources to sell the CNN viewers on some more of his Third Way nonsense that he and a bunch of Republicans and corporate Democrats are trying to push now that they realize the right wing of the Republican Party has taken them over to the point that they rightfully should find themselves going the way of the Know Nothings once the better part of the electorate finally starts waking up to just how extreme their ideology is.

Never mind the fact that there's barely a bit of difference between what these so-called "tea party" members that are nothing but the extreme right wing of the Republican base trying to re-brand themselves and the people that both Kurtz and Friedman identify as being somehow "moderates" here.

I'll give Friedman a small amount of credit for finally admitting that it is just one party we've got a problem with right now that's obstructing everything that President Obama has tried to get pushed through the Congress to help create jobs in America, but the false equivalencies that went along with that are infuriating. That along with the people he's willing to label as "moderate."

I'd say, by what definition? Someone tell me where there's a hair's bit of difference between the voting records of Lindsey Graham and his BFF John McCain in recent years, or any of the rest of them that they named off, and the United States Senate's most extreme right winger, Jim DeMint?

Friedman likes to opine for the good old days when we had what you'd call "moderates" in the Republican Party, but accepting that notion depends completely on what anyone would describe as their definition of a "moderate."

These days, that definition seems to mean either Blue Dog Democrats who are bought and sold by corporate America, and Republicans who might actually vote with Democrats once in a while, if those policies help corporate America. Their definition of an "extremist" on the left is what's left of those in the Progressive Caucus in the House who are some of the few still remaining out there looking out for the working class.

This just looked like another demonstration by Friedman with the help of Howard Kurtz, doing his best to move the Overton Window even further to the right and give more political cover to the Republican Party by pretending that they've ever been on the side of the working class for the last forty years plus or so. They've been wanting to dismantle everything FDR did and LBJ did to put the poor and middle class back on somewhat of an equal footing with the rich and with wanting equal rights for minorities in the United States and to dismantle the New Deal and the gains for civil rights that we saw under those administrations since they were enacted.

But sadly, that's about what I'd expect from Mr. Friedman Units who's made it his job to give cover to Republicans so average Americans think they actually care about them for years now.

Transcript via CNN:

KURTZ: "New York Times" columnists serve up plenty of strong opinions about Democrats and Republicans. But Thomas Friedman is staking out some new territory, throwing his journalistic weight behind an effort to create a third party. Friedman is fed up with the idiocy of America's two political parties and wants to blow open the system, an unusual stance, to say the least, from somebody occupying the coveted real estate of the country's most influential paper.

He's the co-author of the forthcoming book, "That Used to Be Us: How American Fell Behind in the World it Invented and How We Can Come Back."

I spoke to him earlier here in the studio.


KURTZ: Tom Friedman, welcome.


KURTZ: Now, "New York Times" columnists don't endorse candidates. But you're backing an outfit called Americans Elect. This is an outfit whose mission is to get third-party candidates on the presidential ballot in 50 different states.

So, has Tom Friedman given up on the two-party system? FRIEDMAN: I haven't given up on it, Howie, but I think that the two-party system.

KURTZ: You're frustrated.

FRIEDMAN: Definitely frustrated. You can see that in the column.

But definitely think the system needs a shock, that -- you look at what's going on today, Howie, it's like we're having an economic crisis and the two parties are having an election. And they barely meet. I mean, it's sort of the economic crisis here, and it just overlaps sort of with their election over there.

KURTZ: Well, it will overlap when the two parties seem unable to agree on a basic way to raise the debt ceiling and keep the country out of default. So that frustrated everybody.

FRIEDMAN: Exactly.

KURTZ: But this idea of a third party, it seems like pie in the sky in a way.

FRIEDMAN: It certainly seems like pie in the sky to some. But the reason it's been pie in the sky, Howie, is because it's so difficult to get on the ballot. So that's why third-party candidates have rarely carried states.

I mean, George Wallace did. But if you have a third party that's already on all 50 states, and then you have an Internet election that doesn't turn out to be goofy, that doesn't end up with Lady Gaga, but actually produces a serious candidate, I think it becomes very interesting. Because what's the key? The key is to show the two parties that there is a constituency here for serious policies so they change.

That's the shock I think the system needs. And that's why I find Americans find (ph) it interesting.

KURTZ: And so you feel that given the current system, with the need to raise money and with the need to play to your ideological base on both sides, that the Democrats and Republicans essentially are not very good at governing?

FRIEDMAN: Yes. I mean, you know, you look at what's going on now, and you say, how could we actually be here today, Howie? We're waiting until Thanksgiving for these two parties to solve this crisis.

KURTZ: Meaning a super committee.

FRIEDMAN: Absolutely. And the markets are just saying, oh, yes, we'll wait. No problem. You get back to us on Turkey Day. You know what I mean?

That's part of a system that is so broken, it seems to me, that it's now dangerously broken. A friend of mine on Wall Street said to me the other day -- he said, "These politicians are dealing with the economy like it's a football. It's not a football. It's actually a Faberge egg."

It may look a little bit like a football, but you drop it and you can actually break it. And I think that's the frustration in the country today.

KURTZ: The stock market might suggest that.

You wrote a related column called "Bring Back Poppy." You miss the first George H. W. Bush, who you covered. The press didn't love him at the time. Remember those bumper stickers, "Annoy the media, reelect Bush"?

FRIEDMAN: Absolutely.

KURTZ: But now you're nostalgic of him.

FRIEDMAN: Absolutely. Well, you know, I was a reporter then, so I wasn't writing columns. So I can't tell you what opinions I had. I'm sure there were frustrations that I had at the time as a reporter.

But what did I admire about him and one do I think we need right now? One is -- first is that he believed in math. And it's hard sometimes to find Republicans who believe in math these days.

That is, when his aides came to him and said, Mr. President, we need to raise taxes, now you need to actually break that vow you made to the American people, "Read my lips, no new taxes." He did the right thing.

KURTZ: Possibly at the cost of his presidency.

FRIEDMAN: Absolutely. It certainly contributed. It paved the way to the good economy of the '90s.

At the same time, he believed in science. People forget, George H. W. Bush was the father of cap and trade, which he invented and installed to deal with the acid rain problem. Incredibly successful.

KURTZ: Which is anathema to the Republican Party.


KURTZ: But you also ask in one of your columns, Tom, "Where have the adults gone?" And you like Republicans like Dick Lugar, John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Colin Powell. And you're not a fan of Michele Bachmann. Or you mentioned Rush Limbaugh, Palin, and Grover Norquist.

But, you know, some of that sounds ideological. You like the moderate Republicans. But the center of gravity -- I think the point you're trying to make is the center of gravity in the party has shifted.

FRIEDMAN: Yes, no question. I mean, in my next life, Howie, I want to come back as a member of the base. The base has all the fun, whether it's the settlers in Israel or the Republican Party. And at some point someone has got to talk straight to these people.

When you have a party where it is an act of courage, the ultimate act of courage, to say climate change may actually be real, OK, that's nuts. OK? That's so outside where the science is.

And that's a dangerous place I think for the Republicans to be. And the country can't be serious if our biggest opposition party isn't serious about these issues.

KURTZ: If the Republican Party has been hijacked by what you call the extremist Tea Party -- you argue that as a columnist -- has the mainstream press, the regular news coverage, has it reflected that?

FRIEDMAN: Oh, yes. I think certainly the commentary, when I see the columns and what other commentators raise, certainly.

KURTZ: Right. But is it -- in the straight reporting, is there a little bit too much he said/she said and not reflecting what some would say is a historical shift in the political center of gravity in the GOP?

FRIEDMAN: You would be in a better position to judge that than me. I can't say I've done any systematic survey of that.

KURTZ: But now I bet you some people out there are watching and saying, well, you know, this is just a typical liberal media bias, back the Republicans, powered by Tea Party sentiment, won the election of 2010, captured the House of Representatives. And you, Tom Friedman, don't like that.

FRIEDMAN: Well, first of all, I'm not such a liberal. Let's start there. OK? As the left will tell you. I'm a pretty centrist kind of person, number one.

But, number two, everyone says, I won the election, now I've got a mandate. Let's look what happened over the last decade.

So George Bush Jr. wins the election, and he takes basically the Reagan revolution, tax cutting, to its logical extreme and beyond. And Obama comes in and he takes FDR's New Deal in the form of health care to its logical conclusion, and some would say and beyond, to which I say, thank you very much. Both parties have now completed the agendas of their iconic leaders of the 20th century. Could someone please build a bridge to the 21st?

KURTZ: Given the limitations that we've seen in President Obama's governing style, the fact that he comes in late, his critics would say he's too much of a compromiser, what does he stand for, all that, did the media blow it in the portrayal of candidate Obama in 2008? Did we -- were we swept along by the emotion of the Obama oration?

FRIEDMAN: Way too soon to tell that.

KURTZ: Really? Almost three years in? FRIEDMAN: Yes. I really think way too soon.

Yes. I think, look, what have I been calling for the president to -- I mean, think there is -- we so desperately need a grand bargain that involves restructuring of debt, raising of taxes, cutting of spending, and investing in the sources of our strength, OK, as a country, from everything from infrastructure, to government-funded research, to education. It's so clear that's what we need.

My personal frustration with Obama has been that, while he certainly tried that grand bargain for a little bit, it just kind of went away. Well, it didn't work. He said Boehner backed out. I don't know who backed out. Whatever --

KURTZ: It takes two sides to negotiate, yes.

FRIEDMAN: Exactly. There's no question. But if I were Obama right now, I would be out with the American people every day on that bus tour, "I am for this grand bargain. Here is what it means specifically. Here is why it will work. Here is why it's the answer to our problem."

And my own frustration with Obama is that, as a commentator now who wants to get behind solutions, OK, and come out against obstruction, I don't have a solution right now that I can say here is my guy who has got my plan out there -- I mean, the plan I think will work best for the country. And I think there's a lot of voters who feel that way as well, a lot of Obama supporters who want to be supporting the president, but they don't quite know what it is. You know what I mean?

Can you help us out?

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