The Legend Lives on from the TED Talks on Down

Of the big fake they called 'Both Sides Tommy'...

Tom Friedman was in the Grand Salon of the RMS Both Sides Do It when his magic cab driver brought the dire news.

"Ship's going down sir."

Friedman sighed.


"Again, sir."

Shit.  He had just finished his Cockie Leekie (sublime!) and was preparing to tuck into the Fillets of Brill.  This would certainly interfere with galley service.

"You sure?"

His cabbie shrugged.

"Look at the floor, sir."

Friedman peered owlishly over the lip of the table and, damn, if the Grand Salon wasn't already under two feet of frigid water and was filling up fast.  Spittoons, peasants and the shattered remains of the EPA bobbed lifelessly in the rising Republican tide all around him.  Outside, the corridors were full of terrified passengers scrambling to find some way out.

Friedman sighed again.  So much for the mighty and "unsinkable" Both Sides Do It.  Quick action was called for before galley service deteriorated completely.

"Very well.  Tell the steward to pack -- carefully! -- my baked potato, custard pudding, veal and ham pie, Galantine of chicken and apple meringue pasty in take-away boxes. And do not expect a tip."

His cabbie shrugged again, pointing to the frozen corpse of the head chef as it floated past.

"I don't think that will be possible, sir."

This was intolerable.

"Jesus, Mary and Davos!" Friedman exclaimed.  "And the cheese course?"

"Unsalvageable, sir."

"Very well then,"  Friedman said, climbing on his cabbie piggy-back style.  "Bear me to the lifeboats."

Cabbie began slogging through frozen detritus on American democracy towards the port side boats.

"Where do you think you are going?"  Friedman barked.

"To the boats, sir."

"Luggage first, man."  Friedman said. "Luggage first."

Later, carrying Tom Friedman and his 27 steamer trunks filled with priceless New York Times columns, two dozen, identical faux-ninja black lecture togs and several hundred irreplaceable and as-yet-unsold copies of The World Is Flat, Friedman's cabbie finally made it to the port-side "A Third Party Will Save Us" boats only to find that they had all already been launched --
The Obligatory Tom Friedman Third Party Column

Before I serve up a few droppings from today's Obligatory Tom Friedman Third Party Column, I commend to your attention these excerpts from Columbia Journalism Review's article from five years ago on the phenomenon of the Obligatory Tom Friedman Third Party Column (which I originally commended to your attention four years ago) to underscore just exactly how extraordinarily terrible and lazy The Mustache of Understanding really is...
-- and had all promptly shattered and sunk moment they hit the water.

"Looks like our options are narrowing, sir."

Friedman glared at presumption of cabbie's use of the word "our" but said nothing.  After all, he still needed stoop labor with a strong back and sharp elbows to carry him and his 30-years of shitty ideological baggage to safety.

Cabbie bulldozed their way through the panicked throngs until, at last, they arrived at the last place Tom Friedman ever wanted to be.  A line of small but yar vessels, each with the motto of The Professional Left Podcast -- 
-- proudly stenciled on the side.

"By the authority vested in me by The New York Times, the Aspen Ideas Festival and the Pulitzer Committee I hereby commandeer three -- no, four! -- of these vessels for the sake of humanity and the future of civilization!" Friedman declared imperiously, and presented his impeccable Beltway credentials...which he had hastily typed up on the way over from the Grand Salon while riding on cabbie's shoulders (emphasis added):
The American Civil War, Part II

The nation is deeply divided, with each side seeing the other as “the enemy.”

...In essence, we’ve moved from “partisanship,” which still allowed for political compromises in the end, “to tribalism,” which does not, explained political scientist Norman Ornstein, co-author, with Thomas Mann, of the book “It’s Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided With the New Politics of Extremism.” In a tribal world it’s rule or die, compromise is a sin, enemies must be crushed and power must be held at all costs.

It would be easy to blame both sides equally for this shift, noted Ornstein, but it is just not true. After the end of the Cold War, he said, “tribal politics were introduced by Newt Gingrich when he came to Congress 40 years ago,” and then perfected by Mitch McConnell during the Barack Obama presidency, when McConnell declared his intention to use his G.O.P. Senate caucus to make Obama fail as a strategy for getting Republicans back in power.

They did this even though that meant scuttling Obama’s health care plan, which was based on Republican ideas, and even though that meant scuttling long-held G.O.P. principles — like fiscal discipline, a strong Atlantic alliance, distrust of Russian intentions and a balanced approach to immigration — to attract Trump’s base...
It killed him to write it.  Killed him.  Worse than being denied his cheese course.  Worse than no longer having an open invitation to tongue baths on The Charlie Rose Show.  But there was no other way.  And thus did Tom "Both Sides Do It" Friedman find himself the captain (hell, admiral) of a tiny fleet of #BothSidesDont vessels stolen from the very same dirty hippies he had spent his career mocking and despising.  A sturdy flotilla, roped together with souvenir gift bag scarves from the World Economic Forum (killed him to do that) and powered by cabbie's strong arms at the oars.

Cabbie rowed hard until they were clear of the immediate danger, but other than the blazing fires that a cackling, mad-eyed Hugh Hewitt was setting on the deck ("Burn it!  Burn it all!"as the great, dying luxury liner moaned and cracked and slid beneath the waves, nothing but the stars in the moonless sky could be seen.

Cabbie stopped rowing as they faced an empty, black horizon in all directions.

"So where exactly are we going, sir?"

Good question.

Friedman retrieved the commemorative spyglass they had awarded him at the Chicago Humanities Festival several years ago after he gave a speech explaining in great, saccharine detail how everything that was happening now could now possibly ever happen.  

He scanned the night, looking...looking...  Then, just at the place where the sky kissed the sea,  a flicker of light.  

"There!"  he cried.  "Head there!"  

"Where sir?"

"There, you fool!  Right where I am pointing!" (emphasis added)
When I look at all the people today who are propelling their political careers and fattening their wallets by dividing us, I cannot help but wonder: Do these people go home at night to some offshore island where none of this matters? Do these people really think their kids aren’t going to pay for the venom they sell and spread? Don’t worry, I know the answer: They aren’t thinking and they aren’t going to stop it.

What stops it? When a majority of Americans, who are still center-left and center-right, come together and...
"Faster, man!  Put your back into it!"

As they slowly picked up speed, Friedman could practically smell the Galantine of chicken, the apple meringue pasty, the tasty cheese course and the Pulitzer Prize that would surely be waiting for him once they reached their inevitable destination.

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