Tom Friedman

The Visionary

If you were to pinpoint one moment when it looked as if things just might work out for Salam Fayyad, the Palestinian prime minister, it would probably be February 2, 2010. That day, Fayyad addressed the annual Herzliya Conference, a sort of Israeli version of Davos featuring high-powered policymakers and intellectuals. It is not a typical speaking venue for Palestinians; yet Fayyad was warmly received.

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When, a few months ago, I went to visit the spanking-new Pennsylvania Avenue offices of Americans Elect, the group that has spent millions of dollars (provided by undisclosed donors) to get a centrist third choice candidate on the presidential ballot, the first thing I noticed was the lone decoration on the main wall in the front lobby: a framed July 2011 column by Tom Friedman touting the organization.

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In the past day or two, I've seen a few disparate data points to suggest that the movement to create a new third choice on the 2012 presidential ballot led by people who one might rationally expect to be with President Obama is gaining momentum. It turns out that these guys -- who are working to nominate a bipartisan ticket in an online convention with the blessing of Tom Friedman and the backing of some very wealthy people -- are not the only ones who believe that all Washington needs is a new breed of leader who can swoop in and transcend all our divides. 1.

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Third Wheel

There is a movement afoot in the land, but I don’t mean the one amid the tarps at Zuccotti Park. Instead, it’s a 148-person operation headquartered in a tenth-floor office on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington decorated with sleek posters that proclaim, “Make My Vote Count” and “Open Up The Ballot.” Hanging in the reception area is a framed op-ed column praising the movement, written by the man who is its Marx or Engels: Tom Friedman. This is Americans Elect, the latest attempt to challenge the country’s two-party duopoly from the political center.

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Well, not quite or maybe just not yet. Tom Friedman has called for the establishment of a third party, which is the alternative put forward almost every time a Democratic president disappoints. And Tom’s disappointment is hardly an insignificant occurrence in the president’s ongoing campaign for reelection. This time, there’s another incentive, and it is that the Republicans may nominate, as the Democrats see it, one of several crackpots who just might win in 2012. Of course, this is not exactly logical.

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[Guest post by Isaac Chotiner] In his column today, Tom Friedman compares President Obama to Tiger Woods--each man is skilled at what he does, and each man, in Friedman's words, is a "natural who has lost his swing." After quixotically urging Obama to push for a "grand bargain" on the deficit, Friedman  implores the president to take notes from another golfer, although this one is fictional: Meanwhile, Mr. President, on a rainy day, rent the movie Tin Cup. There is a great scene where Dr.

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This morning, listening to Diane Rehm, I heard the host ask her guest what President Obama should do to fix the ailing economy. Her guest expert tried to answer, but did not point out that any proposal to address the economy would require passage by the House and Senate. It struck me, again, that our political discourse is consumed by magical thinking. Two large economic problems have dominated the discourse -- the Great Recession, and the long-term deficit.

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The Butterfly Effect

It is often said that the age of the Washington hostess is dead. Gone are the days, we are told, of Katharine Graham and Pamela Harriman, who assembled Washington power players around tables where deals were struck and alliances forged. But that may not be entirely true. The name Rima Al-Sabah doesn’t ring many bells to people outside the Beltway. Inside, it rings a lot. Al-Sabah is the wife of the Kuwaiti ambassador, Salem Al-Sabah. Since the couple arrived in Washington in 2001, she has become known as the issuer of invitations one doesn’t decline.

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Sinking Fast

The U.S. ship in the successor flotilla aiming to break the Israeli embargo of the Gaza Strip has been named The Audacity of Hope. It is a bad joke that Barack Obama deserves. His proven coldness toward Israel has emboldened these foolish and meretricious people (including the uproariously silly Alice Walker) to open yet another front against the Jewish state. Of course, their campaign is not really about the embargo. It is about the very existence of Israel. It is not genocide, but it is politicide, and this is also a crime against humanity.

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Wowy, zowy, Obama is doing his own thinking on the Middle East and here’s the even worse news: He’s taking advice from Tom Friedman and Fareed Zakaria. These pathetic tidings about the inner Barack Obama, who puts his very own twist on all things, particularly Arab and Muslim matters, and the other Barack Obama, who needs counsel from two political therapists, famous and even clever but not especially deep, come from the subtle and highly reliable journalist Mark Landler in The New York Times. These tidbits are not contradictory.

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