Alex Massie

The Peculiar Genius of Thomas Friedman

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Is, as someone suggested recently, to be either a dumb person's idea of a clever person or a clever person's idea of a dumb person. Or both. Perhaps the worst paragraph written this year comes, not surprisingly, from America's chief metaphor-mangler Thomas Friedman:

More than ever, America today reminds me of a working couple where the husband has just lost his job, they have two kids in junior high school, a mortgage and they’re maxed out on their credit cards. On top of it all, they recently agreed to take in their troubled cousin, Kabul, who just can’t get his act together and keeps bouncing from relative to relative. Meanwhile, their Indian nanny, who traded room and board for baby-sitting, just got accepted to M.I.T. on a full scholarship and will be leaving them in a few months. What to do?

As Jonah Goldberg says, that "more than ever" is delicious. There's so much wrong with this paragraph tha trying to navigate it is useless. You will get lost. (Why would you have a live-in nanny for kids who are at junior high? Couldn't Kabul give Mr and Mrs America the occasional night off? Speaking of Kabul, which family member was looking after him before? And, actually, isn't it a good thing that Nanny is off to MIT and on a full scholarship, no less? And so much more...) You can also enjoy this monstrosity in animated form here.

Needless to say the column ends with Friedman's now-characteristic suggestion that everything would be better - solved! - if only America were more like China. Yeah, really.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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