They don’t hand out master’s degrees in revisionist history, but if they did, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman might deserve one. Obama is mired in a geopolitical mess of his own making, from the Ukraine to the ISIS menace, yet Friedman’s decided to argue that Obama shouldn’t be harshly judged. His era is much more complicated than Reagan’s, you see.
“I’ll leave it to historians to figure out years from now who was the better president,” he claimed. Reagan’s era was defined by a capitalist-communist competition between “two organized superpowers,” while Obama’s era centers on a puzzling conflict “between a superpower and many superempowered angry men.”
Friedman started this fractured era on 9/11, which as a timeline makes a certain sense. But if so, doesn’t George W. Bush deserve sympathy as well? Wasn’t his tenure equally “complicated”? So why, after the 2008 election, did Friedman famously insist Obama should be inaugurated by Thanksgiving Day because he was so immensely superior in talent?
The bloom is off the rose now. It is painfully apparent that the world is just too complicated for President Supersmart. Friedman once labeled this president “smart and mellifluous.” Now Firedman is just like all the other socialist buffoons who handed Obama the Nobel Peace Prize on the ironclad assurance that he would deliver a new era of harmonic convergence and prosperity. He looks like a fool.
Friedman offered nothing on Obama’s failure to anticipate the rise of ISIS, despite pleas from his advisers, or on Obama’s failure to live up to his “red line” rhetoric on Syria before that. Friedman offered nothing on how Obama could have or should have outsmarted Putin as he mercilessly took Crimea and threatened the rest of the Ukraine.
In this article, Friedman was still lamenting Reagan’s 1983 withdrawal from Lebanon after hundreds of Marines died in a terrorist truck bombing, but he had nothing to say about Obama’s 2012 failure to do anything on the Benghazi fiasco.
Reagan was always dismissed as a dunce by the media elites, and when he won the Cold War, journalists unanimously insisted that was all Gorbachev’s doing. Friedman now offers a better take to advance his thesis.
In Friedman’s world, it can be argued that most of the Soviet bloc was always part of Western civilization, “naturally and historically inclined toward democratic capitalism.” All America had to do was “help remove the bad system and step aside.”
So the Cold War was as insignificant as a cold sore, nothing more. Tens of millions died, but so what?
What makes this even more ludicrous is that the leftist media – Friedman’s camp – insisted the opposite during Reagan’s time. They demanded accommodation and detente with global communism. To them, it displayed nothing but arrogance to argue on the world stage that democratic capitalism was a superior system. Every effort to help remove the “bad system” was opposed. Even as the Soviet empire crumbled under Gorbachev, American reporters were still lamenting that a superior system had been lost.
In the last year of the Soviet Union, Friedman’s New York Times ran stories on how the demise of the dictatorship was a nightmare: “Beggars and cripples emerged from the shadows, the injured and humiliated took to venting their grievances in the streets, and ever-worsening shortages pushed masses over the threshold of poverty.” After it crumbled in 1992, the Times ran the bizarre headline “A Gulag Breeds Rage, Yes, but Also Serenity.”
Friedman cannot feign objectivity in suggesting it’s somehow an open question about whether Reagan or Obama has been the more accomplished president, especially in foreign affairs. Reagan made the liberal media look like monkeys as the tide of history repealed their conventional wisdom. They’re still unable to acknowledge the size of his achievement.