FRIEDMAN (9/7/11): Meanwhile, in America, added Mahbubani, now the dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore, “No U.S. leaders dare to tell the truth to the people. All their pronouncements rest on a mythical assumption that ‘recovery’ is around the corner. Implicitly, they say this is a normal recession. But this is no normal recession. There will be no painless solution. ‘Sacrifice’ will be needed, and the American people know this. But no American politician dares utter the word ‘sacrifice.’ Painful truths cannot be told.”No American politician dares utter the word “sacrifice?” As Thomas L. Friedman thundered ahead, he made it clear that he was affirming this fiery complaint. He asked a poignant question: “Can you remember the last time you felt a national leader looked us in the eye and told us there is no easy solution to our major problems…?”
Actually, national leaders say things like that all the freaking time! Even before his inaugural address, president-elect Obama was all about “shared sacrifice.” On January 10, 2009, George Stephanopoulos was limning it thusly:
“In my exclusive interview with Barack Obama airing tomorrow on This Week, the president-elect told me that fixing our economy over the long term will require sacrifice from every American and scaling back some of his campaign promises.”
Major pols constantly talk about sacrifice. The problem begins when they start discussing who will have to make these sacrifices. (As Friedman continued, he imagined a highly regressive sacrifice, a $1 per gallon gasoline tax, offset by nothing at all.) In our view, Friedman made a good suggestion when he said that national leaders should “look us in the eye” and tell us that “we need to spend the next five years rolling up our sleeves, possibly accepting a lower living standard.” But to our ear, the basic premise of this piece seemed to come straight from the far planet Zarkon.
Does Thomas L. Friedman still live on this planet? Increasingly, we wonder. Perhaps he has decamped to the orb where the high Lady Dowd dwells. This morning, the pampered lady devotes her column to the termination of “the venerable House page program.” Alas! “When the House comes back into session this week, there will be no teenagers in blue blazers running around and filling up lawmakers’ water glasses and fetching documents,” Dowd sadly tells the nation.
Another set of jobs lost!
Ladies like Dowd type such vapid pensees from the planet on which our press elites dwell. If shared sacrifice is required, could the Dowds and the Friedmans relinquish their homes on these distant spheres? Could they return to the humble planet on which all the rest of us dwell?