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Suck On This


Hard to argue with this choice.

The thing about the definitive “suck on this” moment is how utterly asinine the surrounding analysis is. How, exactly, is terrorism like a stock-market bubble? But when you defend disastrous wars in exclusively in terms of business-book cliches and vacuous catchphrases, it allows you to avoid stating things in specific enough terms that their stupidity becomes more transparent — i.e. “we need to randomly kill a bunch of people so we can deter suicide bombers.”

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  • Balu

    Gosh, Charlie Rose is a wanker too.

    • mark f
      • Hogan

        Pioneered by SCTV, of course.

        • stevo67

          I remember this moment in TV history because I had two thoughts immediately after watching this segment, (1) Most third graders have a better understanding of the world than Friedman, and (2) I would never watch the Charlie Rose show again.

          Epic. Fail.

  • R Johnston

    Friedman is a fine choice, although my preference would have been Bobo. Friedman’s a very good example of the non-Republican variation of the clueless narcissistic sociopathic rich white guy, but Bobo is a genuine Grade-A idiot. I also know too many clueless lefty types who point to Bobo as a “reasonable” conservative they read and respect like Derbyshire points to a black “friend.” Friendman’s wanking, at its worst, was as egregious and dangerous as anyone’s, but Bobo is far more stupid and, in my experience, more insidious.

    • Steve LaBonne

      I figured Friedman for the #1 slot but I am very surprised that Bobo didn’t even make the top 10. Atrios sort of gave a rationale for that, which I really didn’t understant.

      • R Johnston

        The real reason Bobo didn’t make the list, as far as I can tell, is that Atrios was clearly avoiding naming multiple wankers whose primary wanking for the same media outlet. Hiatt/Cohen was the only exception, but the need to recognize the WaPo op/ed page as a whole was just too strong, and Hiatt got his listing for his superheroic enabling of wanking more than for his rather pedestrian wanking itself.

        • david mizner

          It’s an arbitrary list, as it could only be. He claims, for example, that wanker must be a taken seriously by Serious people but includes Jonah Goldberg.

          I hadn’t been paying attention and just read every entry. It’s clear that like a lot of us, Atrios is still burning with anger about the war in Iraq and first Bush term generally. Friedman, Diane Sawyer, Joe Klein, Hiatt, Cohen, and Andrew Sullivan were all malevolent forces in 2002-03, and even the McCardle and Halperin entries focus in part on Iraq. I like this graf, though I don’t get all the references.

          this particular award is really going back to the beginning, when the libertarian case for war in Iraq was strong, and the metaphysics of “pre-emptive war” was debated alongside the metaphysics of “firm, pre-emptive” use of 2x4s against protesters. Throw in a bit of confusion about just what a 2×4 is, the fact that people on the internet are mean, and pleas for civilitude from those of us not wanting to blow up a bunch of people over there just because, and you have the perfect McArdle mix.

          • Uncle Kvetch

            It’s clear that like a lot of us, Atrios is still burning with anger about the war in Iraq and first Bush term generally.

            May he never get over it. I hope I never do.

            • Every now and again, the US’s record on torture in the 2000s just guts me.

              (Lots of other things do too, but for some reason I tend to fixate a bit on the torture. I mean…TORTURE?!?! Just…wtf.)

              The list is long.

              • Malaclypse

                This. we’ve done evil wars before. But Bush normalized torture. Fucking torture. I’m so old I remember when we were against that, at least officially.

                • jeer9

                  Yes, it’s very sad. It’s almost as if Bush’s policies on torture and rendition have been part of a long normative process that virtually no one could change, though I hear that Bagram is improving and may soon serve as a veritable model of humane treatment.

            • joe from Lowell

              The took J.R.R. Tolkein and French-bashing, and turned them into Shibboleths for the conservative movement. The Simpsons used to do French jokes. “Frodo Lives!” was 60s hippie graffiti – and they turned them into advertisements for militarism and kulturkampf.

              I know it’s not torture, but that’s pretty fucking bad, right?

      • Walt

        I think the distinction he’s trying to make is between a bullshitter, like Bobo, and a genuinely stupid person, like Friedman.

        • firefall

          Yeah .. Bobo knows he’s a whore, Friedman thinks he’s being honest (although think might be too strong a word).

          • To paraphrase pre-insanity Mamet, Friedman’s a bought and paid-for whore but thinks he’s a ballerina because he works with his legs.

        • DrDick

          I would agree with this.

        • R Johnston

          If you don’t think Bobo’s genuinely stupid then you haven’t been paying attention. Bobo’s easily Jonah Goldberg levels of stupid, just with better personal hygiene and more politeness. Every time Bobo tries to make an actual policy argument or, heaven forbid, invokes numbers the stupid that comes out is blinding.

          • Pith Helmet

            and spelling.

          • DrDick

            Bobo is much more of a tool than a wanker (which I think is Atrios’s reasoning as well).

          • Walt

            He’s marketing a product that he’s not selling to you. It’s like saying beer commercials are ineffective because they’re stupid.

      • Marek

        But, by leaving out such an obvious choice as Bobo, wasn’t Atrios in fact inviting us to add him to the list? What would Hobbes have thought? About Bobo?

        • Uncle Kvetch

          What would Hobbes have thought? About Bobo?

          The absence of Bobo just demonstrates the overwhelming presence of Bobo. By giving all of the awards to other people, Atrios gave them all to Bobo.

          • calling all toasters

            But also, simultaneously, to not-Bobo.

            • DocAmazing

              The Heisenbobo Uncertainty Principle.

    • dangermaus

      Bobo isn’t a wanker

      He’s a frotteur

      • Uncle Kvetch

        He’s a frotteur

        Exactly! Bobo is a courtesan. His function is to reassure the Masters of the Universe that all’s well with the world and that they are in their rightful place in the grand scheme of things. When you look at it that way, there’s nothing really interesting about him. He’s banal. There have been Bobos around since the first cringing suck-up told the first strutting, swaggering Big Cheese that not only was the new loincloth magnificent, but that no one else could ever hope to be quite so fetching in it.

        Friedman’s different…sure, Bobo may play armchair sociologist when he wants to add some intellectual cred to his schtick, but Friedman honestly seems to believe that he is some kind of visionary. With just the right tortured metaphor, you can unlock the mysteries of life, the universe, and everything. In terms of wankery, that’s a whole ‘nother level, man.

        • ajay

          Bobo is a courtesan. His function is to reassure the Masters of the Universe that all’s well with the world and that they are in their rightful place in the grand scheme of things.

          “Are you rich?”

          Ford laughed. “Do I look rich?”

          “Maybe,” said the girl. “I have a very special service for rich people…”


          “I tell them it’s OK to be rich.”

    • godoggo

      Who’s Bobo?

  • Anonymous

    Good Lord. That was just asinine.

    • firefall

      What have you got against donkeys? That was malevolently evil, and the vile dolt is blithely ignorant of how rancidly amoral he is

  • Here’s another great Friedman moment, calling for collective punishment against civilians:

    But if NATO’s only strength is that it can bomb forever, then it has to get every ounce out of that. Let’s at least have a real air war. The idea that people are still holding rock concerts in Belgrade, or going out for Sunday merry-go-round rides, while their fellow Serbs are ”cleansing” Kosovo, is outrageous. It should be lights out in Belgrade: every power grid, water pipe, bridge, road and war-related factory has to be targeted.

    Like it or not, we are at war with the Serbian nation (the Serbs certainly think so), and the stakes have to be very clear: Every week you ravage Kosovo is another decade we will set your country back by pulverizing you. You want 1950? We can do 1950. You want 1389? We can do 1389 too.

    NY Times (23 Apr. 1999)

    More here.

    • Not to defend Mr. Friedman, but could he have a point here? He certainly discusses this in almost genocidal terms — rather than “We will destroy your power to make war on your neighbors” he promises to bomb them back to the Stone Age if they don’t behave. Very disturbing.

      Still, war with other states includes the destruction of state cohesion. I deployed to Bosnia with SFOR and supported the decision to go to war over genocide in the Balkans. Since the US decided to intervene on behalf of the Kosovo independence movement in its shooting conflict with the Yugoslav Army, it was in a state of war with Yugoslavia.

      To be sure, expanding the war to the civilian Yugoslav population certainly creates more suffering. But their Army was committing genocide. Doesn’t that matter?

      • Marek

        Yes, it matters. But to revel in civilian casualties, as the Mustache of Understanding did, is to lose the moral high ground.

      • Hob

        If only some international body would address that interesting question.

        Targeting “every war-related factory” is arguably legitimate. Targeting “every power grid, water pipe, bridge, and road” has been specifically defined as a war crime. There’s no “but that country is really evil” exemption.

        • Article 54 would seem to protect “water pipes,” but power grids, bridges and roads could certainly be legitimate military objectives under the Conventions you cite except when attacked in an attempt to starve the civilian population. It’s not about an exemption for “evil” but about destruction of infrastructure that supports the war effort. In a conflict with another state, evil or not, ending its ability to make war strikes me as a legitimate strategic goal.

          Of course, Friedman expresses this concept in a particularly immoral and inflammatory way.

          • Hob

            So, if you focus on point X that Friedman *could* have made, rather than what he actually said– which as you’ve already pointed out is not the same thing at all, in addition to being inflammatory and immoral– then yeah, you’ll find that X is less contrary to international law. I fail to understand how that translates to “could he have a point here?” I really hope you’re just trolling.

      • joe from Lowell

        every power grid, water pipe, bridge, road and war-related factory has to be targeted

        is a recipe for tens or hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths. He’s talking about leaving a big city without power, water, or access.

  • Manju

    This is all wrong. Friedman’s no wanker. He’s a sucker.

    He wanted them to suck ours. However…10+ yrs, gazillions of $$$, and countless American lives later…we sucked theirs.

    We would’ve all been better off if Friedman was just wanking. But alas, he is sucking.

    • Furious Jorge

      Why choose just one?

      • Manju

        Well…as the vid above shows, he just doesn’t seem like a guy who has a grip on himself.

        • DrDick

          I would say that himself is the only thing he does have a grip on.

  • TT

    “….how utterly asinine the surrounding analysis is.”

    I recommend the following parody. (Actually, given how pitch-perfect Smith gets Friedman’s globalization shtick, maybe it’s not a parody.)

    • Davis X. Machina

      Saved the day. Computer, car, cats… all redeemed.

      • Uncle Kvetch

        That is magnifient, TT. Taibbi’s got competition. But then again, when the target is so vast…

    • somethingblue

      “I’ll tell you one thing,” Friedman shot back, “the Middle East doesn’t need a road map. What it needs is a flight plan.

      Yep, that’s our Tom.

  • That is just stunningly evil. Here’s a bubble for you, Tommy Boy: the pseudo-intellectual post-hoc rationalization bubble. How bout I come over to your house and burst that for you?


  • I kinda feel sorry that Matt Taibbi will never top his takedown of Friedman. But then again, a target like that doesn’t come around that often.

  • I would like to state for the record, and after the fact, that I had four trillion million hundred dollars on the Friedman horse to win. If I could have bet human beings, I would have plunked down my first born, my mother, my favorite cousin, and the life-redeeming sexual manna that is Paz de la Huerta too. There was just no way Mr. FU himself was not a cold 100% lock for this. (Note: I also had eleventy million on the superfecta of Friedman-Brooks-Sullivan-Klein and was shocked to see my two horse finish out of the money entirely.)

    If only I was as good at handicapping baseball players as I am wankers my LGM fantasy team would be faring a hell of a lot better.

  • I think the next six months will determine if Friedman actually deserves this honor.

    • Pith Helmet


    • Phoenix_rising

      And…we have a winner.

    • Marek

      OMG FTW!

  • Paul Campos

    I once beat Tom Friedman and Arianna Huffington to the last two guacamole shrimp cocktails at the buffet table at a billionaire’s soiree in Aspen. (I swooped up both with my hand even as they stabbed desperately for them with gilded toothpicks).

    It was possibly the greatest moment of my life.

    • “billionaire’s soiree in Aspen”

      Boy, you weren’t kidding about law schools needing to reform :D

      But truly, this story warms my heart.

    • Stabbling with their gilded toothpicks, you say? Sounds familiar. Isn’t this the place with mirrors on the ceiling, pink champagne on ice?

    • Furious Jorge

      The only way this story could possibly be better is if you immediately swallowed both cocktails yourself, right in front of them.

  • And yet, after more than a decade of not sure if he’s stupid or evil but he is definitely wrong, Tom Friedman is still considered to be one of the world’s leading intellectuals by all of my tote-bagger buddies. Why? I can’t be sure, but I believe that they need him because they have no one else who is so much like them.

  • creature

    L’il Tommy’s good fer sumpthin’- perfect example of the perfect asshole.

  • Joshua

    My cab driver told me he was going to win this.

    • Furious Jorge

      This is also worthy of a +1.

  • Jim Lynch

    Hillary Clinton and every motherfucking democrat that signed off on that war said essentially the same thing.

    But Tom Freidman is the laughingstock?

    • Hillary Clinton and every motherfucking democrat that signed off on that war said essentially the same thing.

      Show me where.

      • Jim Lynch

        Where what, S Mc?

        • Where did they say “suck on this”?

          • joe from Lowell

            There needs to be some sort of award for the word “essentially” in Jim Lynch’s comment. That’s the hardest-working word in show biz.

  • Jim Lynch

    Don’t be ridiculous. Re-read what I wrote.

    • Okay, I’ve reread it. Maybe you were responding to someone in the thread; the context isn’t clear. What is the “same thing” they said?

      • Jim Lynch

        “Essentially”, professor. The key word in that post is: “essentially”.

        • No really: point out who said “essentially” what Tom Friedman said. Quote that person, professor. I ask because I’m curious, not because I want to excuse people who should be in jail.

          • Jim Lynch

            “I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: democracy simply does not work”.

            Kent Brockman

            • I said essentially the same thing when I said “There’s no way Jim Lynch is gonna produce a quote that measures up to Tom Friedman in the video above.”

        • joe from Lowell

          The key word in that post is: “essentially”.

          That’s never a good sign.

          • Malaclypse

            It would be better, and more in keeping with internet tradition, had Jim used the word “literally.” That would, however, beg the question.

  • charles pierce

    The speaker at my son’s graduation from Brandeis was supposed to be David Halberstam, but he got killed in a car crash. His last-minute replacement? Tom Friedman.
    I still think I should get ever last dime of tuition back.

    • Ben

      The meekblithering idiots inherit the earthcushy speaking gigs.

    • firefall

      And damages

  • Charlie Sweatpants

    “Atrios is still burning with anger about the war in Iraq and first Bush term generally.”

    “May he never get over it. I hope I never do.”

    “Every now and again, the US’s record on torture in the 2000s just guts me.”

    “This. we’ve done evil wars before. But Bush normalized torture. Fucking torture. I’m so old I remember when we were against that, at least officially.”

    Co-sign all of the above. That crooked election is a first ballot cinch for the “Worst Things to Ever Happen to America Hall of Fame”. We’re less than a dozen years removed from it, and yet people treat it like it’s ancient history.

    • Mentioning the 2000 Selection was deemed treasonous on September 12, 2001, at 1PM. It was declared that the only loyal statement was the Bush/Cheney had won in a landslide and that the Democrats had to do everything they were asked to do without complaining. As you may recall, that is exactly what the Democrats did.

  • joe from Lowell

    I haven’t watched that in a long time. Wow, is Friedman stupid. He thinks he’s smart because he’s using trendy terms, but he can’t even use them correctly.

    I didn’t think it was possible for me to underestimate the stupidity of the “Suck on this” monologue, but that’s exactly what I’ve been doing. This profoundly stupid moment, which I remember as an iconic demonstration of the stupidity of its protagonist and genre, is even more stupid than I remember.

    What the hell is a “corporate governance bubble?” Idiot.

    • Davis X. Machina

      What the hell is a “corporate governance bubble?

      A fortune awaited, apparently, the first man to figure out you don’t actually need a refrigerator to use refrigerator poetry magnets.

      Friedman was just first.

    • gmack

      Personally, my favorite moment of the quote is his insistence on gender egalitarianism, so that both “American boys and girls” get to participate in his little rape fantasy.

    • Scott Lemieux

      But there’s three bubbles! Three! What a coincidence that we can discuss this here in Silicon Valley.

    • BradP

      What the hell is a “corporate governance bubble?” Idiot.

      The going rate for “corporate governance” is higher than its likely returns. It sort of looks like we are going through a “corporate governance” bubble, but where bubbles are generated by incorrect or irrational expectations, for CEO pay it was mainly whatever boards and managers could get away with.

      The “terrorism bubble” that says its ok to fly planes into buildings. Now that shows how clueless he is.

  • hylen
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