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December 01, 2010

In Which I Challenge Tom Friedman To A Debate

Moron Nation, I need your help.

For far too long Tom Friedman has used his perch on the Op-Ed page of the NY Times to slap America and build up China. He must be confronted before he wins another Pulitzer for it.

I'm issuing a challenge to Friedman to debate me anytime, anywhere, but I'm going to need your help. We need to get him to see it and then badger him into accepting the challenge.

Why am I doing this? Because sometimes a really stupid and foolish gesture is required! Who is with me?

Here's the challenge:

Dear Mr. Friedman,

Let me say upfront, I’m not a fan (though I can be complimentary when it's deserved).

I’ve written several times in response to your recurring flirtations with the various advantages you see in China and the relative weaknesses of America. We have an honest and profound disagreement on these topics and quite frankly, I think they need to be aired. Am I, a part-time, hobbyist blogger the ideal candidate to take on a multiple Pulitzer Prize winner such as you? Honestly, only my mom, God love her, would say yes. Still, it comes down to the man willing to step into the arena and at the moment, that’s me.

What prompted this David to challenge an editorial Goliath such as you to a debate?

Your December 1, 2010 column which imagined a WikiLeak cable from the Chinese Embassy in DC to the home office in Beijing was just a bridge too far for me. Another blog post Fisking you simply wasn’t good enough to satisfy me. I, well someone, really needs to have a sit down debate complete with an audience to hash this out with you.

Just to make it fair, let me run through in bullet point form some of the issues I have with your latest column and where I think we could find interesting ground for a debate.



• You seem to find it amusing and bit pathetic that Americans are debating the proper limits on government when it comes to security.

I find it sad and scary that China arrests people for using Twitter.

• You think not acting on START plays in to China’s hands at the expense of US-Russian relations.

I think China’s continued support of North Korea is a far more pressing nuclear issue.

• You argue that our elections are simply about replacing one set of liars with another.

I grant that’s possible but at least here in the US we have the opportunity to hold our representatives accountable. We may have to keep purging them until we get the right set of legislators (hey purges…common ground with China!) but we’ll get there or at least closer eventually.

• You are very excited about China’s rail system.

Americans simply don’t like the train. All the complaining in the world is not going to change that. Also the Beijing to Tianjin line appears to have been built in less than a year. In the US, you wouldn’t be able to finish the paperwork, including environmental impact studies in that time. Which environmental laws are you willing to repeal to get this kind of building done? I’d really like to know because I think there would be some common ground between us on that. Or are you just talking big but unwilling to dial back any sort of government control?

• You complain about the cell system in America.

I don’t know what to say to that. It doesn’t strike me as remotely an issue. Phones and carrier options are plentiful. Even in the poorest of communities people can find a plan they can afford. Can the same be said for the vast majority of Chinese?

• You don’t like all the focus on “American exceptionalism”.

This I think will be an interesting area of discussion at our debate. You find it laughable that people talk about it; I find it pathetic that people deny it or run down the very notion that we should be exceptional.

More interesting will be the debate we can have about how to achieve a greater level of exceptionalism in this country. I think you will argue in favor of a top down approach (in line with how China seems to organize its affairs), I will argue for a more decentralized and yes, messy and inefficient, model.

So what do you say Mr. Friedman? This should be a no brainer for you; you’ll run circles around me, right? Yes, there’s always the danger that I’ll get lucky and make a good point or two but you are Tom Friedman! You get to go back to the pages of the NY Times where no one can talk back or to the comfort of the Aspen Institute retreat where all the right thinking people think the same right things. No harm, no foul!

I’ll do my best to get this to you. Should you want to get in touch with me to set a date and location email me at drewmtips (at) gmail (dot) com. And yes, I’ll use my real name, I’m willing to make sacrifices to share the stage with you.

I look forward to hearing from you soon!

All the best,
Drew

PS- I left one thing out of my critique of your column…if there ever is a WikiLeaks event like this that hits China, you can bet the person responsible would meet a pretty ugly fate in China. Eggs and omelets, I suppose.

(Thanks to Slublog for proof reading this for me. You see how serious I am about this?)

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posted by DrewM. at 03:57 PM

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