Alternative Question for the Day

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on April 22, 2012

I am late to this, but it is worth asking anew why anyone takes Thomas Friedman seriously:

I had to catch a train in Washington last week. The paved street in the traffic circle around Union Station was in such poor condition that I felt as though I was on a roller coaster. I traveled on the Amtrak Acela, our sorry excuse for a fast train, on which I had so many dropped calls on my cellphone that you’d have thought I was on a remote desert island, not traveling from Washington to New York City. When I got back to Union Station, the escalator in the parking garage was broken. Maybe you’ve gotten used to all this and have stopped noticing. I haven’t. Our country needs a renewal.

And that is why I still hope Michael Bloomberg will reconsider running for president as an independent candidate, if only to participate in the presidential debates and give our two-party system the shock it needs.

No, you weren’t imagining things. Friedman thinks that Bloomberg needs to run for president because the paved streets around Union Station were not up to Friedman’s standards, his cellphone kept dropping calls on the Acela, and the escalator in the parking garage was broken. Friedman felt it was important to write a column pointing all of this out, a column infused with the premise that the president of the United States is some kind of glorified alderman, who runs around and fixes every pothole that Friedman deems a blight.

Even more amazingly, people at the New York Times thought that it would be a good idea to run his column.

UPDATE: Okay, it occurs to me that there might be a way to makes lemonade out of the lemon that is Friedman’s column.

One of the best things that can be done for the state of the New York Times editorial  page is to either shame Thomas Friedman into giving his readers better material, or to shame him out of the business of opinion-writing forever. So I propose that we take Friedman’s column and mock it with a meme that will hopefully spread through the Internet like wildfire.

Please devote as many blog posts, tweets, Facebook/Google+ status updates, and other social media utterances as you can to mocking Thomas Friedman’s column. The rules are as follows:

  1. You must focus on an exceedingly small issue that nonetheless bothers you.
  2. The small issue in question must be one that the president of the United States can do absolutely nothing about.
  3. You must nevertheless demand that the president of the United States do something about it.
  4. You must demand that in order to get major-party presidential candidates to focus on your issue, Michael Bloomberg must run as a third-party presidential candidate in 2012.
  5. Please use the words “My Thomas Friedman Voice” as part of the title to any blog post and as a blog post tag, or the hashtag #mythomasfriedmanvoice on Twitter.

Example: “I have to clean my apartment. There is a lot of work to do, and I don’t feel like doing it. And this is why I hope that Michael Bloomberg will reconsider running for president as an independent candidate, if only to get the winner of this year’s presidential election to help me clean my apartment. Which I really hate doing, by the way.”

I have never spawned a legitimate Internet meme before. I’d like this to be my first. Help me out. Help me help the future of opinion-writing at the New York Times. Let our mockery of Thomas Friedman reach the very heavens.

  • bflat879

    There’s a lot of people with in-grown toenails, where’s Freidman when you need him?

  • jsn2

    am really angry at PETA for killing dogs and throwing the carcasses
    into a dumpster. Now that we know Obama Eats Dogs THIS IS A FOOD

    Can’t someone force the D.C. dog catcher and PETA D.C. to coordinate with Second Harvest ( ) ?

  • Carey510

    The train running past my house is too damn loud. Mike Bloomberg would make them quieter. And the meals aboard would be more bland. We NEED that!

  • goodspkr

    Wasn’t focusing on very small issues Bill Clinton’s MO?  But I’m not sure I’m ready for federal regulation regarding the amount of salt I’m permitted to use. 

  • Richard Blaine

    …oh, and Obama eats dogs!

  • cm2

    Thomas Friedman is correct we need Bloomberg to run. I’m having trouble with my neighbor.  He uses to much ice melt in the Winter and spills it onto my sidewalk ruining the concrete.  Twice now I have found his brand of cigarette butt in my yard, and when I went to complain he just stood there chewing this huge wad of gum with is mouth open.
    Bloomberg is my ideal candidate, against people using to much salt, banning smoking in as many places as possible, and gum control.

  • Bonfire of the Idiocies

    My neighbor’s dogs bark while I am trying to watch TV.  I understand the president eats dogs – why hasn’t he come over to eat my neighbor’s?  He needs to do this soon.  If only we had a “no labels” independent very-wealthy proto-fascist like Nanny Bloomberg on the ticket throwing as much money as he wants down a rathole to run as a 3rd party candidate…  Ms. Bloomberg has shown an inordinate interest (some would see “maniacal obsession” ) with what other people eat.  I’m sure if Nanny ran, she could nag the president to come over and eat my neighbor’s dogs.  They look to be low in salt and trans-fats.

  • cubanbob

    Short Freidman: Bloomberg is a failure as a mayor so lets promote him to president.

  • drkennethnoisewater

    #firstworldproblem lol

  • jgw

    I’m having trouble coming up with a response for this meme. Michael Bloomberg should run for president, so that President Obama will focus on the issue of me having trouble coming up with a response to this meme.

  • HarryPumkin

    Wait, New York is broken, so the answer is to put New York’s mayor in charge of the whole country?  That sort of reasoning is very… Simpsonesque.

  • jeanneb

    My cat refuses to cooperate.  Every time she eats, she spills dry cat food onto the floor around her bowl.  No matter what I do, that part of the floor is a constant mess.  Obama’s typical response would be to provide me with someone to clean up the mess.  But I prefer what I believe would be Bloomberg’s solution.  Bloomberg would pass a law requiring the tiger to change its stripes, so to speak.  I.e., the cat MUST stop spilling food when it eats.  Bloomberg would show up the weakness of Obama’s response.  Why train a bunch of people to clean up an obviously AVOIDABLE mess?  Just eliminate the cat’s bad habit.  Voila!  Clean floor.

  • McGehee

    Make Bloomberg president because he can’t even run his own city properly?

    That’s the kind of sense I’ve come to expect of Friedman.

  • Mastro63

    Well- at least its implied that the Acela ran on time- which would have been an obvious complaint if it didn’t.

    So- at least we were spared the meme that we need to give up democracy and have a fascist or- in Friedman’s world- a Chinese autocrat run things.

  • A Smith

    The handle of my umbrella is located exactly where I want to stand. Though mayor Bloomberg is incapable of plowing snow from New York’s streets, I feel he is exactly the presidential candidate to address this issue.

  • max

    Wait a sec.  The roads around Union Station are in disrepair as a metaphor for the breakdown of the nation & Friedman wants to put the man in charge of fixing those roads in charge of the nation, why?  Is Friedman arguing for a complete breakdown of the nation?

  • Greg

    My nearest gun range is fifteen miles away, frequently crowded and not
    very user friendly for pistol shooters, which is what I prefer to
    shoot. And this is why I hope that Michael Bloomberg will reconsider
    running for president as an independent candidate, if only to get an air
    conditioned, full service indoor gun range with bikini models as range
    officers built right next to my house.

  • Casey M

    Comic book prices are too high.  I can’t usually buy all the titles I want, and if I try to buy them later the price is usually even higher.  Our country needs more subsidies for the arts, which naturally would include subsidies for me to purchase more comic books.  Since Mayor Bloomberg is known to be a patron of the arts, and neither of the current contenders seem inclined to expand art subsidies, I favor his entry into the race.

  • SergeantTeran

    Funny he’d mention escalators – government workers are responsible.

  • Tx

    Donuts and bagels. Staples of American Breakfast Life, not just in NYC, but across America itself.

    The problem being, once they are removed from the cookers, they often are laid on a tray, where they cool to room temperature.

    Some businesses have warming lamps, to maintain that warm, doughy freshness, but not all places do.

    Everyone in America, especially our Government Officials and Police, deserve better than this.

    can fix this, with Government funded warming lamps, and the electricity
    to run them. It’s magic, all you have to do is plug them in.

    THIS will save America from its’ Malaise. Save us, Bloomberg !!

  • Thomas Friedman

    And another thing . . . My wife refuses to put the toilet paper rolls in the proper way – you know, with the paper coming out the back.  She does it wrong.  She does it wrong in all nineteen bathrooms in the house.  We need Michael Bloomberg to run as a third-party candidate for President so that the President can come here, take my wife around all the bathrooms, demonstrate to her the proper way to install a toilet paper roll, and supervise her the next time she puts in a new toilet paper roll in our bathrooms.  All nineteen of them.

  • Guest

    Cute idea. Your #hashtag is way too long though. Better luck with your next meme.

  • George Washington

    Many of the daffodils I planted in fall 09 inexplicably did not appear this year. I thought maybe it was squirrels, but now I know  – we have an inneffective federal govt. Bloomberg please save us.

    • xbox361

      my daffodils did not appear as well
      we burned a local witch, but maybe it was the federal government’s fault.  probably still GWB’s fault

  • JDD2012

    My wife was raped and murdered by a black Mormon. In order to get major-party presidential candidates to focus on this issue, Michael Bloomberg must run as a third-party presidential candidate in 2012.

  • FrancisChalk

    Thomas Friedman is an idiot. Anyone who thinks otherwise is a moron.

    • xbox361

      You, sir, are the worst person in the world.
      Thomas Friedman is the moron, those who think otherwise are idiots.
      Yeah, and I’ll call you Francis, not Psycho like you want me to.

  • seo company

    It’s really great post.

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