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September 21, 2011

As a writer, Mr. Friedman is best known for his galloping assaults on Strunk and White’s Rule No. 9: “Do Not Affect a Breezy Manner.” “The World Is Flat” & Co. were cyclones of breeziness, mixing metaphors by the dozens and whipping up slang and clichés and jokey catchphrases of the author’s own invention. (The flattened world was just the beginning.) The breeziness would accelerate into great gusts of rhetoric about “an America we could be . . . an America we once were . . . an America we can be again,” as though the author were poking fun at a slightly drunk Ted Sorensen.

– Andrew Ferguson, Shovel-Ready Shibboleths

What Ferguson needs to understand is that Friedman is simply a representative of one of America’s most cherished institutions — the lovable barroom political crank. Ron Paul is also best understood in this context, though he and Friedman are obviously of different subspecies.

Now, I will say it. Making fun of Tom Friedman was cool about three years ago. Time to lay off the guy. Pat him on the head and enjoy him for what he is.


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