Tom Friedman: We need a 9/10 president in a post-9/11 world

Friedman, in his opinion piece in today’s New York Times, writes that 9/11 “made us stupid” and implores “us” to get back into “our old habits and sense of openness”:

[…] Times columnists are not allowed to endorse candidates, but there’s no rule against saying who will not get my vote: I will not vote for any candidate running on 9/11. We don’t need another president of 9/11. We need a president for 9/12. I will only vote for the 9/12 candidate.

What does that mean? This: 9/11 has made us stupid. I honor, and weep for, all those murdered on that day. But our reaction to 9/11 — mine included — has knocked America completely out of balance, and it is time to get things right again.

It is not that I thought we had new enemies that day and now I don’t. Yes, in the wake of 9/11, we need new precautions, new barriers. But we also need our old habits and sense of openness. For me, the candidate of 9/12 is the one who will not only understand who our enemies are, but who we are.

Before 9/11, the world thought America’s slogan was: “Where anything is possible for anybody.” But that is not our global brand anymore. Our government has been exporting fear, not hope: “Give me your tired, your poor and your fingerprints.”

You may think Guantánamo Bay is a prison camp in Cuba for Al Qaeda terrorists. A lot of the world thinks it’s a place we send visitors who don’t give the right answers at immigration. I will not vote for any candidate who is not committed to dismantling Guantánamo Bay and replacing it with a free field hospital for poor Cubans. Guantánamo Bay is the anti-Statue of Liberty.

Roger Dow, president of the Travel Industry Association, told me that the United States has lost millions of overseas visitors since 9/11 — even though the dollar is weak and America is on sale. “Only the U.S. is losing traveler volume among major countries, which is unheard of in today’s world” Mr. Dow said.

Note the obligatory mention of “new precautions, new barriers.” By this, what does Friedman mean? In his piece, the strong impression you get is that he finds the very “barriers” put up by the Bush administration after 9/11 – barriers meant to prevent another terrorist attack on our soil – are hindrances to what the US is all about: freedom, openness, the perfect place to realize your dreams. But what Friedman, another 9/10 lefty, still doesn’t understand is that those barriers weren’t meant to keep the good people out – they’re there to keep people who aim to do us harm from getting in. Yes, America is the land of hope and dreams, Mr. Friedman, but the “dreams” of some – most noteably Islamofascists – revolve around the death, destruction, and submission of the west, with the United States being the dominant symbol of everything radical Islamists despise. And dare I say that I could care less if people who want to visit this country decide not to do so because they don’t like the post-9/11 measures America has taken in order to protect herself? We’ve got enough idiots in this country who believe the US should play nice with those who wish to kill us, and we certainly don’t need anymore.

Friedman’s clearly upset that things had to change at all after 9/11. To him, the precautions this country has put into place, the actions taken by the President in response to the attacks, are not only irritating inconveniences to him that he’d rather not have to deal with, but also not necessary when there are issues of more “importance” that in his mind should take priority over fighting terrorism (emphasis added):

Total business arrivals to the United States fell by 10 percent over the 2004-5 period alone, while the number of business visitors to Europe grew by 8 percent in that time. The travel industry’s recent Discover America Partnership study concluded that “the U.S. entry process has created a climate of fear and frustration that is turning away foreign business and leisure travelers and hurting America’s image abroad.” Those who don’t visit us, don’t know us.


Look at our infrastructure. It’s not just the bridge that fell in my hometown, Minneapolis. Fly from Zurich’s ultramodern airport to La Guardia’s dump. It is like flying from the Jetsons to the Flintstones. I still can’t get uninterrupted cellphone service between my home in Bethesda and my office in D.C. But I recently bought a pocket cellphone at the Beijing airport and immediately called my wife in Bethesda — crystal clear.

Oh, the horror! George W. Bush is stealing our rights, but what’s even worse, Tom Friedman can’t get good cellphone service at his home and work. Continuing:

I just attended the China clean car conference, where Chinese automakers were boasting that their 2008 cars will meet “Euro 4” — European Union — emissions standards. We used to be the gold standard. We aren’t anymore. Last July, Microsoft, fed up with American restrictions on importing brain talent, opened its newest software development center in Vancouver. That’s in Canada, folks. If Disney World can remain an open, welcoming place, with increased but invisible security, why can’t America?

That Friedman would compare the complexity involved in our government securing this country over the relative ease with which security measures can be implemented at one of our nation’s most popular theme parks is a powerful indicator of the sheer and utter cluelessness that pervades 9/10 Democrats today on many issues, but especially ones related to our national security (like on the Patriot Act, Gitmo, warrantless wiretaps, etc, as Prairie Pundit touches on here). Mr. Friedman, the United States is not a theme park. It’s a country. It should be obvious that different rules apply, but then again, Friedman demonstrates in his stunningly ignorant essay that perhaps the obvious isn’t so obvious to people like him who believe that making it a priority to fight terrorists after Islamofascists murdered 3000 innocents on 9/11 was misguided and, in essence “anti-American.”

More, from Friedman:

We can’t afford to keep being this stupid! We have got to get our groove back. We need a president who will unite us around a common purpose, not a common enemy. Al Qaeda is about 9/11. We are about 9/12, we are about the Fourth of July — which is why I hope that anyone who runs on the 9/11 platform gets trounced.

Angevin at The Oxford Medievalist responds:

For Friedman and the rest of the left who adopt a frivilous and rather ignorant view of the threat of Islamofascist terrorism, the measures taken since 9/11 that have, in fact, staved off attack after attack and kept us safe are the root of all of the problems Friedman observes. I do, however, agree with Friedman’s argument that “We need a president who will unite us around a common purpose, not a common enemy,” although not at the expense of properly understanding and combating the enemy we face. Or, in some instances, with some people, that we even face an enemy – and it’s not George W. Bush. It’s a shame that people like Friedman can’t unite around the common purpose of defeating terrorism, but can quite easily unite around a platform of promoting tourism and “getting our groove back.” Rather than a 9/11 or even a 9/12 candidate, what Friedman really wants for America is a “9/10 candidate.” “Al Qaeda is about 9/11,” Friedman remarks. What he and the rest of the left fail to understand is that 9/11 changed everything – Al Qaeda and the need to defeat terrorism is not just about 9/11, but about every day thereafter.


To lefties like Tom Friedman, the US’ focus on trying to prevent another terrorist attack on our soil has cost us our reputation worldwide, as if we should base the security of this country on what the international community has to say about it. This is the same type of dangerous thinking we saw from the 2004 Democratic nominee for president John Kerry, who advocated in 2004 that before the US acts in self-defense, that her rationale for doing so should be subjected to a “global test.” After all, we don’t want to alienate the ‘progressive’ elites in European countries whose passive approaches to the ever-growing threat of Islamofascism have proven to be “successful” only for Islamofascists (read more on that via AJ Strata), do we?

Tom Friedman: Writing out the left’s “We must bow to Dhimmitude” screed, so they don’t have to.

Also blogging about this: Jules Crittenden, Warner Todd Huston at Stop The ACLU, The Hatemongers’ Quarterly, Don Surber

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