You should be made to wear earphones.In the most shameful “gaffe” since Watergate, socialist prime minister Barack Obama’s press office has apparently put some crappy best-seller book on his vacation reading list even though he was supposedly reading the book last year. God, this guy. Why not just put him in jail now?

Obama’s spokesman told reporters Monday from Martha’s Vineyard that No. 2 on the president’s list was Tom Friedman’s environmental bestseller Hot, Flat, and Crowded. The only problem? Obama was reading the same book, talking about it, even quoting from it a year ago on the campaign trail.


Thank you, The Daily Beast, for ripping the lid off this Crime of the Century.

Tragically for many literate Americans, Obama isn’t the only person who can’t get through Friedman’s latest conventional-wisdom assault on the English language. For some reason — HONESTLY, CAN ANYONE EXPLAIN THIS? — Friedman’s dumb books full of “I went golfing somewhere in India, reminding me of the Asian pizza I ate at the airport in Dubai” globalization-fellating idiocy are Required Reading in certain middlebrow circles. It’s the kind of thing your boss might give you, along with a weird look suggesting you should read the tripe before the next middle-manager conference down at the Best Western.

Anyway, once “going green” became so safely uncontroversial that motherfucking Garfield was eating solar-powered lasagna, it was time for Tom Friedman to incoherently rebuke everything he ever wrote before — about Earth and how for some insane reason he thinks saying it’s “flat” is some deep enigmatic statement of the times rather than, really, just an idiot trying to make up a catch phrase. So, once the carbon-farting global golfer hitched his tortured prose to the Green bandwagon, everybody in every management situation had to act like they read this awful book.

But they didn’t. Nobody read the whole thing. Of course it’s still on Barack Obama’s fake reading list. And there it will stay, year after year, just like back in the 1990s when Dan Quayle comically claimed that he tried (and failed) to read Niccolo Machiavelli’s The Prince each summer, because that seemed — to Dan Quayle, anyway — like the kind of thing a politician maybe should’ve know about, 20 years ago.

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  1. Nobody posted a reply to you either. Good god! That must be one awful fuckin’ book!

    Seriously, though, President Obama may be ‘re-reading’ the damn thing, even, re-re-reading it. Hmmmm?

    I do the same quite often, though not, of course, any piece of wretched pulp by that reprobate Friedman.

  2. They claim George Bush read hundreds of books while he was in office, and Obama by comparison only reads a few. Maybe that’s because Obama’s actually been working for his presidency, rather than vacationing on ranches where the only way to restrain your impulse to pull a Mr. Hands is to commit Barry Goldwater’s anarchist diatribe to memory.

    What is this Obama doing working anyway? That’s not the American way to do your job: short, forceful bursts of energy followed by 4 straight years of takin’ it eeeeeeeasy.

  3. The other problem is how bad Friedman’s writing is. I don’t mean because it’s middle-brow or politically unsophisticated, I mean bad in the sense that he can’t write. I could add any number of snarky comments but Matt Taibbi did it already and did it so satisfyingly that you never want to read or write anything else about Friedman after reading these:

  4. Wait until he reads The World is Flat. Friedman bought airplane tickets on the internet, ahead of time! Holy fucking shit! And Netscape, my God, Netscape! Fuuuccckkk!

  5. I guess its either physically impossible or morally wrong to read a book twice, huh?

    Is there any legal way to deport Tina Brown and her Daily Beast, or rendition her? God I hate that woman.

  6. [re=394090]Potater[/re]: The funniest was when Bush(or his minions) claimed he was reading the Stranger by Camus. We all know that Bush didn’t read anything- Laura the librarian might have given him 15 word(or fewer) synopses of some books.

  7. I wonder how Tommy feels to be one of the displaced who are watching what they work for slowly go down the drain (thanks to those freebie “blogs” who ruin everything!) considering his “I’ll feast on Sugar Mommy’s scraps” Plan went to shit when Sugar Mommy’s Family Mall/Real Estate corp went Chapter 11 (Sugar Mommy’s on a low millionaire instead of billionaire, now.)

    I was one of those whose boss “urged” me to read the brilliance of Tommy Fried’s books. I’ve never forgiven him for that (nor my now former boss.)

  8. A Taibbi excerpt:

    Like George W. Bush with his Bushisms, Friedman came up with lines so hilarious you couldn’t make them up even if you were trying — and when you tried to actually picture the “illustrative” figures of speech he offered to explain himself, what you often ended up with was pure physical comedy of the Buster Keaton/Three Stooges school, with whole nations and peoples slipping and falling on the misplaced banana peels of his literary endeavors.

    Remember Friedman’s take on Bush’s Iraq policy? “It’s OK to throw out your steering wheel,” he wrote, “as long as you remember you’re driving without one.” Picture that for a minute. Or how about Friedman’s analysis of America’s foreign policy outlook last May:

    “The first rule of holes is when you’re in one, stop digging. When you’re in three, bring a lot of shovels.”

    First of all, how can any single person be in three holes at once? Secondly, what the fuck is he talking about? If you’re supposed to stop digging when you’re in one hole, why should you dig more in three? How does that even begin to make sense?

    It’s the “Secondly” part that makes it sing. Plus the banana peels.

  9. I think you’ve got this all wrong, Ken… It’s not the the same book!

    He’s currently reading the “Hot, Flat and Crowded: Your Martha’s Vineyard Vacation”

  10. Thomas “suck on this” Friedman’s books are disqualified from being on anyone’s reading list based solely on that retarded cop mustache polluting his upper lip. No one with such an awful mustache can be taken seriously by anyone.

  11. [re=394093]LoweredPeninsula[/re]: “I guess its either physically impossible or morally wrong to read a book twice, huh?

    We’re talking about a Friedman book, here, so yes. On both counts.

    The next six months will be critical to finishing Friedman’s book. Also.

  12. I will finish reading Hot, Flat, and Crowded right after I’m done with another lively page-turner The Audacity of Hope.

    The bit where Senator Barry goes to Google Headquarters was such a compelling read, I really wasn’t able to move past it.

  13. [re=394091]Uncertainty Vice-Principal[/re]: If each time Friedman writes a book Taibbi writes an hilarious screed (with graphs), I say let Friedman write all the books he wants.

  14. [re=394127]wheelie[/re]: That would be awesome if his handlers had put Audacity of Hope on the list.

    The value of the Beast expose is that it reveals that shit like “what Obama is reading on his summer vacation” has been spun and packaged by political professionals into meaninglessness. It’s a content-free communication.

  15. Beach books are supposed to be thick paperbacks with lots of action (in and out of bed – preferably slightly kinky in the later case). Remember the first time you read “The Carpetbagger?”

    NPR had a long involved contest/survey to identify 100 beach books and about 95 of them were exactly what you’d expect from an NPR list of beach books. Boring!

    The best beach book ever is Stuart Woods’ “Dirt.” You betcha!

  16. [re=394139]jodyleek[/re]: My sentiments exactly. Taibbi is the exact opposite of Friedman in many ways, him I could read all day long.

    He did some more hilarious Friedman deconstructions on his blog (Google “Taibblog”) but last I saw he was actually trying to swear off writing about him for his 40th birthday. I think he already fell off the wagon though.

  17. Instead of reading Hot, Flat, and Crowded, Obama spent his time re-reading Das Kapital while eating babies and figuring out a way to get his government paws on old people’s Medicare.

  18. [re=394119]hobospacejunkie[/re]:
    Hi Friend & Friends. Happy Birthday Hobo! Believe it or not I am on my way to Cape Cod for the day. Probably won’t make it to the Vineyard. (Although I do have a huge crush on Chuck Todd, Geraldo & that UBS madoff dude.) Well, I will give you all a full report (if anything interesting happens) when I return!

  19. [re=394148]Keram2[/re]: If that’s his plan, smarter would be to appoint Bush in a new cabinet position to get the government’s paws on old people’s Soc Security. Then the right would cheer about it.

  20. Saying you read Friedman on your vacation is like drinking a bud light during a beer summit. Tasteless, watery swill that’s guranteed not to agitate anyone except us.

  21. [re=394119]hobospacejunkie[/re]: He thinks the moustache makes him look like a fireman. Or a cop. Or a guy in a hardhat. Who can dig three holes at once.


    August 25, 2009 (Martha’s Vineyard)—-The White House has released several more books that are on President Obama’s summer vacation reading list. The books that are on President Obama’s reading list also include:

    –“The Joy of Sex”
    –“Fear of Flying”
    –“A Clockwork Orange”
    –“The Exorcist”
    –“American Psycho”
    –“The Insider”
    –“The Godfather”
    –“Stranger in a Strange Land”
    –“2001: A Space Odyssey”
    –“Profiles in Courage”

  23. [re=394091]Uncertainty Vice-Principal[/re]: Thank you. I’m going to go to those links. TF, that sanctimonious windbag first came into my world view when he was everywhere on the teevees helping sell the war. I just wanted to snatch him bald and yell, “Just say it, pompous NY pseudo-intellectual jew guy: you want to set yourself apart from Dowd and Rich (the only reason to read the NYT being the latter) by being the only toney liberal who’s pushing the war.

    Hmmm. How’s that workin’ our fer ya’ now, smart guy? Oh, what’s that you say? You’re not talking about freedom fairy dust anymore? Fuck you.

    Only, Matt Taibi can say it smarter, meaner and funnier.

    OT–I’ve felt like shit and been vaguely depressed about it, but reading wonkette and getting my daily dose of vitriol is perking me up, and it’s cheaper than antidepressants. Take that, Big Phrma.

  24. Isn’t it obvious that they put this story out there to explain why photos of him were taken ‘reading’ Tom Friedman’s book? I’d put $20 down saying he recycled the cover and put it over a Twilight book. Gotta be ready for the new movie!

  25. For some reason I am reminded of the story this week that Annie Leibowitz sold all her photo rights to a swanky NY pawn shop for 24 mil and pissed it away in less than a year. Now that she’s about to lose everything her excuse is that her dad and her lover Ms. Sontag had “health issues,” that evidently were very costly.

    This happens to an arguably certifiable genius, and yet a fat, self-obsessed, intellectual dilitante like Friedman, has more money than God, and can spend his time crapping out un-readable pamplets.

    No snark here – I just had to get that out.

  26. Was anyone ever planning to explain what the Tweet/Retweet buttons do? Am I just supposed to ignore them like those Digg buttons on, let’s say, failblog. I am so clueless about this second version of the series of tubes…

    On topic, though, every US American should have the right to press release their (comically fake) summer reading lists, e.g. Week one: Ulysses, Week two: Infinite Jest, Week Three: A Brief History of TIme, Week Four: Anna Karenina, etc]. I look forward to Sarah Palin’s.

  27. When did it become cool to hate Thomas Freidmen? I don’t agree with everything the guy says, and he does mix his metaphors, but Hot Flat and Crowded is a pretty good screed on globalization and its relation to the coming environmental catastrophe. I mean, he repeats himself sometimes and his sentences get a little confused, but beautiful flowing prose isn’t exactly the point.

    I mean, the whole point of the book is that rapid industrialization in the developing world (mostly China and India) is basically inevitable, which makes environmental collapse basically inevitable. We have no right to tell them that they can’t live the psychotic unsustainable, gas induced lifestlye that everyone posting on this board has been living since birth, so we might as well start trying to think of solution of how to slow the change and deal with our changing world, instead of just yelling at eachother about it.

    As for the Iraq war thing. He was wrong, people fuck up. But shouting about that as a method of repudiating his points about the global economy makes you look like a group-thinking idiot.


  28. [re=394259]sezme[/re]: Thanks. Those tweet buttons have been annoying me, as well, because I think there must be a part of even more brief attention-spanned wonkeratti twatting shit funnier than here, except in indecipherable–no, shorter, quicker, and therefore flatter but profoundly insightful and funny snippets. But fuck that. They can go twat with Sarah Palin.

    Thomas Friedman has his amazing insights in the same way hippies used to have profound thoughts and see connections in the cosmos when we were tripping. “Wow, man. I was getting queasy and sick, but as soon as I left the shore and got into the water in Hood Canal it was like, you know, going back to the beginning and then it was okay.” (except I said that in a simultaneous narration of my own acid trip and when I was straight again, realized, That doesn’t make any sense at all.)

    Friedman’s fake intellectualism has that kind of shallow connectional thought. “A bird. Flying and beautiful and then it slams into my patio door and lays there, dead as dodo while the cat eats it and I realized that steam engines are the power of the past and the dialup is the canary. WTF????

  29. [re=394236]DustBowlBlues[/re]: I feel like you were channeling my thoughts exactly. Including the OT feeling like shit.

    As for Superspam: I found validation in Taibi’s writing long before I discovered Wonkette. My husband and I were so sickened by Friendless even while he was cheerleading us into the war, that we were grateful that we weren’t the only ones who noticed. (In those days we felt pretty isolated.) There is nothing wrong with writing criticism of someone’s thinking/writing, especially if they are supposedly having some voice in the public dialogue. Hating him is just bonus.

  30. [re=394246]liquiddaddy[/re]: Otoh Friedman’s wife owns a shopping mall company, I believe, and so he’s suffered from the economic fibrillations like just about anybody else.

  31. [re=394291]geminisunmars[/re]: Thanks. I would hate for Taibi to read my thoughts or the shit I write because I know I would come out looking retarded, but I’m not being paid good money by the NYT for writing it.

    Dickwads like Friedman can’t be given a pass. He just says the obvious. Chinese guys makin’ lots of money off us will want more cars. EPIPHANY!!!! No, just obvious shit that development specialists were saying decades ago about the facts of life when a poor nation gets a little disposable income. Hell, this was a given back in the early 70s when I was in graduate school.

    And, sorry Friedman fan, but the shit he was saying about the war made absolutely no sense when he said it. I’d never noticed this dick before, but hated him from that moment on. He just struck me as someone who should have known better. Frank Rich was generous enough to leave him out of his book about selling the war (as far as I can remember. I regifted it at Xmas to someone who didn’t read it and don’t know how to ask for it back, if she hasn’t exchanged it at a used bookstore. Bitch didn’t even give me a gift in return) but Rich’s indictment of Lieberman and Wolfowitz extends, I think, to Friedman. Somehow, the war in Iraq was getting even for the Holocaust. Frankly, I thought that’s was the point of fucking over the Palestinians to create a Jewish state. I never did work out what a secular tyrant like Saddam Hussein had to do with it.

    And gemini and I probably have something else in common: No one who questioned my patriotism when I openly opposed the invasion of Iraq (but have now soured on the war) have bothered apologizing to me.

    So I read wonkette. Fuck them. (But I’ll be damned if I’ll twat to wonket)

  32. I actually forgot to mention the other major point of Hot Flat and Crowded, which is a very long-winded, but pretty iron-clad argument that America’s economic salvation lies in taxing the shit out of gas and the creative destruction that will come out of revitalizing and modernizing our absurd energy systems. Yes, he may be “stating the obvious,” but he’s stating the obvious in a way that actually seems to persuade people who may have been on the fence about it. Who here on this board could be against that?

    I simply separate his idiotic Iraq war statements (and they were idiotic, and I do NOT forgive him for them) from his pretty solid global economics statements. The guy is a complex figure, not satan or that sexually repressed weirdo who wrote Twilight.

    “There is nothing wrong with writing criticism of someone’s thinking/writing, especially if they are supposedly having some voice in the public dialogue. Hating him is just bonus.” I wasn’t saying that, shit you can hate him all you want. He’s pretentious and has a shit-eating grin. But to deny that he has relevant ideas about the global economy as it relates to the (as of yet) theoretical green economy is completely illogical.

    “And, sorry Friedman fan, but the shit he was saying about the war made absolutely no sense when he said it. I’d never noticed this dick before, but hated him from that moment on.” This comment shows that the moment you saw that I was gonna defend Freidmen, you stopped really reading it, because if you HAD read it you would have noticed that I was saying that he was WRONG about Iraq, but RIGHT about other stuff. It’s funny, you started shouting about his Iraq war views to repudiate MY view that HIS views on the global economy might have some merit, while saying that you weren’t group-thinking. Awesome.

    Also, Links, why do you think that reading a book that you disagree with (and obviously have never read) disqualifies him for being president? REALLY?

  33. [re=394472]Superspam[/re]: You’ve made some points, but to me he is such a ludicrous writer, and others have written better about those topics without all the fanfare that he somehow manages to receive, coupled with his previous betrayals – that anything he writes is not worth bothering with (not even once, much less twice).

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