Example of Column That Doesn’t Change My Mind

September 10, 2009

In my last post about Camille Paglia I promised to post examples of columnists that do a poor job of spelling out the through process they used to arrive at their opinion.  I didn’t have to look far.  Russ Roberts of Cafe Hayek and George Mason University posted a link to this Thomas Friedman column, which contains this paragraph:

The fact is, on both the energy/climate legislation and health care legislation, only the Democrats are really playing. With a few notable exceptions, the Republican Party is standing, arms folded and saying “no.” Many of them just want President Obama to fail. Such a waste. Mr. Obama is not a socialist; he’s a centrist. But if he’s forced to depend entirely on his own party to pass legislation, he will be whipsawed by its different factions.

It was hard for me to get past “Republican Party is standing, arms folded and saying ‘no” because  it isn’t true.  Republican solutions call for shrinking government or reducing government involvement.

Democrats aren’t interested in listening to the merits of those ideas.   Whether Friedman is committing an intentional lie or  simply didn’t do his homework, at that point of the column I get an overwhelming feeling that there’s no need spend any more time on it.

Had I turned that column in as an assignment, my 10th grade Civics teacher would have stopped reading at that point, marked an F and “More Work To Do” on top of my paper and handed it back to me advising me that blatant misrepresentation of the opposing viewpoint is unacceptable for 10th grade work.

I pressed on with Friedman’s columns for the sake of this post.  Then I come to:

Look at the climate/energy bill that came out of the House. Its sponsors had to work twice as hard to produce this breakthrough cap-and-trade legislation. Why? Because with basically no G.O.P. representatives willing to vote for any price on carbon that would stimulate investments in clean energy and energy efficiency, the sponsors had to rely entirely on Democrats — and that meant paying off coal-state and agriculture Democrats with pork. Thank goodness, it is still a bill worth passing. But it could have been much better — and can be in the Senate. Just give me 8 to 10 Republicans ready to impose some price on carbon, and they can be leveraged against Democrats who want to water down the bill.

Why doesn’t Friedman try to understand why Republicans oppose the bill or assess the merits of their position?  Sloppy.

And, the fact that this type of column plays well with some is concerning.  I get turned off with conservatives write such things too.  I will look for examples from the conservative side in the future.

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