Thomas Friedman Can't Stop Comparing Afghanistan to a "Special Needs Baby"
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If you haven't heard -- and that's a big "if," considering it's everywhere -- New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman has come up with a neat new way to understand the situation in Afghanistan. As Friedman metaphors go, it's sure to be a classic, a true stand-out even alongside his most mangled, ridiculous stabs at using figurative language to describe foreign policy. (Consider the time he wrote, about Iraq, “It’s OK to throw out your steering wheel, as long as you remember you’re driving without one.")
Friedman, anyway, is very proud of it. So proud, in fact, he has rolled it out at least twice in the past week.
"I tried to put this in a broader strategic context," he told Chris Matthews on "Hardball" on December 3rd. And where did that lead him?
Chris, as a country, we're like two out-of-work parents who just adopted a special-needs baby.
So, maybe it a poor choice of words. Maybe after the segment, someone took Friedman aside and whispered that comparing whole countries to disabled infants is just a wee bit offensive -- especially when it comes from a supposed foreign policy expert from the country currently occupying it, a man whose ideas are so Important and Influential, he recently played a round of golf with the president of said occupying country.
Then again, maybe not.
Appearing on the Sunday news programs, Friedman again rolled out his Afghanistan-as-special-needs-baby metaphor, telling CNN's Fareed Zakaria:
I feel like we're like an unemployed couple who just went out and decided to adopt a special needs baby. You know, I mean, that's really kind of what we're doing. And that's like, whoa, you know. That terrifies me.
Yes, Friedman apparently gave it some thought after his "Hardball" episode and decided his metaphor is just right, it IS "kind of what we're doing."
Later, appearing on "Meet the Press" with David Gregory alongside another much-respected journalist, the Bush-chronicling Bob Woodward, Friedman gave the metaphor a rest, instead engaging in a little bit wordplay about the 2011 so-called withdrawal date.
MR. GREGORY: Does a withdrawal date give the enemy an advantage? Your analysis on what you've heard the answer on that.
MR. WOODWARD: But I think, I mean, it's pretty clear that's a non-withdrawal withdrawal date. Other words, they were talking about...
MR. GREGORY: A non-denial denial.
MR. WOODWARD: A non-denial denial.
MR. FRIEDMAN: It's a known unknown.
MR. WOODWARD: It, it's a starting point.
MR. GREGORY: Yeah.
Two Pulitzer Prize winners at work here, folks. Be amazed.
Liliana Segura is a staff writer and editor of AlterNet's Rights and Liberties and World Special Coverage.