Tom Friedman unlocked his cage—again. He took his cardboard suitcase, tricycle, typewriter, cigarettes, cymbals, and red onesie, and pedaled toward the Man with the Yellow Hat. Then he mad-libbed his latest column. Per usual, he mixed more metaphors than the Good Intentions Paving Company, indicted President Trump for more crimes than there are criminal statutes, and did not stop typing until the carriage had gone “click.” The finished product reads like a mash-up of the death of Hal, when Dave Bowman deactivates the computer’s circuits and the machine regresses to its earliest programmed memory, the song “Daisy Bell,” which it sings for Bowman, and a re-enactment of Neo’s rescue by the Nebuchadnezzar, where, after having lain in a torn dentist’s chair for 10 hours straight, The One learns jiujitsu—and kung fu.
(Try reading Friedman’s column—aloud—as fast as you can, as many times you as can, before you feel the pinch of a hypodermic needle, shot from a dart gun, and lose consciousness. Or do the same thing, inside a windowless room, in an effort to answer a question as old as the scriptures and as clear the autumn sky in New York City: “Kenneth, what is the frequency?”)
Whatever you do, do not look for consistency from a columnist whose outrage toward China is so outrageous because it is so selective. Gone is his admiration for a regime that persecutes Christians, not that that is the reason why Friedman admires China, and up comes a fusillade against President Trump—and Bibi Netanyahu—for Beijing’s torture and murder of Chinese Muslims. Friedman (like Bret Stephens) seals his indictment by inserting Netanyahu’s name as a form of kashrut. Rather, he treats Netanyahu as political trayf: unlawful, unrighteous, and unholy.
Between his hatred of Trump and Netanyahu, Friedman includes eight couplets from the song “Anything Goes.”
Anything goes, indeed, except Friedman’s return to Turtle Back Zoo.