The Lexus and the Cherry Tree

Despite the adage about Carnegie Hall, the rule about practice does not apply to that musician of language known as Tom Friedman. Because Friedman, whose walrus mustache makes him look like a king among burghers and the in-house philosopher of Burger King, also looks like a 19th-century soldier in a 21st-century world.

He looks like a weekend warrior at a re-enactment of the Battle of Gettysburg, who plays dead until some six-foot-four stand-in for Abraham Lincoln takes the stage to speak about government of the people, by the people, for the people.

From the words of this man, with his fake beard and spirit gum, does Friedman rise; resolving to give readers of the New York Times a new birth of inane commentary and multiple rounds of character assassination.

His latest column reads like an excerpt from a revised edition of his book The Lexus and the Olive Tree, forgoing an evergreen of the Mediterranean for a cherry tree of Mount Vernon.

This George Washington of dentition attempts to tear apart Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. 

Friedman says Pompeo, who graduated first in his class at West Point, must have failed all his classes on ethics and leadership. 

By equating officers in the foreign service with members of the armed forces, by refusing to distinguish between the State Department and the Department of Defense, Friedman accuses Pompeo of conduct unbecoming an officer. 

He charges him with the equivalent of murder, of having shot a sister in arms. He charges him with cowardice, too, of having left this woman to die on the battlefield.

Careless in his writing and callous in his treatment of the Soldier’s Creed, Friedman would criminalize politics and condemn a former soldier for the continuation of war by political means.

Unable to accept that the commander in chief heads the chain of command—and unwilling to acknowledge that Pompeo serves at the pleasure of the president—Friedman has no sense of decency.

About Bill Asher

Bill Asher is a writer and retired executive. He lives with his family in Massachusetts.

Photo: Mike Cohen/Getty Images for the New York Times

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