KEEP DIGGING, TOM. The Tom Friedman column mocked �round the world (in which he boldly declared for the umpteenth time that "the next six months are crucial in Iraq") just gets funnier as Friedman goes on the defensive. To wit, on CNN today he defended that stereotypically hollow, centrist nonsense with... hollow, centrist nonsense! Money quote, via Think Progress:

So the left � people who hated the war, they want you to declare the war is over, finish, we give up. The right, just the opposite. But I�ve been trying to just simply track the situation on the ground. And the fact is that the outcome there is unclear, and I reflected that in my column.

Here Friedman engages in several typical MSM pundit tactics to discredit his critics. First he implies that everyone on either the right or the left is an ideologue whereas he is a disinterested reporter. He doesn't seem to recognize that one could be, say, a liberal who honestly observes the situation on the ground and comes to realize that the war is unwinnable (like, for example, TNR's Spencer Ackerman). Second, he tries to equate both sides as equally ideological, rigid and pettily pursuing vindication rather than the national interest, thus elevating himself -- the open-minded centrist -- above them. Another way to look at it, given the myriad problems on the ground would be that the left is sticking to their original position because they have been objectively proven right, while the right refuses to budge despite the facts because they always refuse to budge despite the facts (see Jon Chait's recent columns on the conservatives' non-response to a study demolishing their fiscal rationale for tax cuts). Indeed if Friedman really were non-ideological, he'd change his tune, and admit that the war is unwinnable and that the left was right all along. But that would destroy his David Broder-like posture as the man in the middle, so instead he just digs himself deeper...

--Ben Adler

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