Why the conventional wisdom matters

Tom Friedman’s denunciation of Romney’s stupid foreign policy ideas is both a Good Thing and a good sign.

DougJ at Balloon Juice mocks Mark Halperin for noting that Mitt Romney has decisively lost “the Tom Friedman primary.”

Granted, as a thinker Friedman is a couple of chapters short of a dissertation, while as a writer he’s a skilled typist. But he can sometimes smell b.s. if he has a stack of it shoved under his nose, and he’s not buying what Romney’s selling on foreign policy. Leave off Friedman’s name, and you have a pretty good indictment of why GOP ideas for overseas are just as bad as their ideas for the home front.

And Halperin is right to notice that this matters: a little bit as a cause, and a lot as a sign. As a cause, Friedman gives all the other Villagers a little bit more permission to forget the even-handedness and moral equivalence and just come out and say that R-money is so full of it his eyes are brown. And as a sign, it shows that one more person with a strong aversion to being on the losing side – a characteristic Friedman shares with Halperin – has decided to put some daylight between himself and the trainwreck.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

4 thoughts on “Why the conventional wisdom matters”

  1. Yes, the real danger is Romney would add new geopolitical meaning, particularly in the Middle East, to Tom Friedman’s “the world is flat”. Most of Romney’s leading advisors are unrepentant neocons, led by the incorrigible John Bolton, who has been serving as a key Romney “surrogate on national security issues”. Remember last December, Gingrich pledged to nominate John Bolton as his Secretary of State before Bolton spurned Gingrich and endorsed Romney. God knows what position Romney would give the mustached uberhawk, if he won. “Bolton is one of eight Romney advisers who signed letters drafted by the Project for a New American Century, “I can’t name a single Romney foreign policy adviser who believes the Iraq War was a mistake,” says Cato’s Preble.

    1. Can you imagine going back to a foreign policy that provokes disgust?
      Holy Mary Mother of God.
      The thought of it is enough to make me hit the donate button again…

  2. It would be good to see Obama confront Romney with the Chamber of Commerce position on China during the “debate,” showing him to be ignorant of the best interests of the American business class, undermining again Romney’s greatest “strength.”

    Of course, this would have an effect on voters only if the post-debate gasbags make a big deal out of how badly Romney was clobbered on this issue. The decisive moment of the debate will not be known until we see which clip the commentators dwell on and play repeatedly. It is they, not the candidates, who determine who “won” the debate. Reagan told Carter “There you go again” exactly once, but the bazillion subsequent repetitions of the clip made a zinger out of something that really did not make a hell of a lot of sense.

    We have here a convenient test of the hypothesis that the Friedman class has decided that Romney is a loser: whichever moment of the joint campaign appearance is designated by them in the post-game show as the knockout blow will tell us what they are determined not to be identified with.

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