I’m not generally much of a fan of the Moustache of Understanding. His disinclination to dig in to actual trade agreements, and his thus ill-informed boosting of globalization, gives serious free-traders like Jagdish Bhagwati and Paul Krugman a bad name. Moreover, he’s provided “liberal” cover for far too many Bush administration initiatives; see here for a particularly egregious example. At best, he’s a free-market Lou Dobbs; at worst, he’s the NYT‘s David Broder.
But not today. After starting out with a nice Onion reference (for satisfying the yoots), he really digs in:
We don’t need another president of 9/11. We need a president for 9/12. I will only vote for the 9/12 candidate.
What does that mean? This: 9/11 has made us stupid. I honor, and weep for, all those murdered on that day. But our reaction to 9/11 — mine included — has knocked America completely out of balance, and it is time to get things right again.
It is not that I thought we had new enemies that day and now I don’t. Yes, in the wake of 9/11, we need new precautions, new barriers. But we also need our old habits and sense of openness. For me, the candidate of 9/12 is the one who will not only understand who our enemies are, but who we are.
Before 9/11, the world thought America’s slogan was: “Where anything is possible for anybody.” But that is not our global brand anymore. Our government has been exporting fear, not hope: “Give me your tired, your poor and your fingerprints.”
You may think Guantánamo Bay is a prison camp in Cuba for Al Qaeda terrorists. A lot of the world thinks it’s a place we send visitors who don’t give the right answers at immigration. I will not vote for any candidate who is not committed to dismantling Guantánamo Bay and replacing it with a free field hospital for poor Cubans. Guantánamo Bay is the anti-Statue of Liberty.
I’d love to see us salvage something decent in Iraq that might help tilt the Middle East onto a more progressive pathway. That was and is necessary to improve our security. But sometimes the necessary is impossible — and we just can’t keep chasing that rainbow this way.
We can’t afford to keep being this stupid! We have got to get our groove back. We need a president who will unite us around a common purpose, not a common enemy. Al Qaeda is about 9/11. We are about 9/12, we are about the Fourth of July — which is why I hope that anyone who runs on the 9/11 platform gets trounced.
I have my issues with this piece. I don’t think we need a president of 9/12; if anything, 9/12 was the day we went from mournful to vengeful. And I think some of Friedman’s tangents about infrastructure and tourism (which I’ve left out) can come across as petty. But still, for the same man who said that we needed to invade Iraq to tell them to “suck on this” to write such a nakedly emotional plea to overcome the terrorism hype and reclaim America’s place in the world is heartening. Friedman deserves credit where it’s due, and it’s certainly due here.