Wise words from Thomas Friedman

Thomas Friedman, with whom I have an ongoing love/hate relationship–I unsubscribed from the NYTimes back in 2003 largely because of his seeming lock-step approval of war and the Bush admin–has in the last year gained my deep appreciation for his clarity of thought and insight.  I’m sure he’ll be relieved to know I’m back on board.

Anyhoo, I’ve been telling everyone I can to read and consider this Sunday’s editorial, entitled Vote for ( ).  Individual NYT contributors aren’t allowed to make endorsements for public office, so he sidesteps that…but his preference in this election is transparent and heartening.

More significant to me, though, was this: he makes clear that whoever wins will inherit an economy in shambles, a world deeply divided, and a country that is basically demoralized.  No one person will be able to change the exceptionally difficult times we’re facing–and neither candidate is facing or discussing this reality in the election or debates.

We are all going to have to pay, because this meltdown comes in the context of what has been “perhaps the greatest wealth transfer since the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia in 1917,” says Michael Mandelbaum, author of “Democracy’s Good Name.” “It is not a wealth transfer from rich to poor that the Bush administration will be remembered for. It is a wealth transfer from the future to the present.”

Never has one generation spent so much of its children’s wealth in such a short period of time with so little to show for it as in the Bush years.”

He concludes, then, by suggesting we vote based on the leadership and character of the candidate, because the new president will be facing a set of challenges that will require a united country, focused on solutions. What a concept.

First, we need a president who can speak English and deconstruct and navigate complex issues so Americans can make informed choices. We have paid an enormous price for having a president who could not explain and reassure us during this financial meltdown….

Second, we need a president who can energize, inspire and hold the country together during what will be a very stressful recovery. We have to climb out of this financial crisis at a time when the baby boomers are about to retire and going to need their Social Security and eventually Medicare.

Third, we need a president who can rally the world to our side. We cannot get out of this crisis unless China starts consuming more and unless Europe keeps lowering interest rates. Everyone is interconnected, and everyone is still looking to America to lead.

Vote for the candidate you think has the smarts, temperament and inspirational capacity to unify the country and steer our ship through what could be the rockiest shoals our generation has ever known. Your kids will thank you.

Thanks, Mr. Friedman–your clarity is much appreciated.

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