Of “Moderate Androids”

by Will on October 6, 2010

Ta-Nehisi Coates calls bullshit:

From Tom Friedman:

“There is a revolution brewing in the country, and it is not just on the right wing but in the radical center.”

This column is taking some hits today, as it should. I just want to say that the phrase “radical center” is a tell for “I have no real argument, so I’ll resort to cute-sounding oxymorons.”

Coates’s calling of bullshit is hereby upheld. I’d further note that Tom Friedman could have written these very same words at any moment of the last fifteen years, and regardless of the year or the real political situation his meaningless statement would have gelled perfectly with that time’s conventional wisdom, which has long valorized the mythical Centrist Voter. Indeed, it would not surprise me in the least to find a column from 2000 where Friedman’s talking about this silly idea of a “radical center.” And the same hollow phrase could just as easily have issued from the brain of David Brooks, or of Ross Douthat, or any other Reasonable Person who enjoys a perch of high influence and a reputation for moderation. Some people I know who are very smart say that these columnists are worth reading. I have never been able to understand why.

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