During Rudy Giuliani's speech at the Republican National Convention last Wednesday, attendees were heard loudly chanting, "Drill, baby, drill"...and New York Times columnist Tom Friedman isn't happy about it.
On Sunday's "Meet the Press," Friedman incorrectly asserted that folks in the world's major oil producing nations would be happy to hear that Americans want to produce more of their own oil, and equated the chant to people in the computer age shouting "IBM Selectric typewriters, IBM Selectric typewriters."
Before analyzing the stupidity of his position, here's the segment in question (video embedded right, relevant section at 1:45):
TOM BROKAW, HOST: It's hard to get the kind of focus that we need on this kind of a challenge in the midst of a political season. Last week they were chanting "drill, baby, drill," at the Republican convention. Senator Obama, speaker Nancy Pelosi have said recently, well they'd be willing to take a look at offshore drilling, even though we know that there wouldn't be any real productivity for 10 more years. Both parties, it seems to me, share a responsibility here and blame at the same time.
TOM FRIEDMAN, NEW YORK TIME COLUMNIST: No, there's no question this has been a bipartisan effort to get us into this alley, dead end, that we're in right now, Tom. But when I hear, drill, drill, drill, or drill, baby, drill, I try to imagine--Tom, you were at the convention, I wasn't, what would happen if the Saudi, Venezuelan, Russian and Nigeria observers were up in a sky box in that Xcel Center listening to the crowd chant, "drill, drill, drill"? What would they be doing? They'd be up there leading the chant. They'd be saying this is great. America isn't sitting there saying, "Invent, invent, invent new, renewable energy," they're saying, "drill, drill, drill." And you know, for me, yes, we do need to exploit our domestic resource. I'm actually not against drilling. What I'm against is making that the center of our focus, because we are on the eve of a new revolution, the energy technology revolution. It would be, Tom, as if on the eve of the IT revolution, the revolution of PCs and the Internet, someone was up there standing and demanding, "IBM Selectric typewriters, IBM Selectric typewriters." That's what drill, drill, drill, is the equivalent of today.
First off, why would nations involved in oil production be happy if America produced a greater percentage of what it currently uses each day? This would reduce the demand for THEIR product and would reduce the price they could sell it to others for.
As such, Friedman's point here was absurd.
Of course, his argument would be that these nations would be happy to hear that America was going to continue to use oil rather than exclusively trying to find alternatives. However, as such alternatives are still years away, there is nothing that's going to significantly reduce how much oil America consumes each day thereby making increased production on our part the only thing that will expeditiously reduce our dependence on others.
That Friedman ignored this is rather shocking given his intellectual capacity.
But maybe even more addle-minded was his analogy that asking for more drilling is akin to folks wanting to replace their computers with typewriters.
After all, computers are currently utilized by virtually every American and every business. As such, America and its citizens are now just as dependent on computers as they are oil.
With this in mind, Friedman's analogy would only hold water if folks at the convention were chanting "Horse-drawn carriages, Horse-drawn carriages."
As I was there, I can assure you that's not what we were saying.