NYT’s Friedman Admits He Voted for Obama Hoping President Could Transform America

Appearing on Charlie Rose’s eponymous PBS program Wednesday night, Thomas Friedman of The New York Times divulged some of his true feelings about President Obama.

From the comfort of Rose’s famous black-backgrounded studio, the veteran journalist revealed the one thing that disappointed him most about the president. Was it the botched rollout of ObamaCare? No, in fact, Friedman is an optimistic supporter of the law. Indeed, he told Rose, “I hope we do have national health care. I hope it works. I don’t know if it will, but I hope it works. I think it actually is the right idea for the right time.”

 

Friedman made clear that Obama had done “a lot of good things,” but there was one thing he had failed to do. Friedman explained what that was, and in the process admitted that he voted for Obama:

"[T]he thing that has frustrated me most about him, Charlie, is that I voted for him for one reason. I'm not supposed to say who I voted for, but people -- I voted for him for one reason. I thought he would change the polls, not read the polls. And he's done a lot more reading of the polls than changing of the polls."
 

So Friedman was one of those who hoped Obama would be a transformational figure. He hoped the president would bend Americans’ views toward his own views, rather than doing what the people wanted. Friedman wanted a left-wing crusader, not a public servant. Many others shared that hope back in 2008.

The columnist then complained that Obama has never really challenged his own base. Such a move, according to Friedman, would give the president the moral authority to challenge the Republicans. It was a fair point, but Friedman went and negated it by providing a rebuttal for Obama. He started by shifting blame onto the GOP:
 

"Now in fairness to Obama, I think he is dealing with the craziest version of the Republican Party that any modern president has had to deal with."
 

Friedman then imagined Obama’s response to his suggestion that the president challenge his own base:

"And his comeback would be, so I challenge my base and I lose them, am I gonna get the Republicans coming to me? And in fairness I can't say that he would. I think we are dealing with a Republican Party now that is being led around by a Tea Party cult, whatever it is."
 

So it’s the Republicans’ fault that President Obama can’t challenge his own base? This gives new meaning to GOP obstructionism. A “Tea Party cult” is making it unfeasible for Obama to challenge his own base so that he can gain the moral authority to challenge Republicans. You’ve got to love that liberal logic.

Below is a transcript of the segment:

THOMAS FRIEDMAN: I guess my general, you know -- I guess the president’s done a lot of good things that I would praise him for. I hope we do have national health care. I hope it works. I don’t know if it will, but I hope it works. I think it actually is the right idea for the right time. Things he's done on auto mileage and, you know I -- there's things he's done that I really, really like but the thing that has frustrated me most about him, Charlie, is that I voted for him for one reason. I'm not supposed to say who I voted for, but people -- I voted for him for one reason. I thought he would change the polls, not read the polls. And he's done a lot more reading of the polls than changing of the polls, and it gets back to the Kerry piece and it gets back to the piece I wrote about Nelson Mandela. What was it that gave Nelson Mandela that moral authority? It's that at times he was unafraid to challenge his own base. And I would say that Obama has never really gotten in the face of his own base which gave Mandela then the moral authority to challenge the whites in a way that would give Obama the authority to challenge Republicans in a different way. Now in fairness to Obama, I think he is dealing with the craziest version of the Republican Party that any modern president has had to deal with. And his comeback would be, so I challenge my base and I lose them, am I gonna get the Republicans coming to me? And in fairness I can't say that he would. I think we are dealing with a Republican Party now that is being led around by a Tea Party cult, whatever it is.



CHARLIE ROSE: Although the latest budget may suggest that’s less of a powerful...

FRIEDMAN: And I hope so.  But I think so in fairness to him. But I would love him to take these next three years and just say, I'm going to put on the table all the stuff that’s off the table.

Paul Bremmer
Paul Bremmer is a Media Research Center News Analysis Division intern.