Thomas Friedman calls GOP morally bankrupt, criticizes John McCain
Thomas Friedman is drawing attention for his blistering column about the state of the Republican Party, which he thinks should “declare moral bankruptcy” and start over.
The three-time Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist said the United States needs a healthy two-party system but that the Grand Old Party is not doing its part, which traditionally has been to advocate for market-based solutions and sound fiscal policy. Instead, he said, it’s merely an empty shell willing to sell itself off to the highest bidders — untethered from principled, center-right conservatism.
On Tuesday, in an opinion piece for the New York Times, Friedman lambasted top Republican leaders — who had been willing to buck the party line in the past — for throwing their support behind Donald Trump despite his history of off-color comments.
He was perplexed that Ryan would still endorse Trump after the businessman questioned Judge Gonzalo Curiel’s ability to preside over the Trump University lawsuit without bias because of his Mexican heritage. Ryan called this a “textbook definition” of racism but said it’s worth backing Trump because he will sign off on a Republican agenda.
“Really? Mr. Speaker, your agenda is a mess, Trump will pay even less attention to you if he is president and, as Senator Lindsey Graham rightly put it, there has to be a time ‘when the love of country will trump hatred of Hillary,’” Friedman wrote. “Will it ever be that time with this version of the G.O.P.?”
Friedman also reprimanded Arizona Sen. John McCain and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.
“Et tu, John McCain? You didn’t break under torture from the North Vietnamese, but your hunger for re-election is so great that you don’t dare raise your voice against Trump? I hope you lose. You deserve to. Marco Rubio? You called Trump ‘a con man,’ he insults your very being and you still endorse him? Good riddance.”
Trump sparked controversy back in July when he said McCain is not a war hero, even though he spent more than five years in a notorious North Vietnamese prison: “He’s not a war hero. He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured. OK, I hate to tell you.”
In an interview with “Morning Joe” Wednesday morning, Friedman admitted to being deeply disappointed in McCain because of how much he respects him. But, Friedman said, McCain wants to get reelected in Arizona, where the party’s base has backed Trump.
“Truly a war hero. A great American patriot,” he said of McCain. “Imagine if John were out there right now talking the way you both have been talking this morning. Clear. Principled. I don’t think Trump would survive. I think this thing would be in a very different place right now. There are few people in that party whose voices count more than others, and his is certainly one of them.”
In the op-ed, Friedman also went after New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a man who famously (or infamously depending on which side you’re on) worked with President Obama in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy despite a fast-arriving general election. Now, according to Friedman, it seems that Christie is more interested in currying favor with the potential future president than defending his minority constituents against slander.
“Chris Christie, have you not an ounce of self-respect?” Friedman wrote. “You’re serving as the valet to a man who claimed, falsely, that on 9/11, in Jersey City, home to many Arab-Americans, ‘thousands and thousands of people were cheering as that building was coming down.’ Christie is backing a man who made up a baldfaced lie about residents of his own state so that maybe he can be his vice president. Contemptible.”