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April 22, 2005

The Bleeder From Brandeis

The boxer Chuck Wepner was nicknamed the "Bayonne Bleeder." He was nationally renowned for his ability to absorb tremendous amounts of punishment—while bleeding copiously on his opponents—yet not go down.

I think of Wepner every time I watch Thomas Friedman get in the ring with the English language. Friedman is always overmatched, and takes relentless, crushing blows. You watch and think he's out. You think no man could withstand such horrific abuse. Yet the next week he pops up again, covered in blood, on the editorial page of the New York Times. This is why I like to call Thomas Friedman the "Bleeder from Brandeis."

Matt Taibbi has tracked this extraordinary phenomenon for some time. Here he analyzes what may be Friedman's most gruesome performance yet:

I think it was about five months ago that Press editor Alex Zaitchik whispered to me in the office hallway that Thomas Friedman had a new book coming out. All he knew about it was the title, but that was enough; he approached me with the chilled demeanor of a British spy who has just discovered that Hitler was secretly buying up the world's manganese supply. Who knew what it meant—but one had to assume the worst...
It's not that [Friedman] occasionally screws up and fails to make his metaphors and images agree. It's that he always screws it up. He has an anti-ear, and it's absolutely infallible; he is a Joyce or a Flaubert in reverse...
Posted at April 22, 2005 11:31 AM | TrackBack

A herd animal that hunts: a pig. For truffles.

Not that I'm defending Friedman.

Posted by: alexis S at April 22, 2005 12:29 PM