New York Times columnist and all-around liberal guru Thomas Friedman appeared on CBS’s Early Show on Friday, proudly declaring that the good news out of Copenhagen will have been the start of what he calls "Earth Race":
HARRY SMITH: Press Secretary Robert Gibbs yesterday said it’s better to come back empty-handed than come back with an empty agreement. Would you go along with that?
FRIEDMAN: Oh, I absolutely would, Harry. Because, you know, while I think you could end up with bad news out of Copenhagen, the good news is that countries all over the world have really started what I like to call the Earth race.
You know, we had a space race back in the 60s, who could be the first to put a man on the Moon. Only two countries involved, only one winner. What we have now and I think the real hope is the Earth race. Who can build the most clean technologies so men and women can stay here on Earth? And that’s a race that many countries can win. In fact, we all have to win together.
And my focus and my aspiration is that the United States would take the lead in that and I think many more countries would actually follow us than will ever do so under the compulsion of any treaty.
Smith polished his guru credentials by following up with oozing gratitude: "Tom Friedman, thank you so much for your insight this morning."
Earlier, the same man who has routinely touted the advantages of China’s "one-party autocracy" as being better than our democracy and fantasized about being "China for a day" mysteriously suggested those Chinese could not be trusted to meet any emissions targets it would accept in Copenhagen:
SMITH: Because the issue with China is China says ‘well, in principle we’re ready to kind of go along with this, but we don’t want you sticking your nose in our business.’ This whole business of transparency, is that what it’s really about?
FRIEDMAN: Yeah, the Chinese have basically said ‘we promise not to go over the speed limit, you know, we promise to drive only 40 miles an hour, but we want no police, no courts, no stop lights,’ no real transparency on their carbon emissions. And the United States is saying and President Obama is saying ‘if you think I can get that through the U.S. Congress, that China promises to be good on carbon, well, I’ve got a bridge in Brooklyn I'd like to sell you.’
SMITH: Speaking of bridges and one that may be also difficult to sell, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was in Copenhagen yesterday and promised that the United States would come up with at least $100 billion to help poorer countries. Does anybody really know that that money is there and that the United States can back up that pledge?
FRIEDMAN: Well, that’s also – I think it took a lot of people by surprise here. Actually, if you read what the Secretary said, it was we will work to get $100 billion from the public and private sector. But what she was basically trying to do was build leverage on the Chinese by holding that carrot out to the developing world. She basically said to the developing world ‘we will get $100 billion for you if you can convince the Chinese to agree to the deal we want.’ Whether she can actually deliver the $100 billion is a whole other question.
So, to sum up, Friedman wants us to know there's an earnest "Earth Race" going on, but no one should really believe that anyone's going to meet their emissions targets and no one really knows if the Obama administration could organize a big $100 billion-a-year fund for the Third World. All we're supposed to know is that our president really cares, whether anything happens or not.