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Thomas L. Friedman Opinion Piece, Essay Example

Pages: 2

Words: 425

Essay

In “Hard Lines, Red Lines and Green Lines,” New York Times, September 22nd, 2012, Thomas L. Friedman, evaluates the relevance of a telling phrase commonly stated in honor of Myanmar’s democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi during the ceremony of her Congressional Gold Medal award.

The statement being, “it is not power that corrupts but fear. Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it, and fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it;” he applies this concept to the congress as well as the Obama administration. His main argument is that this eastern philosophy should be applied to western governmental policy, as few politicians are willing to tell the truth to the public for fear they might lose power. Freidman Graduated from the University of Minnesota and later attended St Antony’s College, in Oxford. His past bias in favor of globalization due to his work as a political columnist covering foreign policy for The New York Times, and the fact he published the book “The World is Flat,” weaken the credibility of his argument as it just reaffirms beliefs he already had prior to assessing the statement.

Friedman uses specific examples to point out the effect this fear of losing power has had on the Obama administration. He argues that Obama has been at his best when he takes risks and “leads without fearing the politics.” Examples he uses to support moments when Obama took action without worrying about the political or media backlash are:

  • Killing Osama bin Laden,
  • Settling on, and passing a health care bill without a public option,
  • “Racing to the top in education”
  • Bailing out the banks instead of  throwing bankers in jail

Friedman argues Obama has been at his worst when he made politics a priority over actions and policy. The examples he uses to support this are:

  • Spurning Simpson-Bowles
  • Putting more troops in Afghanistan in fear of being seen a weak
  • Discontinuing the mention of “climate change” in his speeches.

He acknowledges the weakest moments in Obama’s Presidency as those times when he made his fear of losing power most apparent through his actions. Freidman doesn’t leave Republicans out of his criticisms either.

Friedman sums up the article by suggesting both the president and members of congress learn from Aung San Suu Kyi and instead of just honoring her, they emulate her. Friedman’s argument is valid, as he uses ample specific events to point out moments when Obama was both effective as a leader and then ineffective, and then he identifies this concept of acting without fear of losing power as the reason why.

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