Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Friedman Unit

One of the tactics used by Bush and the Republicans to delay the coming Storm has been dubbed the Friedman Unit, by Atrios of Eschaton, in honor of the New York Times' Tom Friedman. A Friedman unit is "six months" as in, "we will know the result of the current military strategy in six months" or "we will have won or lost in six months".

The Friedman Unit has been a potent tactic of narrative storytelling, deflecting all the efforts of critics to call into question the efficacy of the Administration's strategy or tactics. It embodies a simple refusal to engage in a realistic assessment of the war's objectives or strategy. The war's defenders never have to explain why or how their current strategy is supposed to work, and the fact that no evidence for success can be evinced is dismissed -- the facts of success are in the future, the test of the strategy is in the future.

The war's critics and opponents have never found an entirely effective narrative counter, and have had to rely on repetition, alone, to slowly erode the potency of the Friedman Unit. Atrios has done yeoman's work in this endeavor, satirically naming this trope, and tracking how various politicians and pundits have repeatedly used the prediction of success, just six months away, over and over.

Today, Atrios quotes Joe Klein, Time Magazines fake Liberal columnist, doing it once again. But, look at what Joe writes! Even the spokesman, whom stenographer Joe quotes, can no longer keep a straight face:

" 'This is a decisive phase,' a member of Petraeus' staff told me and began to laugh. 'That's one of our favorite jokes. It's always a decisive phase. But this time, I guess you'd have to say, it actually is.'"

The rhetorical levee of the Right has been eroded by repetition and undermined by ridicule. It is no longer fit to hold back the opponents of the War and the political storm that comes with them.

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