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Mobs, Messiahs, and Markets by Lila Rajiva, Will Bonner

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Still Trying to Hustle the East

But, even in a whole nation of hallucinators, the grandeur of New York Times editorialist Thomas L. Friedman's follies stand out. Take that column in which he complained about “America's Failure of Imagination.” In it, Friedman imagined Osama bin Laden as “a combination of Charles Manson and Jack Welch”—an evil personality, but with organizational skills. “We Americans can't imagine such evil,” said Friedman. “We keep reverting to our natural, naively optimistic selves.”11

Actually, at the time he wrote it, Americans were showing signs not of a lack of imagination, but of imagination run wild. Nuns and Girl Scouts were being patted down in airports all across the country. Penny loafers were being x‐rayed. Tech stocks were selling at 60 times earnings … and U.S. Treasury bonds, at par. Americans had come to believe the most extraordinary things—not only that their soldiers could create American‐style democracy in ancient Mesopotamia, but that they themselves could borrow and spend as much as they wanted, as long as they wanted, without ever having to pay anyone anything back. And Friedman himself seemed to have a full tank of imagination.

Still, according to our gassed‐up columnist, the 39,000 employees of the National Security Agency and the hundreds of thousands of Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) employees, police, Homeland Security staff, and soldiers were not enough for America's imagining needs. “We need an ‘Office of Evil,' ” he urged, “whose ...

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