The Privileged Call for Limited Dictatorships

When I read last week that Woody Allen likes the idea of letting President Obama be a dictator for a “few years” I was repelled; but then I’ve found Allen to be a repellent individual for decades–since Manhattan, at least–so I just shrugged it off as the foghorn bleat of an over-privileged mediocrity looking for some attention.

But then the equally mediocre Tom born-wealthy-high-carbon-footprint-lover-of-Chinese-Communist-Capitalism-I’ve-got-mine-you-should-not-have-yours Friedman let fly with this on Meet the Press:

I have fantasized–don’t get me wrong–but that what if we could just be China for a day? I mean, just, just, just one day. You know, I mean, where we could actually, you know, authorize the right solutions, and I do think there is a sense of that, on, on everything from the economy to environment. I don’t want to be China for a second, OK, I want my democracy to work with the same authority, focus and stick-to-itiveness. But right now we have a system that can only produce suboptimal solutions.

To which Andrea even-more-privileged-than-you-Tom Mitchell chimed in:

“And, in fact, Tom, you’re absolutely right . . .”

The leftist party that these people support is currently in control of both houses of congress and the White House (and they are well-represented within the federal judiciary) and yet, it is not enough. The power is not pure enough, it is not invincible enough; their power is diluted because, dammit, those little people crowing about the constitution all over the internets are mucking things up!

Although, to be fair to Friedman, his China Fantasy is not new; he talked about “being China for a day” with Tom Brokaw in 2008. He’s been hoping for a dictatorship ala China, for a while, now as Jonah Goldberg notes.

Friedman and Mitchell, and even that self-absorbed twerp Woody Allen are all wringing their hands over something they cannot (yet) control; alternative media and how it has contributed to the difficulties of getting things done in Washington.

When the press had a monopoly on information, it was much easier for them to influence opinion; that in turn made the legislator’s jobs easier, too. Now, yes, things are more difficult for the politicians, but that’s mostly because they insist upon working as they always have (the incestuous commingling of pols and media freaks on the left, and pols and business freaks on the right, with back-room-deals-aplenty, back-scratching galore and pork, pork, pork for everyone) while the electorate has decided it wants something different.

So, Allen and Friedman–and others who have kept their faces before us for 40 years by coasting on the work of their youth, because they’ve done nothing memorable, lately–are feeling the shifting sand beneath their feet, and they’re wondering why America can’t simply submit to a fantasy of Limited Dictatorship. It’s so inconvenient for these elites to have to deal with the noise of the bourgeoisie – commoners who presume to opine on anything and who dare to object to the incessant lecturing from their betters.

So, let’s be China “for a little while…” (just long enough to get everything we want accomplished).

Because what they want must, of course, darling, be the very thing that needs doing.

Let’s allow Obama to be dictator “for a couple of years,” because that preening narcissist will certainly give up his dictatorship once the nowhere-utopia of which the left dreams is achieved. Right? Of course.

Ann Althouse writes:

A love of autocracy often lurks beneath the liberal veneer. There’s this idea that the right answers are known and the people are just too deluded and distorted to see what they are and to vote for them.

They propose dictatorship because they are no longer able
to get away with their former arguments, which boiled down to: “shut up. You’re stupid. We’re cool.”

They propose dictatorship because they know their lives would be completely unaffected by such a thing. They will still have access to their Park Avenue doctors; they will be exempt from the rationing of medical treatment that the Obama administration now admits will take place. They will continue to be the privileged useful-idiot voices of the politburo. They will still have their limos and their lunches, where they will sit together and bloviate about what must be done for the commoners who cannot be trusted with their own lives.

“And in fact, you are absolutely right…” they will say to each other, and in their insulated little Pauline-Kaelesque worlds, they will not be able to imagine that anyone with any sense would possibly disagree.

Every murderous totalitarian government of the 20th century
began with some insulated group of faux-intellectuals congratulating each other on how smart they are, and fantasizing about how, if they could just install a dictatorship-for-a-day, they could right all the wrongs in the world.

It is the ultimate fantasy of the narcissist. And we’ve got whole generations of them, in control of our media and our government, all intent on “remaking America.”

Speaking of the wonderfulness that is China

Is it wrong of me to laugh at them? Why are they still in our faces, week after week? Why must we even entertain their lunacies?

WELCOME: Instapundit Readers! And thanks, Glenn, for the link.

The Old-Media Template
Enforcing only those laws we like
The Newspeak Dictionary goes Gallic
Can America last when its leaders side with its foes?
Friedman’s Fantasy
How to Write Like Tom Friedman
“The point of Democracy, Tom…”
A Thug too Far
Friedman’s Power Lust
Joe Biden and the Free World
The Art of the Painless Coup

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • dry valleys

    What happens in Malawi & Uganda, most recently, with the persecutions they subject sexual minorities to (not to mention similar insults offered by governments in the Muslim world) is more of a threat to human dignity than what some luvvie says.

    Personally, on the subject of this quote I have always thought that there needs to be an alternative, an opposition & a stark choice between alternatives rather than all this about working together, bipartisanship, healing & the rest of it, which genuinely is unsettling sort of talk. So for what it’s worth I naturally don’t share Woody Allen’s views, though it’s not as if I lie awake all night worrying what he thinks.

    PS- Then you’ve got Rupert Murdoch, that known left-wing agitator who never failed to state his opposition to Thatcher, trying to charge people for reading online content.

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  • Anthony

    >[I am. Coughing up lungs, now! -admin]

    I think that violates some sort of Obamacare health directive.

    I also think (hope) Vinnie was being sarcastic.

    I have been thinking about this a bit and franjly, I am not so sure this is a left thing as opposed to an intellectual thing. I have intellectual pretensions (though my bad spelling holds me back I fear). But I guess I have enough trouble running my own life and keeping my two sons in line to think I can run someone else’s life (for example, my wife).

    But intellectuals think they know better. As was pointed out, a number of intellectuals loved Mussolini and Hitler and many Catholic intellectuals fell in love with Franco.

    The reason this seems to be a left wing thing is that thanks to the institutional “long march”, our universities tend to be very liberal, so our intellectuals tend to be liberals also.

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  • Janetoo

    I find this exchange to be absolutely chilling. All I could think was “what if Ann Coulter had said this about George Bush?” And you are right, the coming agony (which I am personally starting to feel the edges creep in) will not effect the Friedman’s and the Allen’s and the Mitchell’s OR the Obama’s – all of them. ALL. OF. THEM. Why are the only people writing about this BLOGGERS? Why aren’t the few right of center columnists available outraged by these comments? Each day, I become more and more morose about the political situation in which we find ourselves. I do so admire your faith and read you to become inspired.

  • GM Roper

    One of the best essay’s of the year. Thank you Anchoress, you’ve done us all proud.

  • Nobody in particular

    The problem with liberals is they think they are gods and we, the ignorant masses, need to be led around by nose because they’ve been taught to know what’s best for us. This hypocrisy gets my Scotch-Irish dander up. Great article Anchoress.

  • bandit

    Hopefully it’s not the day they decide to kill dissidents or cut off internet access or tell you how many kids you can have or anything like that – but since that’s like everyday it kind of sux.

  • Mike Walsh, MM

    Up to a point, I might agree with Tom and Andrea: perhaps they could do with a stretch of Maoist “education through labor.” A couple years of tilling sugar beets and sleeping in a bunkhouse might improve their perspective –on the merits of Chinese-style government, at least.

  • kcom

    “Can you imagine if conservatives had said that they wished GWB to be dictator for a short period? What a hissy fit the likes of Allen, Friedman, and Mitchell would be having. All three of them are a bunch of over rated dolts.”

    But the difference is Friedman and his crowd have the right answers to things, so that would make it okay. They would only do good things. Honest. How do they know they’re right? They just do.

  • PamK

    Good article because it helps put some of the pieces together on why things are going wrong for so many Americans. Why would anyone be interviewing Woody Allen? Same for Friedman. Early in their careers they were considered edgy; now they realize that alternative media provides the real “edginess” in news and information. Alternative media does not have incestuous relationships with ACORN, the SEIC, and big business – including the government- because of its “ethereal” nature. No wonder they want to be dictators. Bet the first thing eliminated would be a free press.

  • Exactly

    As the saying goes…”Scratch a Liberal, find a fascist; scratch a conservative, find an anarchist”

  • dymphna

    Woody is a nut but Mia Farrow was not his wife. She was just his woman. And Soon Yi Previn was not his daughter, adopted or otherwise.

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  • B Dubya

    It has been argued that the American Revolution was as much a civil war between Patriots and Loyalists (Tories) as it was an armed revolt against the British Crown. Some half million Tories in the colonies opposed, in one way or another, the other two million Americans who desired to sever the bonds between themselves and King George III., Wherever an aristocratic culture flourished in the 13 Colonies, there one would find concentrations of Loyalists, as was found in New York and Pennsylvania.

    Some 20,000 or so Tories took up arms for the King, including a New York unit led by the infamous Banastre Tarleton in the Carlolinas.

    Loyalists, in 1775, indeed until Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown in 1781, dreamed, even labored toward a resumption of British autocratic rule. In the end, the Patriots cause validated that these people were traitors to liberty and many of them fled (estimates are about 100,000 Tories fled to Britain or Canada).

    I see parallels between the 20% of Colonial America that was in favor of autocratic tyranny and the similar percentage of the current American population that favors progressive tyranny. The fact that some of the more public voices of the American left now openly pine for the tyranny embodied in China only serves to underscore the basic differences between true Americans and themselves.

    Who will take these people if we drive them out? If it comes to a second bloodletting (third if you count the Revolution as the first American civil war), will Canada once again offer refuge to the worst among us? If they were to offer, Canada would be swamped by almost twice their own current population, and all of them like Thomas Friedman.

    Perhaps both sides of political spectrum should be reminded of Jefferson’s words, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”
    Of late, I sense that the branches of the tree are drooping.

  • Nan

    Mr. Friedman may I suggest you read the book “The Aquariums of Pyong-Yang” there you might find out what happens to loyal party members.

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  • Feeney

    Wonderful essay! Thank you! The “totalitarian temptation”. What fools these people are. They must long for the old days, when the voice of Walter Cronkite was the voice of God.

  • Tom Armstrong

    Yes, Mr. Friedman, we’ll pass the Enabling Acts right away. What could possibly go wrong?

  • Joanna

    They APPEAR to want not simply power, but “absolute” power.

    That’s a silly complaint. Who doesn’t wish for as much power as possible to do good as they see fit? There is no evidence that the administration is attempting to actually seize it.

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  • David Jack Smith

    “The power is not pure enough, it is not invincible enough; their power is diluted because, dammit, those little people crowing about the constitution all over the internets are mucking things up!”

    It never is!

    The same inhumanity is what leads to Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, et al — and the killing fields, gas ovens or gulags.

    Germany — a country founded on magnificent, art, music and literature — went from an ugly undercurrent to the gas ovens in 8 years.

    Curiously, two consecutive terms of the US presidency.

  • Dan

    Friedman relates the same fantasy in Hot, Flat, and Crowded.

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  • Ian

    Where were all of you when Bush and Cheney rhetorically said that having a dictatorship would be easier? Rhetoric is rhetoric and I would think you would expect nothing less from talking heads.

    When the Republicans controlled both houses and the presidency and 5 of the supreme court it was the Democrats who cried that they were power hungry and anti-constitution. Now that the Democrats have switched places it’s the Republicans doing the same thing.

    Why can’t everyone step back, drop the hyperbole and look at things for what they are? Do we have a corrupt government now? Of course. Have we had a corrupt government for the last thirty years? Yes, we have, and to say otherwise is pure blindness.

    The only thing you can do is vote against every incumbent. Whining about it between elections just makes you come across as unintelligent.

    [Your argument would be more convincing if Friedman wasn't saying this stuff in 2008 -admin]

  • Joanna

    Ian: Why can’t everyone step back, drop the hyperbole and look at things for what they are? Do we have a corrupt government now? Of course. Have we had a corrupt government for the last thirty years? Yes, we have, and to say otherwise is pure blindness.

    Right. What we have is human nature, which is no worse on the Democractic side than the Republican.

  • MarkD

    The second coming of the French Revolution is not an impossibility. This administration is not taking me anywhere. Hyperbole? Wake up. Add up your taxes, you’re half slave already, and now they want to steal what you have.

    I’m voting anti-incumbent, assuming the elections aren’t cancelled first.

  • http://deleted Michael

    To Exactly, “As the saying goes…”Scratch a Liberal, find a fascist; scratch a conservative, find an anarchist”

    The saying is crap.

    You don’t need to scratch a liberal to find a fascist. They are right out in the open and up-front about it now. What the heck do you think Friedman was saying!!! He’s your average liberal, difference being he’s a writer. All liberals think, want and will implement as soon as they can the very thing he said. Period.

    Conservatives are as far from being anarchists as possible. I am sure you don’t know what the word even means. I’ll give you a clue – look up arche in Greek and then come back with the nerve to say conservatives are against arche.

    You are just a typical liberal, or nearly as bad, a self-styled moderate. You try to suppress the truth about the liberal by making a moral equivalence between a liberal and a conservative. All the people making the Bush-Obama equivalnece are doing the same thing.

    You and every one of them are either ignorant or deceptive. I suspect deceptive. Deceptive and diabolical. Diabolos operates that way – confuse, question, muddle, mix up, obfuscate, deflect, etc.

  • Dan

    Friedman also made the remark about wanting to be China for a day in Hot, Flat, and Crowded.

  • gofer

    Notice all the people crying out for the populace to make sacrifices and cut consumerism for the sake of the earth (global warming) are the ones, like Friedman, who live in palatial mansions and surrounded by servants. It’s sickening to hear these people, Gore, Bono, McCartney, Prince Charles, etc. spew this garbage. They are driven to be the “saviours” of something…anything, so their live will have meaning and they can get rich without actually producing anything of value.

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  • Bender

    Yes, “I am the lord thy God, you shall have no other Gods before me” can never be used as a tool of oppression … or were you just talking about the good commandments?

    It is true that the Commandment can be and has been abused and twisted by some for their own improper ends, as you have done here yourself, trizzlor, especially with your intimation that the First Commandment is not a “good” Commandment. But properly understood, it is not and cannot be a “tool of oppression.”

    Indeed, just the opposite is true. The person who does have “other gods” before Him, especially the person who thinks himself a “god,” is, in each and every case, oppressed and a slave to all manner of error and falsehood. It has been the “worship” of false “gods” throughout history, and today, which has been the greatest cause of misery and strife in the world.

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  • Nomine Cervus


    You are a complete and total hypocrite. It is you who is behaving in a totalitarian manner, being the judge and jury of everyone who dares to have a different opinion.

    It’s funny; the likely reason that you call liberal people names is that you yourself are probably a fake troll. I’m a true conservative; true conservatives would have nothing to do with your filthy ideas.

  • Michael


    Ridiculous. And your wrong.

    You call me “filthy”? for exercising judgment? Is that not itself a rather harsh judgment?

    You’ve been trained it that erroneous attitide like a citcus animal. It sounds so broad-minded and “nice”. It’s neither.

    You’ve been fashioned as a tool to deflect the truth.

    You’re the problem. 66m people like you are the problem.

    How dare anyone judge Stalin for having a differnt opinion from them! How dare anyone judge the millions of nice Germans who had a different opinion from the Jews or from Churchill!!

    You need to start thinking again dude. You’ve lost the ability completely – and you are not a nice persoin!


    Ah my goodness.

  • Nomine Cervus


    Are you even a Christian?

  • Michael

    Who are you to ask? What if I am? WHat if I’m not? Are you a Christian? Tell me about the Christian idea of calling me filthy. I missed that one coming up.

    Anyway, why don’t you come out and say it straight: You have me as a filthy non-Christian (while you’re all over me for being judgmental).

    God will decide whether I am Christian. He’ll have the final say on the filthyness of my soul.

    But we don’t have invoke the almighty to pass judgment on your unbelievable comments (offered data free and without argument).

    The judgment is: you’re whacked.

    My advice: Concentrate on the actual issue at hand in this thread = the call for dictatorship. Discuss that. If you want to talk about filthy non-Christians you might start with the monsters of Chinese oppression that Friedman would love to emulate.

    Please note: I am not a dictator. I do not want any kind of dictatorship. I despise the morons/malicious souls who voted for Obama. I don’t think there is an third option there. However, despising people who support a proto-tyrant, an incomeptent and inexperienced no count no good hack, does no make me filthy. It makes me sane.

    The classic CHRISTIAN moral axiom for the ages is: Love the good, hate the evil.

    I hate Dems because they are, objectively, evil. Subjectively is another matter. I am sure even some Germans who were good little Hitlerites, just like we have good and decent Democrats and Obamaites, were subjectively “excused”.

    But as the years pass and the evidence mounts and the destruction of all things and anything good accelerates, from babies to neighborhoods to families, to jobs, to dreams and opportunity…that gets harder to do.