Tom Friedman's 'Nation-Building at Home' Line

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Here at the Wire, we're always monitoring the opinion sphere for tired adages and boring platitudes. It's that sort of journalistic pablum that fuels our long-running Cliché Watch series. Sadly, sometimes competing publications beat us to the punch. Today is one of those days.

In a breakdown of more than two years' worth of Tom Friedman columns, Reason's editor-in-chief Matt Welch tracks the Mustachioed One's use of the phrase "nation-building at home."

"I thought it might be a public service of sorts to trace how long he's been flogging this Molly," Welch writes. "Turns out for 29 months at minimum."

Here's a sampling of Welch's comprehensive cliché hunt:

In June 29, 2008:, Friedman wrote:


I think nation-building in America is going to be the issue...

We are the ones who need a better-functioning democracy — more than the Iraqis and Afghans. We are the ones in need of nation-building. It is our political system that is not working...

We need nation-building at home, and we cannot wait another year to get started.

August 27, 2008:


it's clear that the next seven years need to be devoted to nation-building in America... We can no longer afford to postpone our nation-building while Iraqis squabble over whether to do theirs... [I]t is our time to get back to work on the only home we have, our time for nation-building in America.

September 9, 2008:


the change we need is to focus on nation-building at home. We're in decline.

September 23, 2008:


I argue in [Hot, Flat, and Crowded] that the best way out of this mess is an American commitment to what I call "nation-building at home," centered on innovation in clean energy.

April 21, 2010:


the most important foreign policy issue America faces today is its ability to successfully engage in nation buildingnation building at home.

Sunday November 28, 2010:


The long-term concern is that people intuitively understand that what we need most now is nation-building in America... We have to get this plan for nation-building right because we are driving without a spare tire or a bumper... 40 percent of Americans in the middle who have determined our last two elections don't see an integrated plan for nation-building at home...

Check out Welch's post for even more of that beautiful nation-building in action!


This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.