March 20, 2007

The Friedman Unit

Filed under: politics — ubikcan @ 9:03 am

The Friedman Unit (drolly known as an FU) is an interesting outcome of political blogging. Defined as a period of time lasting six months, by the end of which some goal will be attained in Iraq, it is named after Tom Friedman, the ra-ra columnist in the New York Times.

According to the entry in Wikipedia, Friedman first used this phrase as far back as 2003, and is still using it (in 2006 he said things will get better in “ten months or ten years,” ie., 1.67 to 20 FU, thus now known as a NFU). The entry includes multiple instances of people using the FU; beside Friedman himself the list includes Donald Rumsfeld, Mary Matalin, John Boehner, and most recently, advisors to Gen. Petraeus in Iraq (Feb. 27, expiring August 27, 2007).

Twenty-four of the cited uses of the Friedman Unit have expired, obviously without the success claimed.

The term was coined by Philly-based blogger Atrios in an attempt to point to the constant deferral of any sign of success as a deliberate political strategy for sustaining support for the war.  (Just yesterday President Bush said it was early days and that more time was needed.) The phrase has appeared in many media outlets, mostly online but some in print, and the Huffington Post gave it an Honorable Mention as best new media phrase of the year.

None of this compares to the damage done by Friedman and his influence, but mockery continues to be the better half of valor. It’s a meme, baby!


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