New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman confused a lot of people on Twitter with a pair of tweets about Maryland’s vaccine program.
Does anyone have any idea where 65-year-olds and older can get vaccinated against Covid in Maryland? They opened the category today and told people NOTHING about where to go. None of this would be happening if @GovLarryHogan were governor. This is impeachable incompetence.
— Thomas L. Friedman (@tomfriedman) January 25, 2021
Hogan, is of course, still the governor of Maryland, the kind of thing one might expect a very well-informed resident of Montgomery County like Friedman might know. Asked about it, Friedman replied in an email to Washingtonian: “Seriously? It was a joke! I was tweaking the Governor for the state’s utterly incompetent vaccination response. Which is why I followed up the first tweet with a second one right after it saying the same thing — but adding the phrase ‘impeachable incompetence.’ Who do you think I was talking about? Trump?”
The joke goes back to the Truman administration, as CBS News reporter John Dickerson explained in a reply to Friedman’s tweet Monday.
To those rightly pointing out that Hogan is governor, it's likely this is an updated version of a joke from the Truman administration. None of this would be happening if Truman were president. An Eisenhower variant was that if Sherman Adams dies, Ike will have to become president
— John Dickerson (@jdickerson) January 25, 2021
In his email, Friedman confirms that ironic rhetorical device was indeed on his mind when he tweeted. “I can guarantee you that the Governor got it,” he writes. “As for those who didn’t, I really don’t care.” He says he voted for Hogan in 2018.
Friedman says his larger point is the “incredible mess the State of Maryland has made in its vaccination response, which it had months to prepare for.” The 67-year-old says he tried and failed for hours to get a vaccination via Giant Food’s website, which he later discovered was run by a third-party vendor. Maryland has delivered only 47 percent of its distributed doses of vaccine, according to the Times, while Virginia has delivered only 45 percent. The District has delivered 71 percent, among the best rates in the nation.
In a follow-up email, Friedman says the fiasco made him so angry that he tweeted about something other than his column—exactly the kind of thing, he says, that his daughter has counseled him not to do.