Friedman uses the power of "humor" to explain complex situations in terms we can all understand. And what we mean by that is he tells crappy old jokes and then tries to make them sound relevant to whatever topic he's simplifying to the third-grade reading level of his corporate audience.
The New Republic's Dylan Matthews actually tracked down all of jokes Friedman has made in his Times columns (it's easy to do, because he prefaces jokes by explaining that he is about to tell a joke), and it is delightful reading.
"For years I have explained the longevity of the Arab-Israeli conflict with a joke about a very religious Jew named Goldberg who wanted to win the lottery. He would go to synagogue every Sabbath and pray: 'God, I have been such a pious man all of my life. What would be so bad if I won the lottery?' And the lottery would come, and Goldberg would not win. This went on week after week, month after month. Finally, one Sabbath, Goldberg couldn't take it anymore, and said to the Almighty: 'God, I have been so good, so observant. What do I have to do to win the lottery?'
And suddenly the heavens parted and the voice of God boomed out: 'Goldberg, give me a chance. Buy a ticket.'"
"During a telephone interview Tuesday with President Obama about his speech to Arabs and Muslims in Cairo on Thursday, I got to tell the president my favorite Middle East joke. It gave him a good laugh. It goes like this:
There is this very pious Jew named Goldberg who always dreamed of winning the lottery. Every Sabbath, he'd go to synagogue and pray: "God, I have been such a pious Jew all my life. What would be so bad if I won the lottery?' But the lottery would come and Goldberg wouldn't win. Week after week, Goldberg would pray to win the lottery, but the lottery would come and Goldberg wouldn't win. Finally, one Sabbath, Goldberg wails to the heavens and says: 'God, I have been so pious for so long, what do I have to do to win the lottery?'
And the heavens parted and the voice of God came down: 'Goldberg, give me a chance! Buy a ticket!'"
Oh man, it is even better this time! Because of italics!