David brooks is often heralded as many liberals favorite conservative
pundit. Perched in some of the most refined media real estate, the
New York Times opinion page and a pundit for the Newshour on PBS, the
sorts of people who read and watch these media outlets often regard
Brooks as an honest broker of conservative faults, willing to
criticise if warranted.
Naturally, this is an enormous crock of horseshit. David Brooks is to
moderation and constructive discourse as the Trojan Horse was to the
cause of Peace between Greeks and Trojans. Today's column in the New
York Times is a classic example of the wretched sewage Brooks serves
up to people desperate to find some comity and safe harbor in today's
politics. Let's take a look:
Alexander Hamilton was an ambitious young striver and
created an economy where people like him could rise and succeed. He
used government to rouse the energies of the merchant class, to widen
the circle of property owners and to dissolve the constraints on
commerce and mobility.
Anytime a conservative pundit invokes the founding generation, a
truly spectacular piece of schadenfreude is about to dumped on you
from on high. Alexander Hamilton is a favorite. Sometimes they get
creative and offer up Thomas Jefferson to confuse gullible democrats.
Let's plow on...
Abraham Lincoln was another ambitious young striver.
As a young politician, he championed roads, canals and banks so
enterprising farm boys like himself could ascend and prosper. While
he was president, the Republican Party passed the Homestead Act,
which gave people access to property they could enrich and develop.
It passed the Land Grant College Act, so the ambitious would have
access to knowledge. It passed railroad legislation to open vistas
for the young and aspiring.
This double whammy of Hamilton and Lincoln is a tell in a Brooks
column, you are about to be directed to gaze upon the Great Oz, while
Brooks operates the machinery behind the curtain. Why do you question
the Great OZ HIPPIE!...
Margaret Thatcher was another young striver. When she
became prime minister, she gave the British working class access to
homes and property so that they would become more industrious and
Oh God!..Thatcher?? Brooks must really be feeling hateful this
You’d think that in this and every election, the
Republicans would want to continue this tradition. You’d think that
they’d start every election by putting themselves at the kitchen
tables of middle-class families with ambitious kids. Their first
questions would be: What are the barriers to their mobility? What
concrete help do these people need to realize their dreams?
You would think that if you had been in deep cryogenic freeze since
the Lincoln Administration. Middle Class mobility? The Republican
party does not care about your kids, middle class. Unless they want
to bring their succulent young flesh to Washington so Dick Cheney can
feast on their youth and live forever? No..? Notice how Brooks
doesn't offer an example in policy terms that might prove the
existence of this mythical Republican Party? Is a Platonic form? Is
it a shadow on the wall? Does he laugh hysterically when he writes
these columns? I can easily imagine reading them over the phone to
Karl rove and laughing till blood comes out their noses. Yessss...the
republican party..patron of class mobility...Yet at the Republican economic debate in Michigan
this week, there was no talk of that. The candidates declared their
fealty to general principles: free trade, lower taxes and reduced
spending. They talked a lot about the line-item veto and the Chinese
currency. But there was almost nothing that touched concretely on the
lives of the ambitious working-class parents who are the backbone of
Brooks: I'm shocked, SHOCKED there is gambling on here...
Reader: Your winnings Mr. Brooks.
The faux surprise is well played here. This is a common trope in a
Brooks column. You can almost see the moderate reader being drawn in.
"you see, hippie leftie blogger. He's different. He's a NIIIICCCCE
It would only be shocking if a GOP debate cut into the precious time
they spend endorsing torture and declaring war on Islam and dirty
immigrants to actually cough up something resembling an actual
policy. That's what those defeatist Democrats do. Remember, it is
gospel in Washington that voters don't care about proposals, only
image, a strong one of a decisive leader ready to kick ass.Sometimes the candidates seemed more concerned with
massaging the pleasure buttons of the Club for Growth than addressing
the real concerns of the middle class. They talked far more about
cutting corporate taxes, for example, than about a child tax credit
for struggling families.
Sometimes??At other times, they sounded as if they were running
for a ceremonial post. The person who is elected president will need
concrete proposals, but the G.O.P. contenders scarcely have them.
Mike Huckabee has some sketchy plans. John McCain answered one
element of middle-class anxiety yesterday with his new health care
plan. Others seem to have decided concrete proposals are for geeks.
Brooks demonstrates the contempt he has for his readers in this
passage. Of course they act like this. This Administration won two
elections doing just that. George Bush ran on a tax cut proposal
based on utterly fraudulent numbers. Reporters treated it like it was
an actual policy idea equally valid to the reality based ones offered
by his opponent. Crunching the numbers is wonky, beneath the work of
political beat reporters. Did you know Al Gore lets feminist chicks
tell him to wear earth tones? Why would anyone in the Republican
party maintain the pretense of having a domestic policy platform?
It's pretty clear they can just mumble some pablum about taxes and
have it trumpeted it as divine inspiration from a midnight visit from
the ghost of Saint Ronnie by the beat reporters they are backslapping
on the bus. Brooks, of course, knows this and yet is perfectly
willing to pretend it's something new that just popped up rather than
business as usual. As if it was a recent development rather than the
perfect reflection of the Bush Republican Party. Yet, plenty of
people lap this stuff out like mothers milk...In this way, the Republican Party has abandoned the
Hamiltonian ground. It has lost intimate contact with the working-
class dreamer who longs to make good. Instead this ground is being
seized by a Democrat. Over the past few months, Hillary Clinton has
issued a string of specific policy programs aimed directly at members
of the aspiring middle class.
Actually, John Edwards has based his whole campaign on exactly that.
Well, that and addressing issues of poverty and inequality, but the
Great Oz doesn't want to talk about that munchkin shit. Besides, he
gets girly haircuts from a hairdresser. Most of the Democratic
candidates have been jawing constantly about these issues in debates
and on the stump. Damn Socialists.
There's more, but I've decided to be merciful and not subject you to
the rest. The beauty of a Brooks column is the pretense that he is
the one conservative pundit willing to acknowledge the GOP glass
might be half empty. The fact it's a chalice of hemlock is artfully
ignored. The Republican party has never been the champion of the
Middle Class, it's the party of business, WASP values, and waving the
bloody shirt about some potential threat: Old Confederates, Catholic
immigrants, Commies, Hippies, and now the Muslim hordes threatening
to restore the Abbasid Caliphate. Democrats have their own history of
demagoguery to be sure. But Brooks intent is to divert you from the
fact the Republican Party is controlled by people who couldn't give
rancid crap about the Middle Class. They answer to constituencies
that have other priorities. So he offers up this faux surprise about
lack of policy proposals about class mobility, cleverly or not so
cleverly devising a make believe world where the GOP was a champion
of Middle Class success in some halcyon past. I particularly like the
pretense he is surprised that the GOP debate was anything other than
a sadism circle jerk about how torture is the defining characteristic
of the modern GOP man. He doesn't allow Ali the terrorist to spook
him, no sir. He orders that private to waterboard him one more time
for Uncle Sam, just because. Torture is like the new Old Spice.
I know John Tierney left a tough legacy to live up to in terms of
disseminating farcical conservative "commentary", But why do people
give this guy the time of day? Krugman and the besieged Bob Herbert
are the only reasons to read the op/ed section of that paper. The
rest is laughable hackery by charlatans like Brooks or my personal
favorite, increasingly shrill and bizarre ravings from the laptop of
Maureen Dowd. Who after lying about Al Gore for a year and half, is
now indulging her inner Mean Girls by going after Hillary Clinton,
and Barack Obama when she has time.
So can people stop pretending that Brooks is somehow "better" than
the mental patients at the Journal. At least those people don't try
to cover up what they are about...