I’ve circled David Brooks’ now-infamous NYT column for several days in what can only be called wonder.
Because I cannot recall reading a more remarkably, unintentionally and humiliatingly-revealing essay in a very long time.
For the record (Wait a minute? There’s a record?) it is the column entitled “History and Calumny” (although it would probably be better named “Hysteria and Columnist”) and it appears here if you want to read it for yourself.
Visiting further demolition on it would probably be gratuitous, since watching good writers from all over crank one round after another into Bobo’s wheelhouse has been like unto
watching the Navy take target practice on a derelict ship.
Doghouse Riley has his way with our Mr. Brooks here.
Paul Krugman himself deftly gaffs and guts the context surrounding Bobo’s ridiculous assertions here.
Bob Herbert, also of the New Yawk Times, pounds another fistful of ten-penny nails into Bobo’s coffin with “Righting Reagan’s Wrongs?" which begins thusly --
“Let’s set the record straight on Ronald Reagan’s campaign kickoff in 1980.”
-- and soars onward here.
And, of course, from beyond this vale of tears, my sentimental favorite is this by Steve Gilliard in 2004, which I’ll quote at length below, and which you can read in its entirety here:
So let's get past all the maudlin bullshit and discuss what Reagan really did.Which demonstrates, if nothing else, the true, sad state of American journalism: that a deceased and relatively obscure blogger named Steven Gilliard is still a vastly more vital, thoughtful, passionate and powerful writer from inside the Narrow House than is the allegedly-living New York Times columnist named David Brooks.
First, Reagan rode to power on a wave of reaction to the Civil Rights struggle. California, a state with a deep well of racial resentment, supported Reagan, who would protect the establishment and call for students to be murdered on their campuses. Reagan was regarded as a crank by many on the left, but his appeal to middle America was strong. It wasn't that Reagan was a racist, as fas as is known, he wasn't. But he sure could pander to them, as he did in
19841980 at Philadelphia, MS. For those of you unaware, that is the place three civil rights workers were murdered by the Klan. It would be like a British Prime Ministerial candidate going to Amritsar to talk about the glory of the British Army (the site of a 1921 massacre of peaceful Indian protesters). Reagan pandered to the racist right with ease, even as Barry Goldwater, the man he supported in 1964 with a convention speech, slowly backed away from many of his reactionary views. Instead, Reagan depicted blacks as "welfare queens" leeching off the society, when in reality, white women are the largest recipients of AFDC. Reagan used race like a club to hammer minorities and pander to the racist right.
We need to ask what hath Reagan wrought. His economic policies crippled this country, preventing the kind of long term structural changes which are still needed. How long will American businesses have to foot the bill for health insurance? How long will unequal funding for schools exist? How long will the right of women to control their bodies be subject to restrictions? This is the real, domestic legacy of Ronald Reagan. His breaking of the PATCO strike began the road to anti-Union policies across business. Once, businesses wanted labor peace, after Reagan, strike breaking was permitted, hell encouraged.
Reagan began the road of crippling America's ability to care for Americans. Now we have this failed trickle down economic policy pushed by yet another President. One that leaves Americans in record debt and record bankruptcies. Instead of tax rates which fairly distribute the burden of funding America, the rich have been encouraged to avoid their fair share. Ronald Reagan began the bankrupting of America and the creation of a super wealthy CEO class, one where their great grandchildren will never have to work, an aristocracy of trustifarians. Under Reagan hypocracy and selfishness became the rule of the road. Not just in public life, where his staff routinely lied, eventually leading to Iran-Contra.
But if Reagan started to ruin America, his foreign policy left the dead around like fallen leaves. His foreign policy was a disaster by any standard. Dead nuns in El Salvador, murdered school teachers in Nicaragua, the tortured in Argentina, the seizure of Grenade, the failed intervention in Lebanon, the aerial assassination attempt on Khaddafi, which led to the bombing of Pam Am flight 103. Reagan's policies left a trail of failure and disaster at every turn.
How to explain funding the deeply corrupt Contras? Former Somocista generals who funded their war by the drug trade? Who murdered the innoncent. Or the war in Guatemala and the genocide of the indian population. Or the war in El Salvador, where American nuns, among many others, were raped and murdered. A government so callous that it murdered an archbishop in his church.
Reagan's foreign policy left a trail of death and fear wherever it touched.=
Silent complicity was the hallmark of Reagan's policy towards dictatorships. From Indonesia to El Salvador, the innocent died and the US said nothing, did nothing, except make their lives worse.
We backed the guerrilla groups in Afghanistan, funding the most radical ones and then leaving the country in disarray.
Reagan's legacy is a dark one, one of backing murderers and robbing America of a fairer future. It wasn't that he was an evil man, or a bad one. It is what he believed and what he supported caused so much pain and misery for so many people, who had to live with the results of his policies.
And which, in the end, leaves nothing left standing to debunk or refute.
Indeed all of the above would be an embarrassingly one-sided exercise in bouncing the rubble of where Bobo’s career used to be were it not for this simple fact: Bobo still works for the NYT.
Punching most days so desperately far out of his intellectual weight class that he can barely climb up the Big Boy stairs into the ring, Bobo nonetheless continues to punch clock every damned day on the most valuable piece of real estate at the New York Fucking Times.
He worked for them last year.
Works for them this year.
Will work for them next year.
And through the smoke of Hellfire prose tearing his idiocy to flinders, this became the part of the story-behind-the-story which began to fascinate me.
End Part 1 of 4.
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