Tuesday, October 02, 2012

The Whig Fan Fiction of David Brooks


Like a sculptor inspecting a magnificent slab of raw statuario marble, the wise critic carefully circles today's amazing, mile-high-shitpile of a David Brooks column once... twice... thrice... before unwrapping the tools of his trade.

And then the wise critic stops and realizes the futility of such an enterprise.

Because long ago Mr. Brooks simply stopped writing "columns" full of "facts" about "stuff" and started writing a collection of Whig Fan Fiction short stories.

These stories are not about the world as it actually exists, but the world as Mr. Brooks wishes it to be.  And since he is not a very good fiction writer, there are many, many points where the gears of the real world and his fake Whig World grind and howl, forcing Mr. Brooks to apply gallons of fictive lubricant to keep the keening noise of the real world ripping Whig World off its hinges from drowning out the tepid drone of his writing.

When Mr. Brooks needs an imaginary moral high ground of Centrism on which to stand, he conjures an imaginary army of Dirty Fucking Hippies on the Left that exactly counterpoises the very real mob of Pig People on the Right. 

When he wants to redress what he believes to be the immorality of the deficit, he wishes away the entire, debt-drunk Bush Era and instead pounds away at naughty people having sexy sex time in ways Mr. Brooks does not approve of and invents Whig FanFic "grand bargain" and "austerity" sub-genres wherein he expounds his on his rustic theories about money and cutting social programs.  After which he regularly has his ass absolutely sawed off and served up on the fine china by people like Dean Baker and Paul Krugman and myriad others who actually know what they're talking about.

(UPDATE:  Like, say, Sarah Kilff at the Washington Post:
Yes, we do know how to control health cost inflation 
Posted by Sarah Kliff on October 2, 2012 at 1:17 pm 
David Brooks’s column today is a suggested opening for his Wednesday night debate. It includes this “brutal truth” about Medicare costs: “Nobody knows how to reduce health-care inflation.” 
It’s would be a pretty brutal truth except for the fact it’s not really true at all: We have a lot of examples to look at where governments have successfully held down the rate of health-care cost inflation. Most of them do that through some version of price controls, where the government sets the rates that doctors can charge for various services. 
... )
Does this deter the indefatigable  Mr. Brooks in the slightest?

Goodness no!  

Sure, if he had to fend for a living in the real world where you and I live, Mr. Brooks would starve to death under a bridge within minutes.  But Mr. Brooks does not live in the real world.  He lives in an alternate universe of wealth and privilege where his friends and financial backers continue to completely insulate him from the brutal professional consequences that would normally accompany getting caught in public over and over and over again piling such ridiculous bullshit so very high and deep.

In other words, what Digby said:
The fact that Brooks has been horribly, astonishingly, unequivocally and ludicrously wrong about almost every major issue of the decade and still manages to keep a job as New York Times columnist is precisely why few people trust institutions like the New York Times. If a political analyst and prognosticator were as consistently wrong as Brooks in earlier eras, there would usually have been accountability for it.
And ironically it is here -- in Mr. Brooks' obsessive contempt for the real world as it really is and in his pathological denialism about his own past -- that Mr. Brooks is at his most deeply Conservative.  Like Michelle Malkin (who Mr. Brooks dismisses as "a loon") the more Mr. Brooks lies about the real world as it really is to please his audience, the more he prospers.  And the clearer it becomes that his prosperity is directly tied to his lies, the more operatic those lies become -- such as his complete revision of the entire history of Conservatism to infuse it with a genteel, communitarian spirit that never was and to omit all the inconveniently icky stuff that actually turned it into a cultural and electoral force to be reckoned with  (from me last week):
University of Chicago history baccalaureate David "Even David Brooks" Brooks has written a genuinely remarkable and revealing column about the rise and fall of American Conservatism. 
What makes it remarkable and revealing it is not its scholarly depth or historical breadth or scathing, confessional honesty, but rather that it is a work of almost pure fiction being passed off as fact in America's Newspaper of Record...
And now, in order to court the favor of all seven David Brooks Conservatives left within the  borders of the continental United States, Mr. Brooks advises Mr. Romney to tell the tens of millions bigots and imbeciles and anti-science Christopaths that make up his Party's voter base to go fuck themselves. 

Tell them that to get their votes in the primaries, he duped them, chumped them, led them down the garden path and promised them a Kenyan Moon that he never, ever had any intention of delivering.

Tell them that every single thing Newt Gingrich and Sick Rantorum said about him was the plain truth, and do it in the most condescending way imaginable:
I’m a nonideological guy running in an ideological age, and I’ve been pretending to be more of an ideologue than I really am. I’m a sophisticated guy running in a populist moment. I‘ve ended up dumbing myself down. 
It hasn’t even worked. I’m behind. So I’ve decided to run the last month of this campaign as myself.
Of course I lied to you, honey.  See, I wanted to put my penis in your vagina, but you wouldn't let me unless I promised to love you forever, so what was I supposed to do?

Here's a musical video thingies by a Mr. Meat Loaf that explains the whole dynamic in small, easy words that you poor dumb fucks can understand:

Then, as the Party base goes positively supernova with rage, explain the reason why he lied and lied and lied to them  was because, although he is running entirely on his resume as a badass capitalist problem solver with a business-brain the size of a planet and who fires the unfit without flinching, he somehow let a bunch of pipsqueak consultants -- a bunch of the hired help -- run all over him with their tiny, cloven hooves and turn him into someone he was not:
The problem is that you get caught up in the competitiveness of a campaign and all the consultants want to make you something you’re not. 
I’ve allowed that to happen to me. 
Because in Whig Fan Fiction, that sort of alibi works flawlessly.

Finally, to stick the Brooksian landing, in the middle of his epic truth-telling, Romney should first pivot 180 degrees away from the truth and double-down on the biggest lie of them all: that nothing is getting done in Washington D.C. because President Obama was not sufficiently pliant and capitulate-y during his first two years in office --
The next president is going to have to forge a grand compromise on the budget. President Obama has tried and failed to do this over the past four years. There’s no reason to think he’d do any better over the next four. 
He’s failed, first, because he’s just not a very good negotiator. You don’t have to believe me. Read Bob Woodward’s book, “The Price of Politics.” Obama spent the last campaign promising to be postpartisan and then in his first weeks in office, in the fullness of his victory, he shut down all cooperation with Republicans and killed any hope of bipartisan cooperation.
-- and then -- in an epic, sweep-the-leg re-reversal move not seen in these parts in living memory -- contradict the words that just came out of his own mouth by saying something that sounds nice and Centristy 
The second reason there’s been no budget compromise is that Republicans have been too rigid, refusing to put revenue on the table. 
but which will, in fact, 
  1. Please only David Brooks, 
  2. Completely negate the lie he just told, and, 
  3. Terminally piss off the few, remaining GOP base voters who have not already decided to burn you in effigy in the Sisterfuck, Arkansas town square  
Whig Fan Fiction at its finest.

But what the Hell it is doing on the op-ed page of the NYT week after week remains one of journalism's deepest and most enduring mystery.

 + + + + + + + + + + 

Why yes, your humble scrivener would be delighted to take your money!


Anonymous said...

It wasn't until I discovered your blog that I found out exactly, precisely why David "Smarmdog Millionaire" Brooks was annoying me more with every passing year. Thank you.

My favorite bit of fiction is this: "I’m a nonideological guy running in an ideological age, and I’ve been pretending to be more of an ideologue than I really am."

Yeah, right. Romney should have "Bend Me, Shape Me" as his campaign theme song.

La_Randy said...

That was some breath you took!


Anonymous said...

"David Brooks" and "lubricant": two phrases that should not be permitted within the same web page. ;)

marindenver said...

Does David Brooks honestly and truly think that Romney's best strategy is to confess to the American people that he's been nothing but a huge phony up to now? Mind blowing.

Anonymous said...

But Sick Rantorum IS on the page, si it's cool.

Anonymous said...

Obama did everything to find "common ground", to be "bipartisan", to compromise with these loons on the right...

...but the only option given him by the right was complete capitulation, and perhaps changing parties and swearing a blood oath to Grover Norquist.

The greatest political story remains unreported by our glorious national media...

...that the GOP has gone completely insane.

Anonymous said...

Small correction: David Atkins actually said it on Digby's blog.

Glen Tomkins said...

Just stop it.

"But what the Hell it is doing on the op-ed page of the NYT week after week remains one of journalism's deepest and most enduring mystery."

This is not rocket science. The NYT is owned by people who have interests. Those interests would not be served by what you might think of as journalism on the pages of the NYT, so they do not in fact allow what you think of as journalism to be practiced on their dime.

We used to understand this. We had Republican newspapers and we had Democratic newspapers. Neither made much pretense of being at all fair to the other party, so everyone past the age of 6 or so undersood that they were reading propaganda.

But them we had the collapse of the other party in the face of the Great Depression. For fifty years, they couldn't get anyone into the WH except those RINOs, Eisenhower and Nixon. Everyone except a fringe accepted the New Deal as basic and foundational. So newspapers could present a facade of bipartisianship because there really was only one set of opinions, New Deal opinions, universally accepted.

The breakdown of that consensus got to the WH in 1980, and has since advanced steadily to all corners of the federal govt, and all levels of govt, and to all corners of the media. What you call jouranlism was never robust enough to exist outside of the artificial environment of consensus on the basics. That would require these jouranlists to actually know enough to stand on their own ground, above the opinions of the parties.

There aren't that many people capable of standing outside society and critiquing it intelligently. More importantly, it is not in the interests, at least not the narrow, immediate interests, of anyone in society, to support this elite in the profession of critiquing society. Nobody likes a smart-ass or a gadfly.

The old-line journalists for whom you pine were indeed several cuts above the out-and-out hacks we have today. There were newspapers willing to support some fairly talented people in their ongoing effort to actually understand one or more of the beats of public policy. But even these people never questioned the upper middle class consensus, not that and continue to get paid by the owners.

Now the owners impose restricitons beyond merely not crapping on the comfortable upper middle class consensus. They want a party propagandized for, and being owners, that would be the owner's party, the Rs, they want propagandized.

The Cossacks all work for the Czar. It's as simple as that.

Bukko Canukko said...

Wow, ecellent analysis by Tomkins there. It made things clear that I never glommed when I was a journumalist for 10 years. (BS in JOUR from University of Maryland in 1981, worked at a bunch of mostly smaller papers all over the country for 10 years before finally getting fired for the last time by the Tampa Tribune in 1990 for basically being a smart-ass gadfly. You're right -- nobody likes us, especially The Owners.)

Anyway, despite getting reined-in or shit-canned from several papers for stirring up trouble, I was still naive enough to believe that reporterificating was a noble calling. And I was more cynical and twisted than 90% of the rest of the people I worked with. (By the end of the 1980s, the rot had started to set in to the profession.)

I was a firm believer in the Cult of Objectivity, that no one would trust us if we appeared to be taking sides. When I KNEW someone was lying (which was often) I would try as hard as I could in my writing to INTIMATE the truth, but I'd never come right out and say they were a fake-ass SOB. Not that my editors would have let me anyway. Especially when it involved someone powerful, and the powerful are the greatest liars.

It's now clear that exposing the true nature of reality was NEVER the purpose of the modern corporate press. It's fine to write about the car crashes and who said what at the murder trial, etc. But when it comes to squeaking the truth about power, the press is supposed to be a mouse, not a man. Corporate motives trump all.

It's too bad I never saw it back then, but when you're inside the profession, it's hard to question your own reason for being. It feels so PURE when you think you're working for a higher purpose of Telling the Whole Truth. I can relate to how the faithful inside corrupt institutions like the Catholic Church stick with it, despite evidence of evil from the pedo-priesthood to the Crusades to the mass murder circa 400-600 AD over how many natures God has. If somebody like Tomkins had told me the truth back then, I would have dismissed him as a knee-jerk press hater and closed my ears.

Thank goodness I got the final sacking, anyway. Now that I have a licence to wipe butts and sling syringes, I never lack for work and can move to countries all over the world! And I have no illusions about the medical system...

Bukko Canukko said...

The journalistic rot is everywhere, and not just on Faux.