Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Thing Is, Even If It Is Just For Bangers

David Brooks Now Totally Pathological 
By Jonathan Chait (New York Magazine)

01/18/13 at 11:50 AM 

Moderate Republicanism is a tendency that increasingly defies ideological analysis and instead requires psychological analysis. The psychological mechanism is fairly obvious. The radicalization of the GOP has placed unbearable strain on those few moderates torn between their positions and their attachment to party. Many moderate conservatives have simply broken off from the party, at least in its current incarnation, and are hoping or working to build a sane alternative. Those who remain must escape into progressively more baroque fantasies.

The prevalent expression of this psychological pain is the belief that President Obama is largely or entirely responsible for Republican extremism. It’s a bizarre but understandable way to reconcile conflicting emotions — somewhat akin to blaming your husband’s infidelity entirely on his mistress. In this case, moderate Republicans believe that Obama’s tactic of taking sensible positions that moderate Republicans agree with is cruel and unfair, because it exposes the extremism that dominates the party, not to mention the powerlessness of the moderates within it. Michael Gerson recently expressed this bizarre view, and the pathology is also on vivid display in David Brooks’s column today.

Brooks begins by noting that the Grand Bargain on the deficit, which he has spent the last two years relentlessly touting, is not actually possible. Why is it impossible? Because, he writes, “A political class that botched the fiscal cliff so badly are not going to be capable of a gigantic deal on complex issues.”

Oh, the political class? That’s funny. In 2011, Obama offered an astonishingly generous budget deal to House Republicans, and Brooks argued at the time that if the GOP turned the deal down, it would prove their “fanaticism.” Naturally, they turned it down. Obama continues to offer a bargain including higher revenue through tax reform in return for lower spending on retirement programs, but Republicans refuse to consider higher taxes. So, in summary, this proves “the political class” is to blame.

Chait column on moderate conservatives really is a tour de force H/T 

If everybody's doing it...

Would you want David Brooks’ job?

Don't be too sure. Being a conservative columnist for the New York Times is impossible by design

What’s the toughest job in the United States today? I’ll nominate one: conservative New York Times columnist.
Case in point: Jonathan Chait beat up on David Brooks on Friday. It’s brutal, and I have nothing particular to say about the details. But I do question this:
Moderate Republicanism is a tendency that increasingly defies ideological analysis and instead requires psychological analysis. The psychological mechanism is fairly obvious. The radicalization of the GOP has placed unbearable strain on those few moderates torn between their positions and their attachment to party. Many moderate conservatives have simply broken off from the party, at least in its current incarnation, and are hoping or working to build a sane alternative. Those who remain must escape into progressively more baroque fantasies.
Well, maybe.
I think there’s a far easier institutional explanation for the regularly contorted efforts of Brooks (and Ross Douthat): The job demands it.
David Brooks and Ross Douthat are New York Times op-ed conservatives. That’s their job. The job exists, presumably, for one positive reason — the Times wants ideological diversity on their op-ed page — and, more important, for one negative reason — the Times wants to deflect the charge that it is monolithically liberal. And they want all that along with smart commentary, not partisan hackery.
Now, never mind whether this is a smart use of its famously valuable real estate; it’s what the newspaper has decided to do with it. No, not explicitly (at least not publicly), but that’s pretty clearly the job.
And in normal times, in the era of William Safire, it worked just fine. Safire could defend most of what the GOP did, dissent on particular issues (and even there he’d have some Repbulican support) and generally help readers of the Times who were otherwise cocooned to know what’s going on with conservatives.
That was then.
But neither the conservative movement nor the Republican Party of the Reagan era are around any more. And that makes the job impossible. 

...there's  a lot of guys doing it.
Is the Republican Party Obama’s fault?

Posted by Ezra Klein on January 18, 2013 at 2:07 pm (Washington Post)


The first day of the House Republicans’ retreat was devoted, in large part, to persuading House Republicans to stop saying offensive things about rape and to stop thinking they can use the debt ceiling to hold the economy hostage after losing the 2012 election. 
To state the obvious, these are not topics that should actually need to be covered at a retreat of House Republicans. We should be able to take it for granted that our legislators won’t petulantly crash the economy or offend rape survivors. That the House GOP leadership had to mount an organized campaign to convince GOP members of those things is evidence that something has gone wrong in the Republican Party.

No one knows that better than Republicans themselves. But it’s very difficult to be a Republican in a time of GOP dissolution. And so recent weeks have birthed the strangest strain of commentary I can remember: The Republican Party’s crazy opinions are President Obama’s fault.

The logic here is weirdly impeccable. The Republican Party’s dilemma is that House Republicans keeps taking all kinds of unreasonable and unpopular positions. If Obama weren’t president, the House Republicans wouldn’t be taking so many unreasonable and unpopular positions. But since Obama is president, and since he does need to work with House Republicans, he is highlighting their unreasonable and unpopular opinions in a bid to make them change their minds, which is making House Republicans look even worse. And so it’s ultimately Obama’s fault that House Republicans are, say, threatening to breach the debt ceiling if they don’t get their way on spending cuts. After all, if Mitt Romney had won the election, the debt ceiling wouldn’t even be a question!
Another version came today from New York Times columnist David Brooks. The column takes the form of Brooks imagining the internal monologue of a White House strategist who’s developing a strategy to destroy the Republican Party. It’s worth quoting at some length... 

A lot of guys doing it...
Spurning David Brooks’ Anguished Cry For Help

By Ed Kilgore (Washington Monthly)

I was just about to perform, as a public service, another deconstruction of another David Brooks column. But Jonathan Chait beat me to the punch by a country mile, and left little to be said in the ruins of Brooks’ argument.

You should savor Chait’s joyfully vicious logic at your leisure, but he does make one point worth underlining as a general indictment of the “reasonable Republicans” who admit the extremism of their party’s dominant elements but lash out at the opposition in their agony...

Just as conservatives want Obama to provide cover for their unpopular “entitlement reform” proposals, Republican “moderates” want Obama to give them the power they so completely lack by offering deals to the GOP that don’t offend the Right and give the “moderates” a position as brokers.

What I don’t understand is the extraordinarily blind conviction that the only reason these “moderates” have no power is the absence of deals on the table, which, because they can only be supplied by Democrats must be supplied by Democrats. This ignores the half-century story of the rise of the conservative movement and its eventual conquest of the GOP, which has nothing to do with “deal-making” and everything to do with repealing most of the policy legacy of the twenty-first century, as created by both parties. Perhaps some fine day, after the 100th “RINO Purge” primary or the millionth op-ed denouncing Republican “surrender” to socialism and secularism, David Brooks will wake up and figure out that movement-conservative types view people like him as dinosaurs who belongs on the ash heap of history...

...but only one guy can be the best.
The Beast that Shouted Love at the Heart of the Congress with His Head Up His Ass While Sucking His Own Balls


November 23, 2010

... I would hate to have to read a David Brooks police report.
Officer: So you say you saw who mugged you, sir?

Brooks: Yes. It was a big guy. With a bat. Also liberals were involved.

Officer: Leaving aside the liberals for a moment, what did this "big guy" look like?

Brooks: About six foot. Maybe 200 pounds. White. But the Democrats unreasonable position on Medicare contributed...

Officer: Like I said, sir; we'll get back to the Democrats and liberals later. Now about the man who mugged you. Could you describe what kind of clothes he had on?

Brooks: Yes. He was wearing a "Bush/Cheney '04" t-shirt, a tri-corner hat and was carrying one of those "Don't Tread On Me" flags. (pauses) Officer, you seem to be deliberately ignoring the liberal involvement here.

Officer: No sir -- I'm writing all of it down. It's just important that we start with the facts.

Brooks: Well the fact is, officer, that Democrats are clearly implicated here as well as a fringe nutcase who in no way represents the main body of Conservative thinking.

Officer: Alrighty then, Mr. Brooks, you seem to be going into shock or maybe you have a slight concussion, so lets try coming at this another way. You say you were mugged, right?

Brooks: I was definitely mugged. Assaulted and mugged.

Officer: OK, then. How many people were physically holding the baseball bat? How many different people had their hands on it?

Brooks (pauses): Uh...just the one guy.

Officer: The man with the "Bush/Cheney '04" t-shirt?

Brooks (pauses): Yes.

Officer: And how many people actually said to you -- and I quote -- "Gimme your fucking wallet or I'll fucking kill you you fucking Commie"?
Said that out loud.
In your presence.
During the mugging.

Brooks: Well, technically it was that one guy, but...

Officer: And how many separate and distinct people actually hit you in the face with the bat?

Brooks: The one guy.

Officer: The one man with the "Bush/Cheney '04" t-shirt?

Brooks: Yes.

Officer: And how many people -- physical, real people -- were within, say, 30 feet of that one guy? At any time during the incident?

Brooks: Well that is very hard to say. I mean, there was a lot going on, what with the one guy screaming at me and hitting me in the face with the bat, and the Democrats causing an equal amount of...

Officer: Oh, I'm sure it was frighting, sir. Very frightening. But it would make my job a lot easier if right now you could just tell me how many other, physical, real people were within 30 feet of that one guy.

Brooks: Well, if I had to guess.

Officer: Yes.

Brooks: -- and this is just an approximation, you understand?

Officer: Of course.

Brooks: I'd have to say...around...

Officer: Yes.

Brooks: Generally...

Officer: Yes.

Brooks: Roughly...

Officer: Yes.

Brooks: In the vicinity of...

Officer: Yes.

Brooks: Bordering on...

Officer: Yes.

Brooks: Verging between...

Officer: Yes.

Brooks: Ballpark...

Officer: I've got all day sir.

Brooks: Más o menos...

Officer: Yes.

Brooks: Somewhere between, maybe, five...

Officer: Yes.

Brooks: And...none.

Officer: And closer to which of those two numbers -- five and none -- would you say would be more accurate?

Brooks: (long whistle) Well the range is potentially unlimited, isn't it? I mean, what with geometric regression and Nancy Pelosi and rounding errors and Harry Reid and fractals...

Officer: Would it help your memory if I told you we have the whole thing on tape?

Brooks: Oh.

Officer: (pointing) See those two cameras? The one on that bank over there and a traffic camera across the street?

Brooks: Uh.

Officer: Between them, they'll give us a very accurate count of how many physical, real people were involved.

Brooks: Oh.

Officer: So you were estimating something about it being between five and none?

Brooks: Uh, let's just go with "none" then. To keep it simple.

Officer: Of course sir. So there were no people other than you and the assailant within 30 feet of the incident. How about 50 feet?

Brooks: None.

Officer: 100 feet?

Brooks: None.

Officer: So it would be fair to say, then, that the entire street was deserted except for you and the big man in the Republican t-shirt, and Tea Party flag and hat who called you -- and, again, I'm quoting -- a "fucking Commie"...

Brooks: Yes.

Officer: ...clubbed you on the head...

Brooks: Yes.

Officer: ...and stole your wallet.

Brooks: Yes, yes, yes. If you want to be a pedant about it, technically that is a description with which I cannot disagree.

Officer: "Pedant" is a big part of my job description, sir.

Brooks: I see. So are we through?

Officer: Not quite sir. A few minutes ago you were quite worked up over some people you seemed to imply were in some way conspiring with big man in the Republican t-shirt, and Tea Party flag and hat.

Flips through his notebook.

Officer: You identified a "Nancy Pelosi" and a "Harry Reid" by name, and implicated two groups called "liberals" and "Democrats".

Brooks: Finally! Yes! The Liberals!

Officer: Now if you would be good enough to point to exactly where these persons and groups were located relative to the crime scene.

Brooks: I don't understand.

Officer: I mean, did you see Nancy Pelosi in one of those windows up there? Perhaps talking to your assailant on a cell phone?

Brooks: Of course not.

Officer: Did you hear a group of these "Liberals" hiding around the corner shouting instructions? Or maybe this "Harry Reid" person drove past you in a car in a threatening manner?

Brooks: No. It doesn't work like that.

Officer: What "doesn't work like that"?

Brooks: (mutters inaudibly)

Officer: I'm sorry sir, could you speak up please? I couldn't hear you.

Brooks: "Centrism", alright? I said "Centrism"?

Officer: Meaning...what?

Brooks: Meaning that Liberals don't actually have to be present or in any way involved to be blameworthy.

Officer: So they're...invisible Liberals?

Brooks: No, no! You don't understand. They're not "invisible"; they're...uh...implicit. See, implicit in everything that guy with the bat did, there is a liberal counter-move or opposite-thingie which makes the Left equally to blame.

Officer stares silently.

Brooks: And that is where the real detective work begins.

Officer: The "real" detective work?

Brooks: Of course! Any idiot can look at mere evidence and blame the crazy Republican with the bat, but a real detective knows he has to keep looking and looking and looking and looking until he figures out the secret Liberal-counter-recto-converse thingie which makes the crazy Republican with a bat and Nancy Pelosi equally to blame.

Officer: Fascinating. Then what happens?

Brooks: Then you write it up in 800-words for the New York Times, go home to your suburban mansion and wait for huge bags of money to arrive.

Officer: Is that all?

Brooks: Basically. You also get invited onto national teevee and radio talk shows where your repeat your column word-for-word, but that's just beer money.

Officer: And that's what you think "real detective work" is?

Brooks: Sure. What else would you call it?

Officer: I'm sure I don't know, sir. I'm a trained police detective and all I see here is one Republican who has been beaten and mugged by another Republican.

Brooks: Ah, but to the truly trained eye, Officer, the implicit Liberalness here is evident.

Officer: (sighs) Mr. Brooks , "implicit" is from a Latin word. "Implicitus". It means "interwoven".

Brooks: You know Latin?

Officer: Yes sir.

Brooks: (mutters) Fuck me.

Officer: So explain to my untrained eye exactly in what way are Liberals "interwoven" with a crime committed against you on an empty street by a crazed Republican with a baseball bat?

Brooks: (petulant) Look, that's just the way it works.

Officer: The way what works?

Brooks: "Centrism".

Officer: So according to this "Centrism", every time a Republican assaults someone, somewhere out there is a Liberal who is at least equally to blame for it?

Brooks: Correct.

Officer: And every time a Liberal does something wrong, a Republican is also at fault?

Brooks: No, every time a Liberal does something wrong Conservatism is vindicated and Ronald Reagan smiles down on us from Heaven.

Officer: I see. (closes his notebook) I think I have all I need here.

Brooks: So what happens now?

Officer: Now we pick this guy up. Based on the description you gave us -- Republican in a funny hat who screams "Commie" at random strangers before smacking them with a baseball bat -- it shouldn't be that hard.

Brooks: And Nancy Pelosi too?

Officer: No, not Nancy Pelosi too; we pedants in the police department are limited to acting only on actual evidence.

Brooks: Then what?

Officer: Then we book him, you ID him, it goes to court and he goes to prison.

Brooks: Oh no, no, no. We can't do that.

Officer: Excuse me?

Brooks: We can't do that.

Officer: Is there a problem?

Brooks: (drops his voice) Honestly, if there is any way for you to just discreetly get my wallet back and let the rest of it drop... (trails off)

Officer: Mr. Brooks, some very serious crimes have been committed here, and but for a little bit of luck you could be lying dead in the street. And given what you've told me, if we act quickly there is a very good chance we can catch the person who did it, put him behind bars and keep him from hurting anyone else.

Brooks: And I appreciate that, but you must understand, there are wider implications.

Officer: What are you taking about? This guy's a violent lunatic -- with club -- who is walking around ripping people off and then smashing them in the head? Why in the world would you not want to press charges against him?

Brooks: (Looks around nervously and whispers) Because he's my boss.

I am sincerely glad that after writing +500 posts about Mr. Brooks' shameless frauds and fabulisms since I began this blog nearly eight years ago, some members of our professional media are also starting to pick up the scent.

That being said...


D. said...

I remember that post from 2010; in fact, I think I linked to it.

That Brooks guy just has no shame, and probably not enough of a conscience to put on a cracker.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Brooks: No, no! You don't understand. They're not "invisible"; they're...uh...implicit. See, implicit in everything that guy with the bat did, there is a liberal counter-move or opposite-thingie which makes the Left equally to blame.

OFFICER! I wish to report a theft.

Brooks stole all of that from the Dean, David Broder.

Kevin Holsinger said...

Good morning, Mr. Glass.

"Only one guy can be the best."

Actually, I was thinking more of the ending of "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" after Sabertooth saved Wolverine from Weapon 11...

"Nobody kills you but me."

Hef said...

The media gophers are starting to poke their heads out of their burrows. They must think it's safe out there. We know better. They're prolly gonna get bonked by a shovel real soon.

Pamela Merritt said...

Awesome. I have not been able to picture Brooks' bland visage without your Photoshop accessories; now his thought processes have been illustrated like a Punch magazine cartoon.

I'm happy about that. I think.

rick mcginn said...


rick mcginn said...


kamagra price said...

Of idleness comes no goodness

Susan of Texas said...

It is the nature of the beast; people only turn on their leaders when the leaders can no longer give them what they want/need.

But before that moment arrives, bloggers like you prepare the way. The drip-drip-drip of constant criticism is always there in the background. It will be ignored for a very long time until a critical mass is reached and the followers switch from following the pundit to following the pundit's critics.

Of course most of the followers will just choose a new public opinion leader/big thinker/beltway pundit, but such is blogging.

steeve said...

"Any idiot can look at mere evidence"

Idiot authoritarians won't be happy unless they think they possess secret, hidden knowledge that transcends the obvious. Never mind that they simultaneously claim to be the majority.

If they can't use a secret decoder ring to access the world, they have no choice but to be straightforwardly better than the people around them. And they've tried that for years without getting anywhere.

Don P said...

Drifty as John the Baptist....

Works for me!

chautauqua said...

Great front page! Makes me long for the days of 21.9 gasoline.

Hef said...

And of course ... I only read you because you ARE the damn pool hustler!

Hamfast Ruddyneck said...

Off topic: I expect the "American Pickers" would LOVE to visit that place in your picture at the top, if they haven't done so already.

Will Wyatt said...

Good clean fun, driftglass, thank you

Bisham said...

Sorry for the late comment, been out of range in Baja surfing this very fine swell we've been having here on the lefty coast.

I missed the original post of dFb's hypothetical arrest...I must have been in my "c'mon Driftglass, another post on brooks?" phase before I came full circle and accepted the value and necessity to keep plugging, just keep plugging because that's what its gonna take. And with your talent for metaphor, the subversion is that much more effective.

Batocchio said...

Can a brother get a regular paying gig?