Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Alex Pareene Fires Some of the Loveliest Spitballs Around


Number 4 on his annual Hack List:  David Brooks.

A sample:
He gets to know these kids. And he realizes, or decides, that he hates them. They’re unjustifiably self-assured. They’ve got atrocious taste in everything, especially music and politics. They’re all unaware beneficiaries of a cushy life of grade inflation. These people are going to succeed him? This miserable bunch, these kids who’ve mistaken their performance of overachievement for actual achievement of any kind?
He hates them, and he hates, too, the people he imagines them growing into. He imagines them becoming the kinds of people he has always hated, in fact. People who’d helped to erode his status signifiers and people who mock his seriousness. People who write for Web sites. Web sites! And the people writing for Web sites have no deference for the Columnist. He has always dismissed these Web sites, but he now worries they are where new columnists will come from. Younger men, with more marketable sensibilities, adopt his patented method of Idea generation,and generate more buzz than he can now manage. People realize that the Columnist speaks to a constituency of one. Seriousness is still a valuable trait, obviously, and the Columnist will be welcome at Aspen every year for the rest of his days. He will not go hungry. But the Columnist sees this world just beside his own, where his seriousness is disrespected, even scorned. This world is the problem, he decides.
Now the Columnist decides he’ll write a column just for his constituency of one.
He writes a column for himself. The column is about those terrible kids. It is about those awful Web site writers. It is about everyone the Columnist knows professionally and socially. Of course, most of all it is about the Columnist. Because the Columnist is an expert in conflating unrelated or irrelevant elements in order to craft an Idea, he will conflate all of the things he hates into one subject, and then he will imagine that subject’s decline into irrelevance and existential dissatisfaction. (The column is self-hating, but he is still the Columnist so it is also still self-aggrandizing. The Columnist makes sure to recognize and praise his own modesty and humility, compared to the relentless assuredness of those kids and those Web site writers.)
There are still jokes. There is a joke about Macklemore, a reminder of the column he had those kids write. There are slightly exaggerated observations of the habits and foibles of the Columnist’s hyperspecific socioeconomic and regional milieu, of the sort he’s always made. Indeed, the central joke is very nearly one he’s already made. But the Columnist is no longer lightly ribbing. The Columnist is trying to inflict damage. But no one really understands why, or whom the column is directed at.
Of course, like everything Alex or Charles Pierce or I write about Mr. Brooks, none of it will ever make the slightest crease in the armor defending our Elite Beltway Pundits. Mr. Brooks is one of the many public faces of a system so completely insulated from any meaningful form of accountability that, like King John and the Magna Carta, nothing short of a rebellion by the disgruntled feudal barons of our Elite Beltway Pundit Food Pyramid will ever rein in Holy Lie of Both Siderism which gives the likes of Mr. Brooks such power and reach.  

The privations and protests of peons like you and me mean absolutely nothing.


Unknown said...

Even though you won't leave a crease in David Brooks's very expensive and elegantly cut armor, there is still utility in exposing him for the empty suit of armor he really is. It give people like me a chance to point some of his more credulous friends in the right direction when they say something like ``You know, David Brooks is my idea of a good conservative.''

CM said...

**It give people like me a chance to point some of his more credulous friends in the right direction when they say something like ``You know, David Brooks is my idea of a good conservative.''**

That is what I thought too. I keep referring some of my both side do it friends to this blog. But it is so difficult to change their minds. Bothsiderism is so seductive and false equivalency is just so easy. Both requires very little mental exertion.