David Brooks is back and ready to blow some shit up!
Oh yes he is!
Of course, first he'll have to trudge stolidly through one more explanation about how Barack Obama should stop doing something Barack Obama never actually does (from Charlie Pierce's assay of Mr. Brooks' latest owl pellet):
Does this remotely sound like anything President There Is No Red America And No Blue America ever has said And it takes a rare kind of obliviousness to quote in support a former word 'ho from the Avignon Presidency, the one that gave us "you're either with the terrorists or against them." Is Brooks taking his book leave in the Phantom Zone?
And then he'll have to plod though Episode 1,785 of How Both Extremes of Some Fictional Scenario Are Equally Bad (with bonus point for name-checking Bush Administration dead-ender Mikey Fucking Gerson writing in neocon rag Washington Post to bolster his argument):
On the one hand, there are those who are completely cynical about politics. But, as the columnist Michael Gerson has put it...On the other hand, there are those who form their identity around politics and look to it to complete their natures. These overpoliticized people come in two forms: the aspirational and the tribal. The aspirational hope...
(Brief confessional aside: as an "aspirational", my hopes have often centered around the idea that one day a chihuahua-sized meteor bearing an eerie resemblance to the head of Mike Royko would smite Mr. Brooks in the middle of an Aspen Institute lecture on Centrism, but so far a humorless Almighty has not obliged me.)
But after that he will definitely burn this motherfucker down!
See he's all rested and rarin' to go, having been on this "book leave" thingie for three months. A experience he describes as:
[not writing] a column in three months. In the course of that time, I’ve stepped back from politics, a bit, and thought about other things. That naturally raises the question: How much emotional and psychic space should politics take up in a normal healthy brain?
I myself have never take book leave.
I do confess to taking French leave, often, especially back in my dim and distant past of full-time employment back in Chicago when going to social functions after work ("after work" usually meaning 9-ish, and then back in the office before 8:00 the next morning) was virtually mandatory, but I had this blog that I wrote, and all 18 of my readers at the time would have been teddibly put out if I didn't have a fresh pie or two baked and ready by dawn, so I perfected the art of quietly fading, which is quite a trick when you're over two meters tall.
But I've never, ever had an employer who thought tossing off 800 mediocre, shopworn words worth of Elite Beltway Received Wisdom twice a week (with a virtually unlimited travel budget at my command) was such an act of back-snapping, bone-grinding labor that I not only needed extensive me-time away from it to recharge my batteries lecturing, touring and vacationing...
....but also needed a solid, three-month break away from the easiest writing gig in American journalism for a "book leave".
A book leave, where I "stepped back from politics" only in the sense that I continue right on troweling out my inerrant Both Siderist wisdom in every other venue where fake Centrism remains the coin of the realm.
Or on PBS.
Or "Meet the Press", on which Mr. Brooks recently had a big 'ol sad over how the entire theory of representative self-government now hangs in the balance because the great, big, lumbering gummint is completely incapable of providing health care despite the fact that the government currently provides excellent, efficiently-administered health care to millions of Americans every day (with emphasis added):
Government is the hard work of creating a background order, but it is not the main substance of life. As Samuel Johnson famously put it, “How small, of all that human hearts endure,/That part which laws or kings can cause or cure.” Government can set the stage, but it can’t be the play.It is just too balky an instrument. As we’re seeing even with the Obamacare implementation, government is good at check-writing, like Social Security, but it is not nimble in the face of complexity. It doesn’t adapt to failure well. There’s a lot of passive-aggressive behavior.
That quote was from Mr. Brooks' first New York Times column upon his return, fresh and rested, from his book leave.
This is the quote from Mr. Brooks' latest trip to the "Meet the Press" fainting couch, replete with awful football metaphors, hauled out like gas station taco dip because it's Sunday and you forgot the game is on and the guys are coming over!
I have to say, people are appraising whether this government can work. Can government be nimble? Can it learn from its mistakes? And I would say the website is just a small symptom that is not nimble. Government is like an offensive lineman. It can do something really well. It can do blocking. It can create order. But when you ask government to be a wide receiver, then you're asking two things it can't do. And I think we're in a situation like that. We're asking it to do things it can't do. Republicans win elections when Democrats overreach by asking government to do things it can't do.
And thus do we see the return of two august American journalistic traditions: Mr. Brooks making a nice dollar going on "Meet the Press" and reading aloud his own "New York Times" column more-or-less verbatim, and Mr. Gregory's heroically refusing to be baited into pushing back on his friend's arrant bullshit in any way whatsoever. A heroic refusal that extended even to Mr. Brooks' insistence that there was a deeply meaningful parallel between a glitchy website roll-out, and the catastrophic Iraq War which Mr. Brooks so stridently and volubly championed.
DAVID GREGORY:--your point, too, I mean conservatives are saying, "Look, you had a big idea. You have to execute."DAVID BROOKS:Yeah. Well--DAVID GREGORY:"You can't have one without the other."DAVID BROOKS:People said that about President Bush with Iraq, too.DAVID GREGORY:Yeah.
It was was just as bad as ever.
The same string of fictions and falsehoods, loosely and lazily basted together and offered up as insight and sagacity.
The same honor-among-thieves gentleman's agreement never to call each other out on the shit you're slinging.
The same old David Brooks: tanned, rested and ready to boldly go where he and every other Both Siderist has gone one million times before.
By the way, "Meet the Press" transcript writer, this was not a spit-swapping exchange of Received Beltway Wisdom between teevee's David Brooks and David Gregory --
DAVID BROOKS:Well, that's right. There is-- it's always been this retrenchment of collectivism. Right? On one hand, and especially, you know, you're bringing up the early period, you know, this country was divided. Sort of the northern part, you had the initial settlers were okay with collectivism. But the folks that immigrated and migrated to the south weren't so much that way.But let's go back to the lost year. I mean health care is just the icing on the cake. Where's immigration, his initial push for guns, this feeling of, frankly, rebuilding trust in government, breaking the fever that he thought-- ? There were all these things that he thought the second term, that his election to a second term, the validation of a second term--DAVID GREGORY:Right.DAVID BROOKS:--was going to do. And it's not just a lost year, it's a setback.
If you check the tape you will find it was a spit-swapping exchange of Received Beltway Wisdom between teevee's Chuck Todd and David Gregory.
But I understand your confusion.
After all, with the entire "Meet the Press" banquet table fairly groaning under the weight of one steaming pile of unchecked, unchallenged Elite Beltway Both Siderist twaddle after another, under the hurried pressure of making a posting deadline you can be forgiven for not being able to tell at a glance which turd belongs to which turdist.