Saturday, December 13, 2014

David Brooks: Conservatism's Red Right Hand

As more and more of Mr. Brooks' Conservative running buddies go full Hannibal Lecter in gleeful defense of torture as a vital tool in their Arsenal of Dumbocracy, Mr. Brooks continues to competently perform his specific role within the larger Conservative conspiracy: floating on a giant cloud of money far above every Conservative atrocity, deflecting the blame for it as efficiently as possible using whatever tactics are left in the Both Siderist' arsenal.

Before rolling up his sleeves to do Roger Ailes' dirty-work, however, Mr. Brooks had to first carefully insulate himself from any hint that he in a soulless, Conservative cipher who works the front parlor of the wingnut media whorehouse every bit as hard and profitably as Boss Limbaugh works its back alley. He does this by piously wrinkling his nose and speak briefly and in the most Blandly Passive Voice in America about the obvious horror of what was done by an administration which he had backed right to the hilt:
...this aroused the moral sensibility. It’s very hard to read this report and not be morally outraged. And so that does have — that had a great effect.
Having tagged that base, Mr. Brooks was then left free to wander the countryside, caressing every single wingnut talking point entirely unmolested by Mr. Mark Shields, the Alan Colmes of the tote-bag-and-Civil-War-DVD crowd.

First on the menu, a standard-issue "Mah oh mah, its all so deucedly paaaahtisan" fainting-couch gambit:
I do have some sympathy for those who say the document was too partisan. It was written by Democratic staffers. It was done in a partisan way. I’m a little bothered, as a reporter, that they didn’t interview as many people as they should have.
Except, of course, Mr. Brooks has not been a "reporter" in any sense of the word since Christ was a corporal. But we cannot tarry in the sad garden of imaginary partisanship too long, or we'll miss Mr. Brooks' masterful deployment the "So are they all, all honorable men" defense --
I think the people who were involved — and we know this from the report — the people who were involved were appalled at the time, but sometimes they thought, you know, they are doing the right thing.
-- not seen in these parts since the time Mr. Brooks went under the table to "report" on the nobility of Scooter Libby's junk.
DAVID BROOKS: I went to lunch with Scooter Libby twice when he was -- and he told me...

JIM LEHRER: What were the dates of those?

DAVID BROOKS: Well, what struck me was, A, he told me nothing. I didn't even know what he was ordering half the time.

DAVID BROOKS: And he was incredibly discrete. And the second thing that always struck me is, he would pay in cash. Usually, you can buy somebody lunch if it's up to $20. But he would insist on following the law to the stickler of the detail. He would always put down a $20 bill.
Third, the incredibly lazy Mr. Brooks just snatches a leftover "But The Droooones!" turd roll right off the plate of Fox News "reporter" and professional Megyn Kelly "before" photo, Gretchen Carlson. Here is  Ms. Carlson (from If You Only News):
"...instead of bringing in terrorism suspects for questioning, President Obama has simply kills them, with drones. So is that more humane than waterboarding?"
And here is Mr. Brooks:
We kill people with drones. We’re killing people all the time with drones. Killing is probably worse than torture.
And finally and inevitably, having never set one pink toe outside of his own gated suburb and never vetted anything more substantial than the lint from his own belly button, Mr. Both Sides states with utterly unearned confidence that he knows exactly who is really to blame for these atrocities.

Surprise!  It's everybody!
It wasn’t just the CIA. It was the whole country. There was a lot of people, and a lot of people up the political chain, a lot of people in Congress, a lot of people in the public. And so we’re trying to rediscover our moral center.
But honestly, my laugh-out-loud moment came courtesy of the closing remark from show moderator, Judy Woodruff:
JUDY WOODRUFF: Tough questions tonight.
Not by a million miles, Judy.

Not by a million miles.


Yastreblyansky said...

I just want to pause to point out a logical error in that Carlson-Brooks exchange: drones are not an alternative to torture.

The Obama administration is not raining down bombs from pilotless aircraft on the people the Bush administration tortured. The Obama administration is trying to figure out ways of getting those people out of detention, except Congress keeps trying to stop them from doing it.

The targets of drone attacks are the people the Bush administration tried to kill by other means. Drones are an alternative to killing people with piloted planes or ground troops. (Or not killing them at all, which I would certainly prefer, but I don't think that's what Carlson and Brooks have in mind.)

What we instinctively don't like about drones is that they are cowardly, especially in war-romantic cliché belief, because the pilot is at a computer console, perhaps thousands of miles away, and incurs no danger.

But the other side is that drones kill fewer people (including pilots) and especially fewer innocent civilians. They are better than conventional killing, in the way the guillotine or lethal injection is better than public hanging. Torture, in contrast, is the absolute worst thing in its category.

There's no way in which you could legitimately say drones are "worse than torture" unless you have some scenario in mind where you would be choosing between them.

I say no war and no capital punishment is better, and I think nobody should ever be detained for interrogation if they can't be charged with a crime. That would be a lot better than drones and torture. But the tu quoque argument Carlson and Brooks are using is too facile and stupid for words.

wagonjak said...

I'm not sure how you can even watch PBS when they bring on Brooks and Shields (and sometimes Ruth Marcus to balance it with a woman's perspective!)
PBS News does do some great sidebar stuff, but their whole news organ has been castrated. Whenever this duo appears to tell us peasants what the week's news means (no matter what the subject) I grab my remo and flee to the closest nature or reality show!

Mike Lumish said...

The most interesting defense of torture that I have seen recently rests on the repeated bizarre non sequitur: First he thumped his chest and bragged about not losing his sh*t over 9/11 like those cowardly liberals, then he blamed the liberals for the Iraq invasion on the grounds that they did not work hard enough to stop Bush if they thought it was such a bad idea, then he whined that if you are OK with invading Iraq and with drone murdering innocent babies you can not turn around and get all pissy about lawful interrogations.

Despite everything, I have to marvel at the mind that came up with this chain of assertions. Just like Brooks he has his role in the conservative drama.

Regards, Horace

steeve said...

I know it's baffling to the Brookses. When people are evil, sometimes they're opposed by people on the other side of evil. Partisanship!