Friday, March 13, 2015

David Brooks: The Great Project Continues, Ctd.

Baby Centrists want their Blue Velvet.

David Brooks -- the president of and majority shareholder in the Republican Ponyshit Mining Corporation -- has some advice for Hillary Rodham Clinton on how to campaign in the toxic political wasteland his party has created.

Can you guess what it is?

G'wan and guess.  It don't cost nuthin'.

Are you ready?

As his party rolls out its entire 24/7 ratfucking armada to destroy her, Mr. Brooks' advises Hillary that her very best move is to not fight back.

Because Reagan!

No kidding.

I must say, as America's leading Brooksian scholar and critic, from a historical perspective, David Brooks is having an absolutely flawless, David Brooks week.

Monday was Scold The Poors Day, which produced perfectly sculpted pile of smug, ivory tower moralizing feculence, that was immediately torn to bits by everyone from Paul Krugman to Matt Taibbi to Charlie Pierce to me.

And as has been true for 20 years, being horribly fucking wrong yet again had no effect whatsoever on Mr. Brooks, or his fans, or his employers.  Which is why today Mr. Brooks had the calm confidence to roll out another butchery of modern history in the service on insuring that people like David Brooks never have to face judgement on the toxic political wasteland his party has created.

Or, as many of you know it, just one more chapter in Mr. Brooks' Great Project to create a wholly counterfeit American political history in which the actual Conservative movement which Mr. Brooks helped to build disappears entirely -- replaced by a comforting fairy tale of Noble Whigs (led by the humble and modest David Brooks) doing existential battle with the Dirty Hippies.

From me, back in 2012:
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

In his fairy tale, Mr. Brooks describes and eulogizes a fictional Conservatism built from a tense but harmonious fusion between what Mr. Brooks refers to as "economic conservatives" and "traditional conservatives" -- 
The economic conservatives were in charge of the daring ventures that produced economic growth. The traditionalists were in charge of establishing the secure base — a society in which families are intact, self-discipline is the rule, children are secure and government provides a subtle hand.
-- that never existed in the real world...

...whereas the real American Conservatism that has blighted this land for +30 years -- the Conservatism  of Jerry Falwell, Paul Weyrich, Phyllis Schlafly, Newt Gingrich, Lee Atwater and the Southern Strategy -- is to be found nowhere at all in Mr. Brooks' telling.


Remarkable that the Neoconservative and the fundamentalist Christian conservative and the bigot conservative have all been completely unpersoned from David Brooks' imaginary history of a movement to which he has devoted his life. you remember that political party which spent the last three years obsessively obstructing the Obama Administration?  And fetishizing Barack Obama's birth certificate, ACORN, Saul Ailinsky and the Kenyan Usurper's secret plans to turn the country over to an army of welfare cheats? And wrecking the nation's bond rating?  And passing more meaningless, brutal anti-woman , anti-choice legislation than any other nine Congresses in history?  And cooking up laws requiring plastic punishment probes be shoved up women's vaginae?  And loudly declaiming their medieval ideas about rape and birth control very loudly?

Remember them?

In Mr. Brooks' "1001 Burkean Nights" those people simply do not exist....
And the thing is, he's getting away with  it.

In public.

You know, it must be an amazing feeling?  To have the power to take a steaming dump in the pages of the New York Times, week after week, year after year?  And then walk the Earth afterwards, with the perfect assurance that not only will no one of substance ever call you out on it, but that the more you do it, the more money and praise and awards and flattery your colleagues will heap upon you.

But to do the job which David Brooks does every week requires a certain, very specific skill set because the ritual her performs for money must be enacted just so.  He must dress up in the costume exactly right and say the words just so because Baby Centrists want their Blue Velvet, but don't you fucking look at them! (Not safe for work).

This is the real performance art of David Brooks; whoring just so -- for money and without shame -- for the powerfuckers of Washington D.C.

But there are tricks to this trade, and the most important trick is, believe it or not, to be found in the wise words of the late Carl Sagan, who said, "If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe."

And if David Brooks wishes to sell a scenario with a straight face in which Hillary Clinton's best possible electoral strategy is to lay down her sword and let David Brooks' GOP have at her --
The only way to reverse the protocol crisis is to create policies that can win bipartisan support. If the next president gets the substance right, the manners will follow.

Can Hillary Clinton do this? Is she strong enough to rise above hostility, to instead reveal scary and vulnerable parts of herself so that voters feel as though they can trust and relate to her? We’ll see.
-- then he must first invent an entirely fake reality in which that isn't the Stupidest Fucking Idea anyone ever heard of.

Which is -- surprise! -- exactly what Mr. Brooks has spent the last 20 years doing.

Like Bob Heinlein's chart of "Future History", which he created and used as background and structure for many of his stories (click for larger) --

-- Mr. Brooks has created a fictional "Past and Present History" of America which informs everything he writes.

But unlike Bob Heinlein, who clearly labeled his stories as "Fiction" and sold them for pennies a word in pulp magazines  --

-- Mr. Brooks is paid to pass off his crappy Whig fan fiction as sagacious Beltway wisdom and unvarnished truth for millions of dollars on the op-ed pages of America's Newspaper of Record.  

Which makes the amazingly easy job of the incredibly lazy Mr. Brooks even easier, because no matter the subject, every column can be generated by an algorithm based on Mr. Brooks' Fake History of America.

Like, say, today's excrescence.

If you want to spin a fable about how Hillary Clinton should lay herself bare before Mr. Brooks' barbarian horde and hope for the best, you must build it as a modified frame story --
A frame story... is a literary technique that sometimes serves as a companion piece to a story within a story, whereby an introductory or main narrative is presented, at least in part, for the purpose of setting the stage either for a more emphasized second narrative or for a set of shorter stories. The frame story leads readers from a first story into another, smaller one (or several ones) within it.
--  because you can't just jump into an idea as patently ridiculous as that without a lot of whooping and dancing and running around to distract your readers from the staggering idiocy of your central premise.

So first, you have to lay down a saturation barrage of Both Siderist artillery in which you draw on your Fake History of America to pretend that everyone is is somehow equally to blame for the toxic political wasteland your party has created (also too, make sure your analogy is as condescendingly bourgeois as possible):
The political world is stuck in the middle of an accelerating protocol crisis. All sorts of customary acts of self-restraint are being washed away. It used to be that senators didn’t go out campaigning against one another. It used to be they didn’t filibuster except in rare circumstances. It used to be they didn’t block presidential nominations routinely.

It used to be that presidents didn’t push the limits of executive authority by redefining the residency status of millions of people without congressional approval. It used to be that presidents didn’t go out negotiating arms control treaties in a way that doesn’t require Senate ratification. It used to be that senators didn’t write letters to hostile nations while their own president was negotiating with them.

All the informal self-restraints that softened the brutality of politics are being torn away. It’s like going to a dinner party where all the little customs of politeness are gone and everything is just grab what you can when you can.
See!  Everybody's to blame! Everyone! For everything!  So stop looking at me!  Says the moon-faced twat who, just three fucking days ago in the pages of the same fucking paper, wrote an entire column entitled "The Cost of Relativism" is which he put the boot to The Poors because...
These norms weren’t destroyed because of people with bad values. They were destroyed by a plague of nonjudgmentalism, which refused to assert that one way of behaving was better than another. People got out of the habit of setting standards or understanding how they were set.
And that, ladies and gentlemenis what makes it art.

But to haul a Conestoga this laden with raw, aromatic bullshit across the pages of the New York Times, art alone is not enough.  Even a fistful of Both Siderism sparklers and bottle rockets is not enough. 

To take this one home -- to finish the back half of the frame for this narrative -- Mr. Brooks must ransack his Fake History of America once again and come up with Three!Count 'Em!Three! unimpeachably bipartisan examples of Great Presidents who were swept to power and created governing majorities because they (and I quote)
"resist[ed] the urge to fight scorn with scorn" and "[rose] above the bitterness"
And who were these paragons whose examples Mr. Brooks urges Hillary Clinton to follow?
In these cases, Clinton’s admirable respect for privacy shifted into a generalized atmosphere of hostility. It will be interesting in the months ahead to see if she continues to react to political stress in the same way. More specifically, it will be interesting to see if goes strong or goes large.

If she goes strong, she will fight fire with fire. If she is hit, she’ll hit back. She’ll treat information as a source of power to be hoarded and controlled. She’ll strap on armor each morning and go into each day strictly disciplined — ready to prove that this woman is tough enough to be president.

If she goes large, she’ll resist the urge to fight scorn with scorn. Temperamentally, she’ll have to rise above the bitterness, as Reagan, F.D.R. and Lincoln did. She and her staff will recall that the primary mission is not to win the news cycle by hitting back at whatever loon is hitting her. It’s to craft a government agenda that can win the steady support of 61 senators. It’s to win a governing majority.


And Lincoln.

Lincoln, who did indeed show great compassion and generosity to his former belligerents...after he waged five years of bloody Civil War and burned the Confederacy to the ground.

A bloody civil war which nearly destroyed the country, but did not destroy the deep, monstrous roots of white supremacy, which was this country's Original Sin.

Roots which grew back again strong and flowered as Jim Crow, sprouting a thousand trees from which a thousand American citizens were lynched with wink-and-nod approval of the local government in the name of state's rights and white supremacy.  Roots which had to be driven back beneath the soil yet again with blood and troops and faith and the law during the Civil Rights struggle.

Roots which were coaxed back out of hiding by men like Ronald Wilson Reagan, who kicked off his campaign for President by planting his feet firmly in Heart of Dixie and issuing a dog-whistle loud and clear enough for everyone to hear...except David Fucking Brooks, who went on to write an entire columns about how bogus this all was, man!  Just bogus!

After which he once again got his ass sawed off and handed to him in a very big and public way, and this time it was not just by all the usual suspects, but all the usual suspects and two of his own New York Times' colleagues.  

After which...nothing happened.  Nothing whatsoever.  Mr. Brooks' continued right on making shit up for a living, singing his Both Siderist siren's song, and steadily rising to the top of  his profession.

Which brings us back to today, and to the last of Mr. Brooks' historical examples of Great Men who Never Went There:  Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Here is what the F.D.R. -- the real F.D.R., not Mr. Brooks' ersatz sock-puppet F.D.R. -- had to say about his opponents in a 1936 campaign speech at Madison Square Garden:
"For nearly four years you have had an Administration which instead of twirling its thumbs has rolled up its sleeves. We will keep our sleeves rolled up.

We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace—business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering.

They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob.

Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me—and I welcome their hatred.

I should like to have it said of my first Administration that in it the forces of selfishness and of lust for power met their match. I should like to have it said of my second Administration that in it these forces met their master."
I believe F.D.R.'s words speak for themselves. 

Mr. Brooks believe F.D.R. is a character in a work of fiction he is making up as he goes along.  

One of us is filing for unemployment again this week and one of us is America's most respected and ubiquitous public intellectuals.  

Here endeth the lesson.


pm carpenter weighs in:
To accomplish this stunning incongruity, Mr. Brooks simply erases history, reality, and memory. Gone are Mr. Obama's abundant concessions to Republicans on, for instance, his much-needed stimulus bill, which was the president's earliest attempt to undo much of the extraordinary damage their president had just done. Gone also are Mr. Obama's compromises on healthcare reform, as well as his compromises on deficit control and taxes, not to mention his assorted attempts at compromise on Social Security and virtually everything else that required executive-legislative cooperation. Poof! It was all gone, just gone, buried and out of sight under Mr. Brooks' slick fiction.


Red Hand said...

Mr. Brooks is paid to pass off his crappy Whig fan fiction as sagacious Beltway wisdom and unvarnished truth for millions of dollars on the op-ed pages of America's Newspaper of Record.

* * *

[David Brooks] the moon-faced twat who, just three fucking days ago in the pages of the same fucking paper, wrote an entire column entitled "The Cost of Relativism" is which he put the boot to The Poors

* * *

America's most respected and ubiquitous public intellectuals

I feel your pain, DB, and understand your anger, especially at the obscene misappropriation of FDR in service of DFB's latest mendacious exercise in false equivalence.

However, your emphasis on the NYT as "America's Newspaper of Record" gives the paper far more credit than it deserves in this day and age. It is just a shell of the great news institution that gave us New York Times vs. Sullivan, just as the WaPo no longer remotely resembles the paper that happened to have the same name in 1972 during Watergate.

Our entire "establishment" news media continues to decline precipitously, and its minions now debase the currency of words like "journalist" and "public intellectual," which once had far greater value.

To call DFB one of "America's most respected and ubiquitous public intellectuals" is simply to state that he's high on the list of loathsome hacks whose words are only worth sampling through deconstructions like yours.

Said less elegantly, you may be economically poor, but your satires of DFB will last far longer than any of the sh*t he writes. Cf. Juvenal.

Your Pal,


Anonymous said...

Is David Brooks a single individual, or is it just the pen name for a horde of Republican/libertarian hacks chained to typewriters in some bunker in the Hamptons, while the real DB goes on speaking tours seemingly unaware of what he's written in the past?

Unknown said...

And of course, David f'n Brooks' real bosses, the conservative agenda-setters for whom he plays his assigned role of fake concerned centrist vomiting up "both sides" mendacity on command, with a helpful dash of "...but it's really the hippies' (and thus Obama's) fault" have been spending the past 70 years trying (and fortunately mostly failing) to destroy FDR's, and liberalism's, legacy through its own project of rewriting history to make themselves and their forebears the heroes of the American story, when in fact they were the same next of bloodsucking vipers they are now.

So it's awfully rich of David f'n Brooks to summon FDR at all, much less in a positive way he secretly does not believe, about a man he secretly detests.