Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Today In "Both Sides Do It": Approaching Both Siderist Singularity With David Brooks and Ron Frownier

This is what the Both Siderist singularity looks like:

What you need to know going in is that David Brooks hates hippies.

Especially imaginary hippies.

As I wrote in the obituary for Mr. Brooks ideological predecessor back in 2011 (and will now shamelessly reuse here) imaginary hippies are the sawdust and breadcrumb filler he keeps heaping into his increasingly inedible journalistic meatloaf; the thumb he presses down ever harder on the scales of his funny little rambles about America during his declining years (which encompassed all of the 21st Century and a big chunk of the end of the 20th) to artificially "balance out" the clear and horrifying fact that Party of Lincoln and Eisenhower that he had known as a barefoot lad growing has devolving into a billionaire-industrialist-funded mob of fundies, racists, imbeciles and sociopaths.

Mr. Brooks' most most often-recounted childhood memory is a mocking recollection of attending a Be-In with his hippie parents where he stuck his hand in a fire to retrieve a $5.00 from a little pyre of cash that was being burned in protest.  And from aggressively pimping the Iraq War to blaming the Penn State rape case (and crime in general) on the 60s, it is not an exaggeration to say that 45 years later, America's Most Respected Conservatives Dissembler and Moral Scold literally bought himself a multi-million-dollar mansion from the proceeds of a life spent punching imaginary hippies for money.

David Brooks really hates hippies.

And no one represents the spirit of what David Brooks hates most in this world -- a spirit now gone gray but still radical,  thoughtful but still clarion-clear, politically pragmatic but still mission-driven -- than Bernie Sanders.

Ergo Mr. Brooks must destroy Bernie Sanders.


And being David Brooks, he has one and only one, tried-and-true method of destroying that which is terrifyingly true and beautiful and unabashedly Liberal:  by cooking up some lie flexible enough to yoke something decent and Liberal to whatever misshapen monstrosity has slouched out of the Conservative ghoul factory this week and then heaving them both from the fantail of the good ship Centrism into the great, dark sea of Political Unseriousness, where they slip beneath the waves and never trouble the beautiful minds of the Villagers, who are all up on the lido deck getting drunk with Chuck Todd and Mark Halperin. 

Which is, or course, exactly what Mr. Brooks did, following the accepted recipe of the Villager Both Siderist Playbook.  

Take two, cartoonish batty candidates for the nomination of Mr. Brooks's Republican party who accurately reflecting the rotting, batshit heart of the GOP ...
Donald Trump didn’t even swear allegiance to his party’s eventual nominee until last week. He is a lone individual whose main cause and argument is Himself.

Ben Carson has no history in politics and a short history in the Republican Party. He is a politically unattached figure whose primary lifetime loyalty has been to the field of medicine...
... add Bernie Sanders, who is a viable candidate for the nomination of the Democratic party...
Bernie Sanders is a socialist independent, who in the Senate caucuses with the Democrats.
...and a British Labor politician who has nothing to do with anything ...
And yet at the moment the favorite to become the next leader of the British Labour Party is Jeremy Corbyn. Mr. Corbyn has existed for decades on the leftward fringe of the Labour Party, tolerated as sort of a nice but dotty uncle.
... then lash them all together under David Brooks' theory that anyone -- Left or Right -- who has not courted the favor of Beltway hacks and grovelers like David Brooks is simply not fit to govern ... 
These four anti-party men have little experience in the profession of governing. They have no plausible path toward winning 50.1 percent of the vote in any national election. They have no prospect of forming a majority coalition that can enact their policies.
... and their followers -- Left and Right -- are self-indulgent children who are throwing tantrums instead of humbly meditating on how good they're going to have it once David Brooks' imaginary Neo Whigs finally rise up and take power:
These sudden stars are not really about governing. They are tools for their supporters’ self-expression. They allow supporters to make a statement, demand respect or express anger or resentment. Sarah Palin was a pioneer in seeing politics not as a path to governance but as an expression of her followers’ id.
As Tom Levenson notes over at Balloon Juice, there is not a word of truth in Mr. Brooks' imaginary history of Bernie Sanders.  As he does in most of his New York Times columns, in order to get his his little Both Siderist fife and drum to play, Mr. Brooks just makes shit up.  Which is clearly A-OK with the newpaper's owners and editors:
The entire thing is a dog’s breakfast — centered on a cynically ahistorical description of political parties, an argument that, in effect, the Republican Party’s inability to rein in its crazies is caused by a rise in “assertive individualism.” That, of course, blissfully omits all that uncomfortable record of explicit radicalization built into the fabric of Nixon’s southern strategy and its sequels.

But that’s Brooks’ problem: he aims to dismiss Trump, and to a lesser extent Carson, as betrayers of an imagined American ideal, and he doesn’t want to confront what their current success says about the Republican Party as a whole. So, enter Bernie Sanders.

The problem Brooks has there is that Sanders is not the same type of candidate as the GOP’s id-sters: he’s running a conventional Democratic campaign, drawing on a conventional subset of the Democratic base, and he’s advancing ideas that are, for the most part, absolutely within the Democratic party mainstream.

Let’s review: Carson and Trump: no experience in any elected office.

Sanders: four terms (eight years) as mayor of Burlington, VT. Member of the United States House of Representatives for sixteen years. Currently a second term United States Senator with almost nine years on the job. Among other roles, he serves now as the ranking member of the Budget Committee — one of the big three committees that have jurisdiction over taxes, appropriations and budget policy.** The ranking member, of course, is the senior member of the minority party on a given panel, which is to say that Bernie Sanders is currently serving as the Democratic party’s lead force on the committee that articulates the large scale policy structure of federal spending.
Both Siderism is a simple, reliable, all-occasion lie which has made David Brooks one of America's wealthiest and most influential political and cultural asshats.

Like the housing bubble and the tech bubble, everyone on the inside knows Both Siderism is a fraud; a shell game for lazy moderates, burn-out cynics and wingnut gas-sippers hungry for an alibi.  But the financial and professional rewards are far too great for those running this rigged game to bother worrying about the long-term damage their bullshit is doing to the country.

Their job is to make hay while the Centrist sun shines.

Cleaning up the toxic wasteland they are leaving in their wake is somebody else's problem.  


Kevin Holsinger said...

Good morning, Mr. Glass.

"I wonder what would happen if a sensible Donald Trump appeared — a former cabinet secretary or somebody who could express the disgust for the political system many people feel, but who instead of adding to the cycle of cynicism, channeled it into citizenship, into the notion that we are still one people, compelled by love of country to live with one another, and charged with the responsibility to make the compromises, build the coalitions, practice messy politics and sustain the institutions that throughout history have made national greatness possible."

Ooh! I know this one! The Republican base takes one look at him and shouts, "Bring us Barabbas!"

Or if you want a different Barry, there's always the Inauguration Day Republican pow-wow to obstruct everything Barack Obama would try to do in his first term.

Be seeing you.

bowtiejack said...

". . . to obstruct everything Barack Obama would try to do in his first term."

Because they're the real patriots.

Unknown said...

Someone respond to Ron Fournier's tweet and plead with him to get his head trauma (I suspect severe dementia) treated by a medical professional. It's obviously not getting better on its own. I'd do it myself but he blocked me.

dinthebeast said...

"fundies, racists, imbeciles AND sociopaths"?
Also, the breakdown of civic institutions? Any mention of just who the fuck it is who have been breaking them? Or why?
Didn't think so.
And David, the phenomenon you are witnessing goes by the name of "consequences" in the common tongue. Perhaps having so successfully isolated yourself from them for so long, you no longer remember what they look like. Be that as it may, I think you may have a refresher course in them to write (lamely) about fairly soon.

-Doug in Oakland

Red Hand said...

As he does in most of his New York Times columns, in order to get his his little Both Siderist fife and drum to play, Mr. Brooks just makes shit up. Which is clearly A-OK with the new[s]paper's owners and editors.

And THAT is the problem. The NYT's toleration of DFB's lies and laughable distortions is as disgraceful as DFB himself. It is fantasy to think that the occasional Krugman column demolishing DFB's nonsense adds "balance" to the paper's editorial "view." It merely begs the question why they put up with such a clown.

My own view is that Pinch is too dissolute, lazy and blind dumb to realize what's going on: a typical, entrenched, third generation family business owner who is in waaaaay over his head. I suspect he sees everyone else playing the bothsider game and thinks this is what passes for journalism.

Chan Kobun said...

David Brooks, the Saxton Hale of Imaginary Hippie Punching.

Lawrence said...

I recently had occasion to imagine David Brooks in the role of Lt. Gorman from Aliens. It's an unfair comparison for Gorman. He was, as she said, always an asshole, and certainly a bad soldier. But a soldier of some sort nonetheless.

Neo Tuxedo said...

Allan Powell, the philosophy professor and token liberal whose column appears in the Herald-Mail every Friday, has today devoted that column to the excerpts of The Road to Character dealing with Frances Perkins and Dwight D. Eisenhower. Would it be okay for me to refer the good people of Hagerstown to the yeoman work you've done explicating (as you so magnificently put it that one time) "the texture and density of the shit [Brooks] is packed with"?

driftglass said...

Neo Tuxedo,

Knock yourself out, although based on my experience don't expect much :-)