Tuesday, January 12, 2016

David Brooks Discovers The Republican Party

It has become clear that, in the back nine of his career, David Brooks would like to be regarded as a noble explorer; an intrepid revenant, if you will, who has returned alive from a grueling journey across the trackless wastes of history and faith in search of the secrets of the human soul.

And while that 'umble-pioneer-and-chronicler-of-the-human-experience schtick sells a lot of books, books a lot of high-dollar speaking gigs and, in the wrong hands, (he said, speculating irresponsibly) might well be used to navigate the trousers off of impressionable coeds, when the rubber meets the real world it all falls hilariously apart.

You see, Mr. Brooks is not the daring Robert Falcon Scott of human conscience and culture.  Instead, Mr. Brooks has spent his career as a junior vice president in a comfortable corner office of Conservatism Incorporated -- an outfit which has been single-mindedly focused on the defenestration of American culture and our capacity for self-governance through the promotion of hate, the perversion of faith and the annihilation of memory.  And while circumstances have forced Mr. Brooks to change his brand slightly (from relentless basher of Liberals and pimper of wars to the bland Pope of the Church of Both Siderism) he remains dog-loyal to the trait which binds all Conservatives together:  a deep and abiding dread of the past.

Which is why, for the last decade or so, Mr. Brooks has used his privileged position in the media to become the pre-eminent spinner of tales of a wonderful and wholly-fictional True Conservatism. Or, as one depraved peon once put it:
...it is now painfully clear that Mr. Brooks is engaged in a long-term project to completely rewrite the history of American Conservatism: to flense it of all of the Conservative social, political  economic and foreign policy debacles that make Mr. Brooks wince and repackage the whole era as a fairy tale of noble Whigs being led through treacherous hippie country by the humble David Brooks.
And the problem for Brooks the Intrepid Explorer of the Human Experience is that while he has spent the last decade in his office wanking himself blind to his own Whig fan fiction, in the office right next door, everyone else in the Conservative movement has been playing with fire, murdering truth and generally feeding every virtue which Mr. Brooks pretends to respect through the wood chipper toes first.

The racket from the Right destroying our country has been positively deafening, and many of us have been writing about it continuously since we were in blogger training wheels.   And yet, even as his colleagues on the Right were gleefully clubbing Lady Liberty to her knees with gun butts and Bibles  right next door, Mr. David Brooks -- fearless voyager into the depths of the human soul -- would have you believe that he could not hear a single fucking peep of it.  From  Mr. Brooks just three years ago:
Gail: The Republicans have certainly been getting a lot of bad press lately. Tell me, do you agree with Colin Powell that there’s a “dark vein of intolerance” in the party now?

David: Not really. I’ll let you in on a little secret. I go to a lot of all-Republican gatherings and a lot of all-Democratic gatherings. I hear more intolerance from the all-Democrats. They are more contemptuous of people unlike them. Or, to be more precise, they are more uncomprehending about the fact that somebody could actually disagree with them.
And then came Trump.  And Cruz.  Each in his own way a perfect distillation of the warped values and depraved indifference to reality which the Conservatives movement has spent so much time and money breeding into the Republican base.  Each in his own way an unrebuttable proof that what Liberals have been saying about the Right for decades has been nothing but the unvarnished truth.  And each in his own way an ambulatory concatenation of every trait which Mr. Brooks has sworn over and over and over again simply did not exist within his Conservative movement.

And now? (from the NYT today):
Ted Cruz is now running strongly among evangelical voters, especially in Iowa. But in his career and public presentation Cruz is a stranger to most of what would generally be considered the Christian virtues: humility, mercy, compassion and grace. Cruz’s behavior in the Haley case is almost the dictionary definition of pharisaism: an overzealous application of the letter of the law in a way that violates the spirit of the law, as well as fairness and mercy.

Traditionally, candidates who have attracted strong evangelical support have in part emphasized the need to lend a helping hand to the economically stressed and the least fortunate among us...
Honest to God, I'm not kidding.  The man whose Movement was transformed from kitchen-table musings into an electoral behemoth by the relentless application of Jebus-inflected rage, bigotry and paranoia by Lee Atwater, Karl Rove, Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwall, Phyllis Schlafly, Francis and Edith Schaeffer, and on and on and on and on really wrote that.

Then he really wrote this:
The best conservatism balances support for free markets with a Judeo-Christian spirit of charity, compassion and solidarity. Cruz replaces this spirit with Spartan belligerence. He sows bitterness, influences his followers to lose all sense of proportion and teaches them to answer hate with hate. This Trump-Cruz conservatism looks more like tribal, blood and soil European conservatism than the pluralistic American kind.

Evangelicals and other conservatives have had their best influence on American politics when they have proceeded in a spirit of personalism — when they have answered hostility with service and emphasized the infinite dignity of each person. They have won elections as happy and hopeful warriors. Ted Cruz’s brutal, fear-driven, apocalypse-based approach is the antithesis of that.
For those of you with memories as short and radically selective as Mr. Brooks, listen now as two of Evangelical Conservatism's most famous and powerful "happy and hopeful warriors" discuss "the infinite dignity of each person".

Sometimes David Brooks writes something so completely out of touch with reality that the reader’s heart breaks at the pathos of it all, like you’re watching a baby duck with a broken wing trying to fly. Then you remember that he’s paid handsomely by The New York Times and given one of the largest platforms in the country to spout of his ill-informed opinions, and it’s right back to be angry again.

So it is with Brooks’ latest column, titled “The Brutalism of Ted Cruz,” a piece that so hilariously misunderstands the motives of Christian conservatives that it leads one to wonder if Brooks has ever, in all his travels, met a single member of this tribe that his beloved Republican Party relies on for votes.
It is true that David Brooks will continue to spin his ridiculous bullshit, that he will continue to do so from the position of unassailable privilege which a handful of very rich people have bestowed upon him, and that his colleagues will continue to conspicuously refused to call him out over any of it.

But it is also true that people of good conscience should say "No" to the liars and the lies they spin whenever and wherever they can.  Even if you're ridiculously outnumbered.  Especially if you're ridiculously outnumbered.

(For extra bonus fun, please note that Mr. Brooks accuses Failgunner Ted of "pharisaism" which Mr. Brooks defines as "an overzealous application of the letter of the law in a way that violates the spirit of the law" but which the good people at Merriam-Webster also define as "hypocritical censorious self-righteousness".  So, yes, America's Most Self-Righteous Conservative Hypocrite really did just take to the pages of the New York Times to lecture someone else on the articles of Christian faith and to name them and shame them as a self-righteous hypocrite.)


bowtiejack said...

Beautiful writing. Just beautiful. Thank you.

And my definition of good writing is when the nouns and verbs dance gracefully together and express actual thoughts and ideas rather than "positions".
It is true that it's "positions" (and specifically heavily-subsidized RWNJ positions) that seem to be selling these days (or I should say "are being sold"). And the Third Reich lasted how long? Be of stout heart. Change may be tiptoeing up to the door.

Jerkface McGee said...

For my money, this was the most interesting part of the column:

Cruz manufactures an atmosphere of menace in which there is no room for compassion, for moderation, for anything but dismantling and counterattack. And that is what he offers. Cruz’s programmatic agenda, to the extent that it exists in his speeches, is to destroy things: destroy the I.R.S., crush the “jackals” of the E.P.A., end funding for Planned Parenthood, reverse Obama’s executive orders, make the desert glow in Syria, destroy the Iran nuclear accord.

Some of these positions I agree with....

Which of those positions do you agree with, Mr Brooks? You identified a list of policy positions and said you agree with "some" of them, which suggests more than one. EPA and Syria? Planned Parenthood and Iran?

Neo Tuxedo said...

Traditionally, candidates who have attracted strong evangelical support have in part emphasized the need to lend a helping hand to the economically stressed and the least fortunate among us.

Amanda Marcotte, in the article you so graciously linked, gives us the punchline to that accidental joke, in the form of Our Mr. Brooks' very next sentence:

Such candidates include George W. Bush, Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum.

And then she proceeds to (as some vituperative foul-mouthed blogtopian once put it) saw his ass off and serve it up on the fine china:

After you’re done wiping the tears of laughter, from your eyes, just go back and savor those sentences. Is David Brooks for real? Or has his entire career up until now been an Andy Kaufman-esque put-on, a dry satire highlighting the absurdity of condescending Beltway conservative romanticization of their Bible-thumping brethren? Can anyone actually believe that these three men share a single bone of actual human compassion between them?

If I could dwell where Israfel hath dwelt, I would engrave her concluding paragraphs someplace where every codder and shiggy and sparewheel in This Great Land of Ours, and any appleofmyeye old enough to know what the thing is for, could see it, and have it follow them around until they understood it and did something about it:

Cruz doesn’t represent a shift in Christian right thinking. He just represents a shift in Christian right self-presentation. As with Trump supporters, conservatives of all stripes just seem to be done with pretending they are nicer than they are. They’re sick of pretending they have compassion. They’re exhausted with having to front like they’re less bigoted than they actually are. All that pretending to care is just “political correctness”, and the right is done with it all. They’re stripping off the costumes and the masks and letting their true selves hang out for all to see.

And that true self is one that wants a man to go to prison for 16 years for stealing a calculator. And that’s why Ted Cruz’s star is rising right alongside Donald Trump’s.

Sandman said...

I love these days when you and the Rude Pundit converge upon the same atrocity from the right...


Redhand said...

Great writing Driftglass.

Perhaps the most absurd and outrageous statement in the whole DFB piece was his comment about how the religious right possesses qualities of "humility, mercy, compassion and grace," when the polar opposite has been evident for decades.

This column should be another colossal embarrassment to the NYT, but I'm long past the point of attributing any analytical ability or even sentience to their management.

Unknown said...

That woodchipper image is gonna stick.

Unknown said...

"....he remains dog-loyal to the trait which binds all Conservatives together: a deep and abiding dread of the past."

Only if you define the past as post-Rosa Parks. Otherwise, they have been and still are terrified of the future, a demographic future in which their latent, implicit (and often explicit) racism and classism is toast.
Hell, I'm terrified of the future, but for different reasons. Global climate change, ever encroaching corporatism, extreme income equality, a whole lot of things. Brooks and his ilk feel the dread on the opposite end of the kaleidoscope - they're afraid the poors and the browns will come after their big monies and ask - perhaps even demand - their fair share.
He's a hack, and worse, he's a disloyal hack. When he starts in after his own - like Cruz - you' know he's having another panic attack. Just wait a week because of course as Blue Gal famously said, ignore what he wrote last week, it's no longer in his firmanent.

And on our part, why the hippies never learned to punch back, and farking HARD at that, is beyond me.

Robt said...

Just curios,
Where does the other well paid mouth pieces (ahem-writers) like Jonah Goldberg,Cal Thomas,
Thomas Sowell,Peggy Noonan Et Al rate in the on the Brooks scale of blather.
Do you have a rating scale of assorted Books-tarians? Are they in categories as White House speech spinners, the Frank Lutz blitzkrieg,, Does Tom Friedman have a category all to himself?
What about those Presidential SOTU republican response writers?
Just wondered if you did or were to categorize them, what it would look like?