While everyone else was busy gaping at the sight of Hillary and The Great Orange Clusterfuck, David Brooks snuck out behind the bushes to poop out another deplorable chapter of his Great Project:
...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.
Today's Exciting Episode: Fake Conservatism, now. Fake Conservatism, tomorrow. Fake Conservatism, forever.
First, the Bad Guys, who are miraculously distributed evenly across both sides of the American political spectrum, but are completely absent from the Acela Corridor Quiet Car which whisks Mr. Brooks from one end of the bubble in which he lives to the other, and back again, in silent, sleek, 21st Century climate-controlled comfort:
Reactionaries, whether angry white Trumpians, European nationalists, radical Islamists or left-wing anti-globalists, are loud, self-confident and on the march...Soon, they believe, a false and decadent consciousness descended upon the land...
"Decadent" is one of Mr, Brooks' cuddle-words, like "on stilts" and "luxuriate" -- apparently the meanest things anyone at The Weekly Standard cool kid's table could ever think up. In Mr. Brooks' world, bad people are bad people, but really bad people are always decadently so. For example, some of you might remember way back when Mr. Brooks thought that merely standing athwart the Bush Administration's mad rush to send our kids off to die in the wrong war and saying "No" was the lowest kind of decadence (from The Weekly Standard, 2002 emphasis added):
For example, on September 19, a group of peaceniks took out a full-page ad in the New York Times opposing the campaign in Afghanistan and a possible campaign in Iraq. Signatories included all the usual suspects: Jane Fonda, Edward Said, Barbara Ehrenreich, Tom Hayden, Gore Vidal, Ed Asner, and on and on. ... The entire exercise is a picture perfect example of moral exhibitionism, by a group of people decadently refusing even to acknowledge the difficulties and tradeoffs that confront those who actually have to make decisions about policy.
Wow. I can definitely see why the New York Times snapped him up and handed him a job-for-life.
And speaking of the NYT, lets get back to the Bad Guys in Mr. Brooks' little fable...
“Reactionaries are not conservatives,” [Mark] Lilla continues. “They are, in their way, just as radical as revolutionaries...
Reactionaries are marked by a militant, apocalyptic mind-set, a crisis mentality. They are willing to take extreme, violent action to turn back the clock. In their narcissism, they think they alone understand the crisis and are in a position to reverse the trends.
The paranoid style of conspiracy-mongering has become the lingua franca of the internet...
God damn you, internet!!!
"Conspiracy" is another Brooks cuddle-word. Of course, conspiracy-mongering does exist and these days is the major export of Conservative America, but in this context, Mr. Brooks is trying to draw a sharp contrast between those who are in Mr. Brooks' Very Serious Beltway Persons club and those who are not. For example, thoughtful, well-reasoned opinions such as "The Iraqi War is over and we kicked ass!" and "Ignore that idiot Trump, because Marco Rubio will definitely be the Republican presidential nominee" are the province of Very Serious Beltway Persons such as Mr. David Brooks.
"Peaceniks" and other Liberal degenerates, on the other hand, know only from conspiracies. Dark and dire delusions, based on nothing but their own, oh, let's say "decadent" impulses. Like for example back when "peaceniks" and other Liberal degenerates were standing athwart the Bush Administration's various derangements and saying "No", Mr. Brooks was describing us like this:
Finally, there is the dream palace of the American Bush haters. In this dream palace, there is so much contempt for Bush that none is left over for Saddam or for tyranny. Whatever the question, the answer is that Bush and his cronies are evil. What to do about Iraq? Bush is evil. What to do about the economy? Bush is venal. What to do about North Korea? Bush is a hypocrite.In this dream palace, Bush, Cheney, and a junta of corporate oligarchs stole the presidential election, then declared war on Iraq to seize its oil and hand out the spoils to Halliburton and Bechtel. In this dream palace, the warmongering Likudniks in the administration sit around dreaming of conquests in Syria, Iran, and beyond. In this dream palace, the boy genius Karl Rove hatches schemes to use the Confederate flag issue to win more elections, John Ashcroft wages holy war on American liberties, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, and his cabal of neoconservatives long for global empire. In this dream palace, every story of Republican villainy is believed, and all the windows are shuttered with hate...
Except, as it turned out, Rove really was a monster.
And Conservatives bigots rallying to the Stars-n-Bars really is a thing.
And Haliburton really did loot the treasury.
And Dick Cheney really did get glut himself decadently on Iraq War blood money,
And Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, and that whole "cabal of neoconservatives" scumbags really did long for global hegemony.
Also opposition to Bush Administration policies was not "brainless and self-destructive" because -- surprise! -- those policies really did wipe out the Clinton surplus, run up a gargantuan deficit and put Social Security under the gun.
And so forth. And so on. And so forth.
But enough about the inconvenient past, because here comes the glorious future! And wouldn't you know it, all the Good Guys are Conservative!
The best weapon against the reactionary is not bubbly, blind optimism. It is, frankly, temperamental conservatism.
The conservative looks fondly to the past not as a paradise to return to but as a treasure trove of experience to borrow from...
The conservative seeks to revive, restore and reconstruct — to use the gifts of the dead to make the present a little sweeter and deeper...
Actually, Mr. Brooks, the "best weapon against the reactionary" is not one more dose of the toxic Imaginary Conservative patent medicine you have been peddling for decades.
The best weapon against the reactionary would be an honest accounting of our actual history.
The best weapon against the reactionary would be an honest reckoning of who was right, who was wrong, who was faithful to the nation, and who was a fraud who sold that nation out to advance his career.
In other words, the best weapon against the reactionary would be just the sort of blunt and honest performance evaluation which you could not possibly survive.