Friday, September 30, 2016

David Brooks: Less Than Zero

These days, literally everything about life as a human in the world seems to pain Mr. David Brooks of the New York Times.

Well, maybe not the affections of young and stupefied admirers, but just about everything else on this planet of Earth keeps him in a constant state of low-grade simpering agony, as if he were perpetually trying to pass a kidney stone the size of Edmund Burke's snuff box.

Fortunately. as William Makepeace Thackeray once observed, "Despair is perfectly compatible with a good dinner, I promise you" and, as it happily turns out, affecting a pose of constant, snippy disappointment with every social and political institution in American is perfectly comparable with Mr. David Brooks' Great Project: amassing great big piles of wealth and influence by radically rewriting the history of American Conservatism to remove all the icky bits.  

Like, for example, today.

With his Great Project (of pretending that the last 40 years of Conservatism never happened) gravely endangered by the clear and self-evident fact that a blathering, racist fire-demon is now in charge of his Republican Party,  Mr. Brooks has had to temporarily set aside his pastoral duties as Pope Bias the First, Bishop of the Acela Corridor (aka, Vicar of Both Sides, Successor of the Prince of the Kristols, Supreme Pontiff of the Washington Beltway, Primate of Fake Centrism, Archbishop and Metropolitan of Humility, Sovereign of True Conservatism's City State and Servant of the servants of the Church of Lyin'tology) and get back to the serious, secular sludge-work of Both Sidering the shit out of this election,

And what is a more perfectly Brooksian way to do that than peevishly bitching about how horribly each candidate has failed to live up to what Mr. Brooks contends were the twin apexes of American Hopefulness in the 20th Century:  the 1960's of the dirty hippies remembered for Kennedy, NASA, Civil Rights and the Great Society, and the 1980's, an era of  Iran-Contra, Gordon Gekko, the Saving-and-Loan Debacle and Mr. Brooks having all his hair, getting laid for the first time on a regular basis and discovering a tribe of fellow, pecksniffing Young Conservative Fogies to call home.

And so, in Mr. Brooks' ongoing fairy tale of the imaginary past which never was, invariably the fault for all bad thing that have happened in the last 30 years must be equally divided between the 1960s and the 1980s:
The twin revolutions of the 1960s and the 1980s liberated the individual — first socially and then economically — and weakened the community. More surprising, this boomer-versus-boomer campaign has decimated idealism...
The dogma of Mr, Brooks' Both Siderism simply will not allow the real problem with this election to be what it obviously is -- the terrifying manifestation of the longstanding Republican media/electoral strategy of stocking the Party to the rafters with bigots an imbeciles and keeping those bigots and imbeciles whipped into a perpetual state mindless rage and paranoia.  The dogma of Mr, Brooks' Both Siderism simply cannot tolerate a version of history in which his Republican Party has suffered a complete, collective psychotic break with reality due to 30 years of relentless wingnut pandering and propaganda in which he so enthusiastically participated.

And so, in Mr. Brooks' radically whitewashed version of history, the only acceptable explanation for what has gone so drastically wrong with this election is that the Two Last Defenders of our Two Camelots -- the 1960s and the 1980s -- must have both equally let us all down.

So terribly, terribly down.

Obviously the myriad personality disorders of the GOP's blathering, racist fire-demon are on public display every day and around the clock, so Mr. Brooks doesn't have to break much trail to jot down a few highlights:
As we saw on Monday night, Trump now represents capitalism degraded to pure selfishness. He treats other people like objects and lies with abandon. Proud to be paying no taxes while others foot the bill, proud to have profited off the housing bust that caused so much suffering, he lacks even the barest conception of civic life and his responsibilities to it.
But in order to complete the ritual Both Siderist incantation, Mr. Brooks must invent a reason to indict Hillary Clinton as roughly equally unfit -- either a monster-in-disguise or a tragically failed, spent force. Which is a helluva lift given that she really has devoted her entire life to public service, especially on behalf of women and children.

Which is why ultimately Mr, Brooks had to go with the Admiral Motti gambit:  Don't try to impress us with your hippie ways, Madam Secretary. Your sad devotion to that ancient religion has not helped you conjure up the Grand Bargain of my dreams, or given you clairvoyance enough to appeal to Imaginary Independents.

From Mr. Brooks:
...Clinton can be a devastatingly good counterpuncher, but she lacks the human touch when talking about the nation’s problems, and fails to make an emotional connection.

When asked why she wants to be president or for any positive vision, she devolves into a list of programs. And it is never enough just to list three programs in an answer; she has to pile in an arid hodgepodge of eight or nine. This is pure interest-group liberalism — buying votes with federal money — not an inspiring image of the common good.
So with that, the ritual incantation can be completed:
There is no uplift in this race. There is an entire absence, in both campaigns, of any effort to appeal to the higher angels of our nature. There is an assumption, in both campaigns, that we are self-seeking creatures, rather than also loving, serving, hoping, dreaming, cooperating creatures. There is a presumption in both candidates that the lowest motivations are the most real.
And Mr. Brooks can disappear up his own ass in cloud of pseudo-intellectual, pseudo-metaphysical argle-bargle:
At some point there will have to be a new vocabulary and a restored anthropology, emphasizing love, friendship, faithfulness, solidarity and neighborliness that pushes people toward connection rather than distrust.
There is no more glib and successful fraud working the high end of the wingnut welfare scam that Mr. David Brooks of the New York Times.

And all it has cost him is his soul.


Rehctaw said...

Almost perfect Abbey Road P-chop. Put them in straight-jackets!

DFB's position as an usher, shusher and tsk-tsker in Opposite World stands as a potential roadmap back to sanity. Granted, after 30 years, we've been dragged a million miles off course...thankfully, the world's round...

dinthebeast said...

The way I remember it, idealism's hard days began in the seventies. Maybe he should read Hunter S Thompson some time.
Also, Driftglass, what happened to your blogroll?

-Doug in Oakland

Grayson Mendenhall said...

David Brooks' definition of 'neighborliness': Yelling "Get off my lawn!" through an arrow slit in the 15 ft stone wall surrounding his stately home...

Sharon Dymond said...

Every time you run into a pay wall trying to follow a link to the New York Times or the Washington Post, send your money instead to driftglass.

engulfedinflames said...

I must commend you for the Edmund Burke reference.

Barely through my first cup of coffee and sitting slack jawed in amazement.

Davis Statton said...

Yes, Mr. Brooks, I want to know what Clinton will actually do as president. That seems important, doesn't it? By the way, virtually none of her proposals will benefit me directly, so enough of that bullshit about buying my vote with federal dollars.

bowtiejack said...

Brilliant. Some of your best work.
In a just world ( - pause for audience laughter - ) you would get the recognition you so richly deserve.

Redhand said...

The key to understanding DFB is recognizing that every column he writes is dedicated to the proposition that the federal government should do fuckall nothing to cure any and all societal and economic problems, because it would (gasp!) have to spend taxpayer money if it tried. Instead, DFB regularly plays with himself imagining a "Peaceable Kingdom" in which the lion lies down with the lamb, because we can create a society in which people are collectively "loving, serving, hoping, dreaming, cooperating creatures."

The insult to injury part of his ridiculous paradigm is the notion that the Repubs are somehow equal or better than the Dems in this, or should be, but for Trump's "capitalism degraded to pure selfishness." And in this, of course, he is totally full of shit, as always, because capitalism never looks beyond selfishness as an economic philosophy, and it is the unleavened philosophy of choice of the GOP.

Basically, Brooks objects to Hillary's programs because he would rather deflect the idea of any government money being spent in favor of waiting forever for some "new vocabulary and a restored anthropology, emphasizing love, friendship, faithfulness, solidarity and neighborliness that pushes people toward connection."

He knows better, but this is such a polite way to tell the poors and those desperately needing governmental help to go fuck themselves. I mean, who could complain that DFB isn't a true humanitarian, you know, the real deal?

Kevin Holsinger said...

Good evening, Mr. Glass.

I see the Borg King is whining about the over-abundance of individualism again. "I am...Both...of Sides."

Be seeing you.

RUKidding said...

The both sides whine in this one is particularly grating. Clearly Bobo's got his marching orders from on high to find some way, any way, to diss Clinton and compare her negatively against Trump. What a load of crap.

"At some point there will have to be a new vocabulary and a restored anthropology, emphasizing love, friendship, faithfulness, solidarity and neighborliness that pushes people toward connection rather than distrust."

Oh I see. The demos need a new anthrophology ! Wow, how insightful THAT is. WTF does it mean? I imported "demos" from George Will's bullshit just because I felt like it. Did these 2 noobs have a sherry together or something, sipping their drinkies with their little pinkies lifted high, before retiring to their respective studies in order to cogitate and churn out these lovely pearls that they toss before the swine?

Bobo has done nothing but suck up to the .001% and engage himself in ye olde game of divide and conquer - pitting the rabble against one another via his Both Siderist bullshit and hype. So, it sounds like DFB needs to engage in a bit of mirror-looking should he come back to read his hoity toity elevated "prose."

Jimbo said...

The easiest job, the laziest job in the print media world is to be an Op/Ed writer defending the right-wing Establishment as our Bobo has done for many years. He knows that the "Establishment" is the Potemkin Village presenting an "acceptable" facade for the army of racist orcs and the billionaire Sarumans that work behind the Establishment. Unfortunately, the national GOP Establishment is now utterly in tatters with the ridiculous Reince Priebus running around frantically cleaning up the huge piles of poop. So Bobo has now decided to go "poetic" and "idealistic" - this from the guy who used to write for the National Review, the journal of white supremacy (h/t Pierce).

Jim from MN said...

Assholes like Brooks have as their solitary, pathologically unswerving mission to drag as many people as they can into Trump's Republican-made shit pile--failing that--repulsing them by it's unsavory stink. Anyone who answers "Clinton" as their response to Trump's madness has hopelessly lost their argument.

Ed Cooper said...

Great idea, Sharon I wish I had thought of it sooner.