No sacred American institution has taken more of a beating from the Rise of Trump than the high and holy Both Siderist Church of Lyin'tology.
As future scholars of Beltway theology will note, by the turn of the 21st century, Both Siderism had been a toxin in the veins of American political reporting for decades. In a healthy democracy, the Mr. Yuk poison sign that Hunter Thompson nailed up on the occasion of the death of Richard Nixon would have been sufficient warning to future ink-stained wretches of the perils of trying to remain "Objective" in the face of an obvious monster:
Some people will say that words like scum and rotten are wrong for Objective Journalism -- which is true, but they miss the point. It was the built-in blind spots of the Objective rules and dogma that allowed Nixon to slither into the White House in the first place. He looked so good on paper that you could almost vote for him sight unseen. He seemed so all-American, so much like Horatio Alger, that he was able to slip through the cracks of Objective Journalism. You had to get Subjective to see Nixon clearly, and the shock of recognition was often painful.
Sadly we do not live in a healthy democracy, and despite the dire warnings of their betters, pundits around the Washington Beltway and up and down the Acela Corridor went right on making a comfortable living by performing the ritual sacrifice of journalism to the gods of False Equivalence.
Then came the collapse of the Bush Administration, and everything changed.
Future scholars of Beltway theology will point to the complete collapse of the Bush Administration as the precipitating catastrophe that turned Both Siderism from a prominent and prosperous denomination into the Official State Religion of the America's political media. And it's not that hard to figure out why.
After the collapse of the Bush Administration, America's political media was suddenly, wildly overstocked with Bush regime former speechwriters, cheerleaders, apologists and go-along-to-get-along capitulators and collaborates which cruel reality has stripped naked before the world with nary a narrative fig-leaf to protect them.
And while I am but a low and perverse driftglass living on the raggedy edge of our free and fair press, it has always been my understanding that Republicans and their capitulators and collaborates value nothing more highly than the ruthless efficiency of the free market. A system which noted neoconservative, crackpot "freedom scholar" and all-around pile of human offal, Michael Ledeen, describes as:
"Creative destruction is our middle name, both within our own society and abroad. We tear down the old order every day, from business to science, literature, art, architecture, and cinema to politics and the law."
Sure, it was superfuckingawesome to making a fine, fat living by mocking capitalism's losers and casualties as moochers and takers from the comfort of your Bethesda mansion...but what happens when the bubble bursts?
What happens when those legions of Bush Administration former speechwriters, cheerleaders, apologists and go-along-to-get-along capitulators and collaborates -- who have gotten every single fucking thing loudly and catastrophically wrong -- suddenly find themselves sliding down into the "creative destruction" of the free market's Sarlac Pit? What happens when you are the "old order" and the terrible hand of the free market arrives to tear down your cozy little sinecure?
The answer is obvious.
Since you and your cronies already dominate the media, you simply declare the Year Zero of a New Faith with a new Creed. A faith in which no atonement for the horrible shit you and your cronies did yesterday is required and no forgiveness is necessary because discussing the past is forbidden. A faith in which no Bush Administration former speechwriter, cheerleader, apologist or go-along-to-get-along capitulator or collaborate will ever be held specifically and individually responsible for anything, because Both Sides/All Sides/Society In General are always to blame for everything.
And upon this foundation, Mr. David Brooks of the New York Times and a few others built their Church of Lyin'tology and turned public proclamation of the Both Siderist creed into the official signifier of imperial legitimacy and identity.
Which bring us to Mr. David Brooks' column in the New York Times today.
As America's leading Brooksologist, I don't read a David Brooks column like a normal person because I already know what I'm looking for. Mr. Brooks is a maudlin and dishonest writer with a severely limited repertoire and only 800 words twice a week to push his shitty product, so it's easy for me to sweep through any given column and find the inevitable, Both Sideist "razor in the apple" because it's always there somewhere.
But today, in his desperation to keep his temple propped up and in the black, Mr. Brooks did something that took me by surprise.
First, after a couple of paragraphs praising Hillary Clinton's speaking style, in accordance with the Creed of Both Siderism. Mr. Brooks first radically widened his condemnation of Donald Trump to indict the entire country --
It’s becoming ever clearer that the nation’s moral capital is being decimated, and the urgent challenge is to name that decimation and reverse it.
-- and then radically narrowed the temporal scope of that condemnation to imply that Trump's demagogic awfulness is somehow a brand new thing under the sun, and not the predictable (and predicted) end-product of a depraved and deliberate strategy which has been cooking along inside Mr. Brooks' Republican party for the last 40 years:
This year Trump is dismantling those restraints one by one. By savagely attacking Carly Fiorina’s looks and Ted Cruz’s wife he dismantled the codes of etiquette that prevent politics from becoming an unmodulated screaming match.
So...Mr. Brooks has never heard of Newt Gingrich?
Listened to By lying more or less all the time, he dismantles the fealty to truth without which conversation is impossible.
So....Mr. Brooks has also never heard of Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter or Ralph Reed? Mary Matalin? Jerry Falwell, Junior or Senior? Laura Ingraham? Never caught a glimpse of something called "Fox News" while waiting for the mechanic to tally up the bill for his oil change? Never caught a whiff of Conservative Hate Radio on some vagrant summer breeze while whisking from one Aspen Institute panel to another?
By refusing to automatically respect the election results he corrodes confidence in our common institutions and risks turning public life into a never-ending dogfight.
And finally, Mr. Brooks has apparently never met Mr. Ken Starr, of Clinton-era $40M witch-hunting fame. Nor has Mr. Brooks ever met Senator John McCain, whose 2008 campaign accused ACORN:
...a community activist group that operates nationwide, of perpetrating "massive voter fraud." It says Obama has "long and deep" ties to the group.
Nor does Mr. Brooks read Brother Charles Pierce like all good little do-bees do:
Why Are You Surprised Trump Won't Respect the Results of the Election?Mr. Brooks is also apparently completely unfamiliar with the "The Caucus Room Conspiracy": an ongoing Republican plot to neutralize the legitimate election of Barack Obama by sabotage. Amazingly, he also appears to have never heard of the "Birther" movement: a parallel, racist Republican conspiracy to delegitimize the Obama Administration outright.
It's been the Republican way for 25 years.
In fact, one might get the impression that Mr. David Brooks of the New York Times doesn't really know shit about anything, but as America's leading Brooksologist I can assure you that this is all par for the course. Nothing unusual here -- just the the kind of standard-issue Brooksian claptrap that delights the handful of deluded plutocrat shut-ins who underwrite his career.
No, what really put me back on my heels was this (emphasis added):
Clinton has contributed to the degradation too. As the James O’Keefe videos remind us, wherever Hillary Clinton has gone in her career, a cloud of unsavory people and unsavory behavior has traveled alongside.
In his desperation to find some way to hang Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump with the same rope, today Mr. David Brooks of the New York Times used his column to mainstream James Fucking O'Keefe.
And that is a line which cannot be uncrossed.
The rest of it is more hollow mewling and hand-wringing about the moral decay of society and how the whole god damn country has personally let David Brooks down --
We are now in a country in which major presidential candidates can gibe about the menstrual cycles of their interviewers and the penis size of their opponents...We are now in a society in which the childish desires of a reality-TV narcissist can insult the inheritance that Washington and Hamilton risked their lives to bequeath...We are now in a society in which serial insults to basic decency aren’t automatically disqualifying...
-- from the man who just used his New York Times column to mainstream James Fucking O'Keefe.
I don't know whether to laugh at that kind of craven mendacity or cry.
I do know that I'll ask you to kick in to the tip jar during this fundraiser if you find the services I provide here of value. (If times are tight, don't sweat it. At all. Believe me, I know how that is :-)
Behold, a Tip Jar!