Friday, February 24, 2017

Breaking The Beltway Iron Rule of David Brooks

Few in the media dare to do it because of the career carnage that would ensue.  

I, on the other hand, have strategically spent the last 12 years making myself completely unemployable to every respectable news and opinion outfit in America.

So ha ha!  And onward!

For a very long time, Mr. David Brooks of The New York Times has had a very simple job: extruding hundreds of thousands of "words" to prop up his ongoing fairy tale about a wholly Imaginary Republican Party full of wholly imaginary people who just so happened to believe exactly the same claptrap that Mr. David Brooks of The New York Times believes.

And then, just as happened to the fairy tale about the Exceedingly Awesome Military and Economic Genius of George W. Bush which had maintained Mr. David Brooks of The New York Times in great material comfort back when he was Mr. David Brooks of The Weekly Standard, the actual actions of the actual Republican Party screwed up his scam and forced him to scramble around to find new things to lie about.

Which bring us to today, in which Mr. David Brooks of The New York Times seems to be trying to recast himself as a the Lord Carnarvon of the PBS Green Room.  Trying heroically to excavate a few unpleasant "facts" about the Party of Trump from beneath the mountain of bullshit under which they are buried...

...while very carefully avoiding any mention of the fact that he himself was the creator of that mountain of bullshit.

And I'm sure he'll get away with it for the same reason Mr. David Brooks always gets away with it: because his colleagues are all also so deeply complicit it America's unfolding political disaster -- so sunk to their chinny-chin-chins in the same mountain of bullshit from which Mr. Brooks is quietly trying to extricate himself -- that they don't dare say a fucking word.

Which is why I am here.

So for today's small but instructive lesson in how The Beltway Iron Rule of David Brooks operates, let us open our browsers to Mr. Brooks' column today, "The National Death Wish". which I shall sprinkle liberally with Liberal emphases to draw your restless eye:
A few weeks ago, Tom Cotton and David Perdue, Republican senators from Arkansas and Georgia, introduced an immigration bill that would cut the number of legal immigrants to this country each year in half, from about a million to about 500,000.

In a press conference, Cotton offered a rationale for his bill. “There’s no denying this generation-long surge in low-skilled immigration has hurt blue-collar wages,” he said. If we can reduce the number of low-skill immigrants coming into the country, that will reduce the pool of labor, put upward pressure on wages and bring more Americans back into the labor force.

It seems like a plausible argument. That is, until you actually get out in the real world.

Cotton and Perdue’s position, which is now the mainstream Republican position, is based on the unconscious supposition that American society is like a lake, with a relatively fixed boundary. If you cut the supply of fish coming from outside, there will be more food for the ones born here...
Therein follows with worse mangling of the plot of Hemingway's "Big Two-Hearted River" that I have ever read.  But the upshot is clear:  Senators Cotton and Perdue have their heads up their asses and are behaving like morons and in the end we'll all pay for their cupidity:
...If the Cotton-Perdue bill became law, the working-age population would shrink, the nation would age and America would decline. 
For the life of me, I can’t figure out why so many Republicans prefer a dying white America to a place like, say, Houston.
Then comes the gratuitous, obligatory, drive-by shot at Liberals because...Liberals.
Cotton and Perdue are the second coming of those static mind-set/slow-growth/zero-sum liberals one used to meet in the 1970s. They’ll dry up the river. I wish they had a little more faith in freedom, dynamism and human ingenuity.
Not to be a pedant, but since Mr, Brooks was born in 1961, that would mean that he was between the ages of 9 and 18 during "the 1970s", and I cannot imagine that he ran into that many "static mind-set/slow-growth/zero-sum liberals" while being relieved of his lunch money and dodging swirlies in the halls of dear old Radnor High School.

So what the fuck, David?

Ditto "the 1980s" much which Mr. Brooks appears to have spent trying to get laid by calling himself a "Social Democrat" and who was mostly known for getting kicked around by Milton Friedman on videotape.

But leaving that bit of crass resume-burnishing aside, let us focus on the villains of Mr. Brooks' parable today. Senators Cotton and Perdue.  Bad hombres indeed.

And if you are wondering why oh why these names sound so familiar, well now is the moment when we break the Beltway Iron Rule of David Brooks and plunge boldly into The Very Recent Past.  To just a little over two years ago, when Mr.. David Brooks sounded the Republican All Clear.   Olly olly oxen free, everybody.  The dysfunctional nutjob Age of Palin passed!

And who was going to be the heroes of this new and noble Age of True Conservatism?

Those very same bad hombres.
The big Republican accomplishment is that they have detoxified their brand. Four years ago they seemed scary and extreme to a lot of people. They no longer seem that way. The wins in purple states like North Carolina, Iowa and Colorado are clear indications that the party can at least gain a hearing among swing voters. And if the G.O.P. presents a reasonable candidate (and this year’s crop was very good), then Republicans can win anywhere. I think we’ve left the Sarah Palin phase and entered the Tom Cotton phase. 
--  David Brooks, November 5, 2014.
The Governing Party

Every party in opposition goes a little crazy. For Republicans in the early Obama era, insanity took the form of the Sarah Palin spasm. Veteran politicos took the former Alaska governor seriously as a national figure. Republican primary voters nominated the likes of Todd Akin, Christine O’Donnell and Sharron Angle. Glenn Beck seemed important enough to hold a big rally at the Lincoln Memorial.

Fortunately, serious parties eventually pull back from the fever swamps. That’s what’s happening to the Republican Party. It has re-established itself as the nation’s dominant governing party.

Republicans didn’t establish this dominant position because they are unrepresentative outsiders. They did it because they have deep roots in four of the dominant institutions of American society: the business community, the military, the church and civic organizations.

Look at the Republicans who were elected to office on Tuesday...

David Perdue, who was elected senator in Georgia, was senior vice president for Asian operations for the Sara Lee Corporation. He moved to Haggar Clothing before becoming C.E.O., successively, of Reebok, Pillowtex and Dollar General.
Tom Cotton, elected senator in Arkansas, graduated from Harvard before working at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, serving in the Army and going off to McKinsey.

Republicans won this election in part because they re-established their party’s traditional personality. The beau ideal of American Republicanism is the prudent business leader who is active in the community, active at church and fervently devoted to national defense.

The new Republican establishment is different from the old one. It is more conservative. It’s shaped more by the ideas of The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page and the American Enterprise Institute than it is by the mores of the country club. But, at least judging by the postelection comments coming from all corners, it does believe in politics, in legislating, in compromise.

-- David Brooks, November 5, 2014.

Conclusion:  Mr. David Brooks of The New York Times knows fuck-all about the American political system as it actually operates in the real world.

On another, related note, it is always heartening to see actual national paying media outfits (from The Nation yesterday):
It’s Time for David Brooks to Reckon With David Brooks
The New York Times columnist once worshipped at the altar of American “greatness,” too.

 In a March 1997 piece for The Weekly Standard, his then-employer, he summarized his credo. Entitled “A Return to National Greatness,” the essay opened with a glowing tribute to the Library of Congress and, in particular,

 This February, 20 years later, in a column with an identical title, but this time appearing in the pages of his present employer, The New York Times, Brooks revisited this theme.

-- slowly catching up with a dirty hippie writing on an ancient laptop from his little home in the middle of Middle America (from me three weeks ago):

David Brooks, The Swimmer

Well, The Swimmer has finally done it.  Finally made it all the way home.

Here is David Brooks 20 years ago, from March of 1997.Back when he was one of Bill Kristol's Neocon henchmen at The Weekly Standard:
A Manifesto for a Lost Creed
MAR 03, 1997 | By DAVID BROOKS

And here is Mr, David Brooks in The New York Times todayFebruary 3, 2017, lying in a heap in front of his abandoned home, 20 years older and none the wiser.
A Return to National Greatness
David Brooks FEB. 3, 2017
Yep.  Same column.


Although it remains a mystery to me why none of them -- not one -- will just hire me to write this stuff in the first place.


OBS said...

I'm just gonna repost what I commented over at Yastreblansky's place earlier, 'cause fuck it:

I'm surprised at all the pushback we're seeing from traditional conservatives having their calm, center-right, pro-good-but-small-goverment party hijacked by a bunch of radical "economic (read "white") nationalists" right in front of them at TPAC.

Oh, wait, no I'm not, because there isn't any pushback. This is just the same assholes molting out of their Reagan-era camouflaged larval stage into their final hideous Trumpbannion form. I can't wait to happily ignore what D. Fucking Brooks has to say about it all.

dinthebeast said...

"Republicans won this election in part because they re-established their party’s traditional personality."

That woulda been fine if he followed it with something resembling reality, like, say, "Manufacturing, lying to, and fleecing the rubes for their money and their votes."

But no. He's got this here big ol' turd, and he ain't gonna waste it...

-Doug in Oakland

Jimbo said...

Wow that 30 year old Brooks video was really interesting. Brooksie had a lot of hair back then and I would have pitched him then as a moderate Republican (not at all a Social Democrat, of course). But my takeaway was just what a total a**hole Milton Friedman was. He may have dominated intellectually the monetarist school of macroeconomics but his political views of the role of the federal government were at best Tea Party like - he was fundamentally ignorant of real life.

Andrew Johnston said...

Goddamn, that The Nation piece.

David Brooks of The New York Times is a gifted columnist. Among contemporary journalists, he is our Walter Lippmann, the closest thing we have to an establishment-approved public intellectual. As was the case with Lippmann, Brooks works hard to suppress the temptation to rant. He shuns raw partisanship. In his frequent radio and television appearances, he speaks in measured tones. Dry humor and ironic references abound. And like Lippmann, when circumstances change, he makes at least a show of adjusting his views accordingly.

It's a fine example of the inviolable kabuki ritual of the Beltway: Anyone offering even mild criticism of someone like Brooks has to burn at least a hundred words detailing how great he is, with perhaps a little self-deprecating joke thrown in ("Apart from being a police officer, firefighter, or soldier engaged in one of this nation’s endless wars, writing a column for a major American newspaper has got to be one of the toughest and most unforgiving jobs there is," blarr-harr). I long for the day when, if a pundit is acting like an asshole, other pundits get to call him an asshole and the only question is which side is the bigger asshole.

bluicebank said...

While today I celebrated the free press, specifically subscribing to the NYT even though it's easy to get past that pathetic firewall), because Trump had them et all banished from covering Spicer's bullshit, your latest post underscores an incongruity.

David Brooks has stated that he doesn't read criticism of him, because feelings. Trump is, administratively, doing the same thing. Brooks, like Trump, insulates himself from any serious self-examination. In Brooks case, he is emotionally introspective, though not professionally. Trump is introspective, but only in the mirror-looking Narsis sense.

And yet, DFB is unhappy with Donnie. Or is it jealousy? I, for one, want a revival of Greek Tragedy. Because we have a lot better material today than in the Bronze Age.

Mark Menge said...

I wrote the following a while back in response to one of Brooks' more egregious servings of bullshit:

"Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa! Gee David, I feel for you, I really do! It must be so terribly painful to finally realize and publicly acknowledge what so many of us have known for years-that you are a tin-eared, clueless, entitled hack. You really believed, as you attended all those clubby, collegial cocktail parties with Republican pols, insiders and fellow "journalists", that you had your finger on the pulse of the nation. Swilling down white wine and devouring canapes with the likes of Reince Priebus and Bill Kristol was an evening of tough, hard-nosed reporting in your mind. You saw the way Reince squirmed under the lash of your merciless grilling-like when you pointedly asked him to please pass you the cheese plate-and you were content. All was right in your world.
How shocking it must be for you then, to realize that there are actually people out there who are not happy with their lot in life! Who scramble to make ends meet, who have been treated with utter contempt for years by the Republicans who claim to represent them. You can only piss on people for so long before they realize it isn't raining David. And you pissed on those people just like all of your Rethug pals did. In fact, you barely even realized that they existed-that there were millions of discontented, miserable, resentful people out there who really believed the bullshit they were being fed in order to cynically stoke, and then exploit, their toxic resentments and fears and get them to the polls every couple of years.
So now they have decided that they want someone who says he will actually do something about the issues you and your cocktail party circuit pals told them were the cause of all their woes. Illegal immigrants! Damn Chinese stealing their jobs! N*****rs! You created an environment that could hardly be more conducive to the rise of a Donald Trump, and now you can't understand what happened? You think you will have to "change the way I do my job if I'm going to report accurately on this country"?
What a goddamn joke you are. You couldn't report accurately on the tide coming in if you were staked to a beach at the low tide mark with a fully charged laptop and a four bar WiFi connection. Fucking dimwit..."