Tuesday, June 20, 2017

David Brooks Breaks The Beltway Iron Rule Of David Brooks: Updated


It is mandatory to quote what David Brooks wrote this week.
It is forbidden to quote what David Brooks wrote last week.
--  Blue Gal

For reasons that he will never be compelled to reveal under oath, Mr. David Brooks of The New York Times has suddenly become so anxious to downplay the Trump/Russia investigation as a big 'ol nothingburger ("Let’s Not Get Carried Away") that everyone should ignore-- an investigation which is barely a month old and has not yet fully staffed up -- that he is willing to violate one of the Beltway's most sacred codes of conduct.

Willing to venture into the Forbidden Zone of his own past and break The Beltway Iron Rule Of David Brooks (emphasis added):
I was the op-ed editor at The Wall Street Journal at the peak of the Whitewater scandal. We ran a series of investigative pieces “raising serious questions” (as we say in the scandal business) about the nefarious things the Clintons were thought to have done back in Arkansas.

Now I confess I couldn’t follow all the actual allegations made in those essays. They were six jungles deep in the weeds. But I do remember the intense atmosphere that the scandal created...
Wow.

For you newer readers, here is an important bit of history.  Mr. Brooks never acknowledges his own previous writings, and his reaction when people bring his own words up to him in ways that are less than, say, a Meet the Press paean to his inerrant wisdom is distinctly vinegary --

David Brooks: Boo-Boos in Paradise

Wayne-bred David Brooks is the public intellectual of the moment. But our writer found out he doesn’t check his facts.

...
I called Brooks to see if I was misreading his work. I told him about my trip to Franklin County, and the ease with which I was able to spend $20 on a meal. He laughed. “I didn’t see it when I was there, but it’s true, you can get a nice meal at the Mercersburg Inn,” he said. I said it was just as easy at Red Lobster. “That was partially to make a point that if Red Lobster is your upper end … ” he replied, his voice trailing away. “That was partially tongue-in-cheek, but I did have several mini-dinners there, and I never topped $20.”

I went through some of the other instances where he made declarations that appeared insupportable. He accused me of being “too pedantic,” of “taking all of this too literally,” of “taking a joke and distorting it.” “That’s totally unethical,” he said.

...
I asked him about Blue America as a bastion of illegal immigrants. “This is dishonest research. You’re not approaching the piece in the spirit of an honest reporter,” he said. “Is this how you’re going to start your career? I mean, really, doing this sort of piece? I used to do ’em, I know ’em, how one starts, but it’s just something you’ll mature beyond.”...
Mr. Brooks also studiously avoids any venue where a stray member of the public might sneak in an dquote his own bullshit back to him because, well, this...



So, now that this rare celestial event has occurred and Mr. Brooks has opened the door (as we say in the prosecution business) to hauling his past into the present, let's see where that leads us.

First, because he really, really needs you to believe that the Trump/Russia investigation is a big 'ol nothingburger that everyone should ignore. David Brooks does the most David Brooks thing of all: brutally amputate huge, inconvenient swaths of the past so that it can be reverse-engineered into his topic sentence.  Thus the entire history of investigations into abuses of power by the executive branch is reduced to two and only two events:  Whitewater and Trump/Russia.
In retrospect Whitewater seems overblown. And yet it has to be confessed that, at least so far, the Whitewater scandal was far more substantive than the Russia-collusion scandal now gripping Washington.
And all political scandals "at least since Watergate" are reduced to nothing but partisan witch-hunts which Both Sides deploy for no higher purpose than scoring political points.
In the politics of scandal, at least since Watergate, you don’t have to engage in persuasion or even talk about issues. Political victories are won when you destroy your political opponents by catching them in some wrongdoing. You get seduced by the delightful possibility that your opponent will be eliminated. Politics is simply about moral superiority and personal destruction.
So buh-by Iran/Contra!

So long, 9/11 Commission!

See ya later, Nancy "Impeachment is off the table" Pelosi.

And with actual history either maimed beyond recognition or wiped completely away, Mr. Brooks can now safely ignore the Trump/Russia investigation as  a big 'ol nothingburger because all such investigations conducted by either party will always invariably breach the levees of civility and become a swamp of star chambers and political vendetta in which unspecified groups of "people" profit electorally and commercially from the mongering of made-up scandals.
The politics of scandal is delightful for cable news...

The politics is great for those forces responsible for the lawyerization of American life...

The politics of scandal drives a wedge through society. Political elites get swept up in the scandals. Most voters don’t really care...

The people who hype the politics of scandal don’t make American government purer. They deserve some of the blame for an administration and government too distracted to do its job, for a political culture that is both shallower and nastier, and for fostering a process that looks like an elite game of entrapment...
Mr. Brooks will not elaborate on which specific"scandals" (Benghaaazi, Emails, IRS "targeting" the Tea Party, Benghaaazi, Benghaaazi, Benghaaazi) or what "people" (the entire leadership of his Republican party) he could possibly be talking about, because;
  1. It is a violation of every dogma of his High and Holy Church of Both Siderism to ever specifically blame Republicans for crimes against democracy committed by Republican, and, 
  2. Mr. Brooks damn well know that if he ever labeled his asinine assertions clearly and correctly (journalism!) he would never make again make it to the Acela Corridor Quiet Car without children pointing and laughing at him in the street.
And so we get just one more nauseating example of Mr. Brooks concocting another wildly false equivalence in order to crank out another steaming log of fainting-couch piety denouncing the Culture of Washington.

But since Mr. Brooks' began his sweeping assertion that the Trump/Russia investigation is a big 'ol nothingburger that everyone should ignore by opening the paddock and taking his own past out for a walk, it would be irresponsible of me in the extreme if I did not remind you of some of the many, many times in The Past when Mr. Brooks has made other sweeping assertions about the salience or non-salience of some issue.  And to be 100% fair, I will be taking for my text today only those sweeping assertions which Mr. Brooks made years after his Wall Street Journal days when he allegedly learned his lesson about making sweeping assertions.

Back when...
...Those Pelosi Democrats were about to become "the stupid party" for believing that massive, unpaid-for tax cuts might somehow lead back to deficits. (November 2002)

...Mr. Brooks' used his brilliant command of post-causality economics (March 2001) to explain to stupid, parochial, panic-peddling Liberals that Yes, There Is a New Economy which makes Bush's massive tax cuts easily affordable!  "The real question about the Bush tax cuts, then, is not, Can we afford them? The real question is, Why are they so small?"

...the enlightened reforms of Great Men were on the verge of transforming the Republican Party into the Awesome Party!  (September 1999)

...this time the enlightened reforms of Great Men really were on the verge of transforming the Republican Party into the Awesome Party!  (August 2000)

... OK, jumped the gun a little, but seriously, very soon the enlightened reforms of Great Men will definitely transform the Republican Party into the Awesome Party!  (September 2001)

...You know what?  George W. Bush is not merely a Great Man (November 2002)  but a Great Man who is on his way to almost single-handedly purifying an Elite Institution so that it can get on with the business of restoring our National Greatness (February 2002)

...You know what sucks?  Both Sides suck!  Which is why I confidently predict we'll be seeing the rise of an Awesome Third Party -- a McCain/Lieberman Party -- real soon!  (August 2006)

...Let's all agree to forget about the many, many times over the last decade and a half that I've made this same, sweeping assertion, because this time it is definitely true that, thanks to the enlightened reforms of Great Men, the Republican Party is definitely on the verge of becoming into the Awesome Party!  (November 2014)

...and of course (April 2003) let us never forget about all the Hell those poor, stupid, Saddam-loving Liberal dupes and long-hair peaceniks are gonna pay "Now that the war in Iraq is over" and the unequivocal genius of George W. Bush is an established historical fact,
As you can see, Mr. Brooks has a long and storied history of being spectacularly wrong about everything except understanding exactly what kind of fairy tales his powerful and cosseted peer group wants to hear on any given day,  

And has been true since the beginning of time, flattering the powerful is the best dollar around.

Update:

We now go to Ace Crimes-Against-Journalism reporter, Brother Charlies Pierce, who is live at the scene of Mr. Brooks' massive, multiple-bullshit pileup
David Brooks Didn't Do the Reading. Look What Happened.

...
From The New York Times:

I was the op-ed editor at The Wall Street Journal at the peak of the Whitewater scandal. We ran a series of investigative pieces "raising serious questions" (as we say in the scandal business) about the nefarious things the Clintons were thought to have done back in Arkansas. Now I confess I couldn't follow all the actual allegations made in those essays. They were six jungles deep in the weeds. But I do remember the intense atmosphere that the scandal created. A series of bombshell revelations came out in the media, which seemed monumental at the time. A special prosecutor was appointed and indictments were expected. Speculation became the national sport. In retrospect Whitewater seems overblown. And yet it has to be confessed that, at least so far, the Whitewater scandal was far more substantive than the Russia-collusion scandal now gripping Washington.
This may be the most shameless passage of political journalism I have ever read. It contains more of the elements of passive-aggression, self-absolution, historical amnesia, and outright falsehood in the same place than any other single location this side of the author's own frontal lobes.

Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear. Note the shabby, silly alibi that leads us off.
Now I confess I couldn't follow all the actual allegations made in those essays.
You were the editor, fool. It was your job to follow the actual allegations, because a lot of them were crazy tales from Arkansas con-men who looked at the national press and saw a battalion of easy marks.
They were six jungles deep in the weeds.
And hip-deep in pure bullshit, but do go on.
A series of bombshell revelations came out in the media, which seemed monumental at the time.
Some of those were contained in a series of "investigative essays" that helped drive Vince Foster to kill himself. We know this because the WSJ was specifically mentioned in his suicide note. I'm surprised a copy of it isn't hanging in the editorial department...
Go read it all here.


And here, the redoubtable Yastreblyansky lands one hay-maker after another.
There never was anything. The folks at the Wall Street Journal editorial page and their compatriots at the Times and the other rags devoted to the destruction of the Clinton presidency, "six jungles deep in the weeds", as Brooks says (don't ask me what that means), churned themselves into a frenzy over nothing, as should have been clear from that first incoherent Jeff Gerth article in the Times, March 8 1992. Gerth himself, Eric Boehlert notes,  
actually points his finger at Times editors who have steadfastly defended his work in the past and blames them for nearly ruining his Whitewater exposé. Gerth claims that editors, without his knowledge, rewrote his first and best-known Whitewater article and saddled it with factual errors. The unsettling revelation, buried in a Her Way endnote, raises even more questions about Gerth, the Times, and their Whitewater misadventure.

As they say, if it was a fight, somebody woulda stopped it.

And if it were "journalism",  somebody woulda stopped it 20 years ago.

Mr. Pierce subtitles his piece as follows:
And now he's rewriting the Whitewater history to absolve himself.
Which should come as a surprise to no one since virtually every single column David Brooks has ever squeezed out into the pages of The New York Times has been a wanton act of denial, deflection and radical historic revisionism all in the service of absolving David Brooks.

As your humble scrivener wrote long ago...
...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 odds are he'll get away with it too.


3 comments:

keith gargus said...

Bobo painted a dayglo orange target between his eyes with this article. Nice shot anyway, DG.
Brother Charlie pointed to a quote,(paraphrasing) as op-ed editor, I ĉouldn't follow all the serious allegations made in our multi-segment investigätive report... later tuned out to be nothing.
Really? The editor couldn't follow them? The editor couldn't fact ĉheck the article or check sources?
Bobo is a wretched writer, but his editorial talents were criminal. Asshole.

Update: a commenter jogged my memory that there was an investigation, before the Starr Flying Circus, that found no ẃrongdoing. But, like Bengazi, sometimes the truth isn't that useful.

wibble said...

"...this week/...this week" or "...this week/...last week"?

Just wanting to make sure... :)

jim said...

Er... how many people got shitcanned due to Whitewater?
A lawyer? An accountant? A janitor?
Anybody?

Good enough FSB mission sanitation = RussiaGate becomes yet another Dems' Own Goal.

Russia Shmussia -- FOLLOW HIS FUCKING MONEY.

Quick(ish) recipe for some delicious RICO souffle to pop up.
Just ask close family friend Joey No-Socks!