Friday, July 21, 2017

David Brooks: The Great Project Continues

"Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.  Unless you're David Brooks, in which case you will go right on pretending to look for the Real Culprit long after everyone else has figured it out and gone home."   
-- Sherlock Holmes, updated.

Refreshed and ready from his dalliances with fancy class warfare sammiches and dead French radical philosophers , it is time once again for New York Time's David Brooks to buckle down and get back to his real job: using his op-ed column to poop out chapter after deplorable chapter of his Great Project: 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:  Up Until 10 Minutes Ago The Republican Party Was Doing Great!

In which Mr. Brooks zig-zags a fancy gavotte through a minefield of more than 25 years of Republican vandalism, sedition and catastrophe in order to pluck a couple of daisies.

I mean, just look at this record of sterling accomplishments.
Back when the Republican Party functioned as a governing party it embraced both styles of freedom, but gave legislative priority to freedom of capacity. Look at the Republicans’ major legislative accomplishments of the past 30 years. They used government to give people more capacities.

In 1990, George H.W. Bush signed the Americans With Disabilities Act, which gave disabled people more freedom to move about society. In 1996, Republicans passed and Bill Clinton signed a welfare reform law that tied benefits to work requirements so that recipients would develop the skills they need to succeed in the labor force. In 2003, Republicans passed a law giving Americans a new prescription drug benefit, which used market mechanisms to give them more control over how to use it.

First, the distance between 1990 and 2003 is not "30 years".

Second, to unpack everything that is wrong in that second paragraph would require more time and effort and adjectives than I am interested in spending, so instead, let's have media mogul Ezra Klein do some of the lifting:

Years later, Ezra Klein reminded readers of some of the events of that strange night in November of 2003:
A 15-minute vote was scheduled, and at the end of 15 minutes, the Democrats had won. The Republican leadership froze the clock for three hours while they desperately whipped defectors. This had never been done before. The closest was a 15-minute extension in 1987 that then-congressman Dick Cheney called “the most arrogant, heavy-handed abuse of power I’ve ever seen in the 10 years that I’ve been here.”

Tom DeLay bribed Rep. Nick Smith to vote for the legislation, using the political future of Smith’s son for leverage. DeLay was later reprimanded by the House Ethics Committee.

The leadership told Rep. Jim DeMint that they would cut off funding for his Senate race in South Carolina if he didn’t vote for the bill.
There were calls to members from George W. Bush on Air Force One. And “earmarks” — appropriations targeted to individual members and their districts — were showered on conservatives willing to cross the line. It got weird, said Klein:
Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, a “no” vote, spent the night “hiding on the Democratic side of the floor, crouching down to avoid eye contact with the Republican search team.”

Rep. Butch Otter, who provided one of the final votes after hours of arm-twisting from the Republican leadership, said, “I thought there was a chance I would get sick on the floor.”
One of the most remarkable features of that 2003 bill was the role that pharmaceutical lobbyists — not to mention soon-to-be pharmaceutical lobbyists like key sponsor Representative Billy Tauzin — played in the saga. One current House member who can testify to that phenomenon is North Carolina Republican Walter Jones, who in 2007 said those lobbyists largely wrote the bill:
“I’ve been in politics for 22 years,” says Jones, “and it was the ugliest night I have ever seen in 22 years.”...
But third and most importantly is Mr. Brooks' return to form.

Something something Jack Kemp:
This is not a party that’s going to produce a lot of modern-day versions of Jack Kemp.
Then something something regular Americans:
If you’re a regular American, the main threat to your freedom is illness, family breakdown, social decay, technological disruption and globalization. If you’re being buffeted by massive forces beyond your control, you don’t want legislation that says: Guess what? You’re on your own!
And then comes the actual objective of Mr. Brooks' column, which is the same as the objective of virtually every other David Brooks column: to assert for the umpteenth time that the GOP of today -- the Bad GOP -- was an utterly unpredictable, unforeseeable and radical break with the Good GOP.

That while Mr. Brooks was busy debating the finer points of Burkean Conservatism with his imaginary best friend at Taco Bell, the Bad GOP just precipitated out of thin air moments ago:
So now we have a health care bill that everybody hates. It has a 17 percent approval rating. It has no sponsors, no hearings, no champions and no advocates. As usual, Republican legislators have got themselves into a position where they have to vote for a bill they all despise. And if you think G.O.P. dysfunction is bad now, wait until we get to the debt ceiling wrangle, the budget fight and the tax reform crackup.

Sure, Donald Trump is a boob, but that doesn’t explain why Republicans can’t govern from Capitol Hill. The answer is that we’re living at a time when the prospects for the middle class are in sharp decline. And Republicans offer nothing but negativity, detachment, absence and an ax.
The Conservative road that brought us to this dark and terrible place was eight-lanes wide, arrow-straight, decades-long and very clearly marked.

And at every milestone along the way to this catastrophe there were the Right's eager enablers like Mr. David Brooks, making a fine living by of blandly assuring their readers, listeners and viewers that everything was fine and that whatever momentary glitches our democracy might be experiencing could be cured if only Democrats would capitulate just a little bit more.

Behold, a Tip Jar!


Hubert Vale said...

Remind me why this a$$clown keeps turning up like a bad penny on NPR and PBS?

crweaver said...

Your 'updated' Sherlock Holmes quote reminded me of this equally relevant passage:

The sun has gone down and the moon has come up
And long ago somebody left with the cup
But he's driving and striving and hugging the turns
And thinking of someone for whom he still burns

In this case, your aforementioned 'real culprit'.

Lawrence said...

The GOP offers both kinds of freedom: Country and Western.

Neo Tuxedo said...

He's going the distance. He's going for speed.
She's all alone in her time of need.
Because he's racing and pacing and plotting the course.
He's fighting and biting and riding on his horse.
He's going the distance...
No trophy, no flowers, no flashbulbs, no wine,
He's haunted by something he cannot define,
Bowel-shaking earthquakes of doubt and remorse
Assail him, impale him with monster-truck force.

In his mind, he's still driving, still making the grade.
She's hoping in time that her memories will fade.

trgahan said...

Based on how the latter two of Brook's examples worked out since enacted:

freedom of capacity means if you already have capacity, you can afford freedom. If you lack capacity, you don't deserve freedom, so those who do can take yours at a discount.

Can DFB be any more in the service of power?