Sunday, December 10, 2017

David Brooks Got a Song That Ain't Got No Melody

He's gonna sing it to his friends.
Will it go round in circles?
Will it fly high like a bird up in the sky?

David Brooks pooped out a long, sad column on Friday entitled "The G.O.P. Is Rotting".  It caught many people's attention -- so much so that many people who are not America's leading Brooksologist had many things to say about it --
-- which I'm sure I will get to in greater depth sooner or later, unless this post veers into the tall grass, as happens every now and then.*

But the long and short of Mr. Brooks' particular genre of New York Times'-underwritten fiction (and as I have pointed out countless times already, it is fiction) is that, like Camleot, once there was a Republican party which, for, one brief shining moment was fucking awesome.
The Republican Party I grew up with admired excellence.
And that unbeknownst to anyone, somewhere along the way something went wrong.
A lot of good, honorable Republicans used to believe there was a safe middle ground. You didn’t have to tie yourself hip to hip with Donald Trump, but you didn’t have to go all the way to the other extreme and commit political suicide like the dissident Jeff Flake, either. You could sort of float along in the middle, and keep your head down until this whole Trump thing passed.

Now it’s clear that middle ground doesn’t exist. That’s because Donald Trump never stops asking...
Something which slipped right by men like Mr. David Brooks, whose only fucking job for the past 20 years has been to be paid exorbitant sums of American money to speak with sweeping, insider authority about what was going on inside the Conservative movement and the Republican party.  Something which men like Mr. David Brooks have confidently asserted for decades was just a figment to the fevered imagination of stupid, deranged, Bush-hating Liberals who, I'm sure, were on stilts the whole time.

This whole being-completely-fucking-wrong-about-everything-having-to-do-with-his-own-party has left Mr. David  Brooks groping for an explanation, which he delivers in a manner best appreciated if you imagine it coming out of his bland moon face in same baby-talk tone as President Merkin Muffley explaining to Soviet Premier Dimitri Kissoff that one of his base commanders has gone "a little funny in the head":

This is the moment when the enforcement of the Beltway Iron Rule of David Brooks --

-- becomes most important, because this is the moment where the time-line of Mr. Brooks' political theology -- that his Republican party was humming along great until, completely without warning, it was suddenly taken over by hobgoblins and madmen -- goes into the ditch.

For example, on Friday, December 8, 2017, Mr. Brooks would like you to believe that the downfall of his party began with the arrival of Sarah Palin and Fox News:
The reason, I guess, is that the rot that has brought us to the brink of Senator Roy Moore began long ago. Starting with Sarah Palin and the spread of Fox News, the G.O.P. traded an ethos of excellence for an ethos of hucksterism.
But immediately there's a problem.

Fox News began its reign of bullshit in 1996.  That is a definite point on a verifiable timeline.

But here is Mr. David Brooks in 1999 telling his readers that his Republican party is being rebuilt into something awesome:
How George W. Bush and John McCain -- without quite realizing it -- are creating a new Republican philosophy
SEP 13, 1999

...together, Bush's Compassionate Conservatism and McCain's New Patriotic Challenge are steps toward a fresh vision for the Republican party. Indeed, if you meld the core messages of the two campaigns, you get a coherent governing philosophy for the post-Clinton age.
Here is Mr. David Brooks in 2000 telling his readers that his Republican party is on the mend!
Pabulum with a Purpose
Beneath the much-mocked superficiality of the Philadelphia convention is a serious effort to transform the GOP
AUG 14, 2000

The GOP is not intolerant...
Here is Mr. David Brooks in 2001 telling his readers that his Republican party is hale and hearty and doing just fine and it's the Libtards like me who are wacky and foolish:
Competent Conservatives, Reactionary Liberals
JAN 15, 2001

...We seem to be entering a period of competent conservatism and reactionary liberalism. George W. Bush has put together a cabinet long on management experience and practical skills. But liberal commentators and activists, their imaginations aflame, seem to be caught in a time warp, back in the days when Norman Lear still had hair. 
Here is Mr. David Brooks in 2002 telling his readers that there is no such thing as Corporate America -- that it's all a dirty, pinko Libtard myth invented to win elections:
Why Republicans Should Be Afraid 
A lot can go wrong for them this fall.
JUL 29, 2002

...the Democrats seem to think that there is this organized entity called Corporate America, made up of senior executives, Republicans, white country clubbers, and people who were cheerleaders and prom kings in high school. If they can get the rest of the country to hate these people as much as they do, then they will win elections. Because they have this category in their heads, Democrats see the corporate scandals as tainting the whole Republican party.

But Americans who have not been suckled on the "Marx-Engels Reader" do not carry these categories around in their heads. They perceive no one organized entity, Corporate America, that ruthlessly exploits another, Ordinary Americans.
At this point along the time-line of Mr. Brooks' political theology we enter the period of the Great Iraqi Clusterfuck during which he unlimbers his most venomous prose to praise George W. Bush and the Republican party unstintingly and flog dirty, Libtard traitors like me unsparingly.

So yadda yadda, yadda...We Won!

Something something...Libtards are dolts and liars who will never admit they were wrong, wrong about Dubya.

And then oopsie! It all falls apart, and Mr. David Brooks (and the rest of the Beltway media) suddenly and aggressively shift away from praising George W. Bush without ceasing...

...and begin a Brand New Era of blaming every problem under the Sun on Both Sides.

Now being a clever reader you see that I have palmed a card.  OK, the "Fox News" part of David Brooks' time-line might be fucked, but what about Sarah Palin?
 Starting with Sarah Palin and the spread of Fox News, the G.O.P. traded an ethos of excellence for an ethos of hucksterism
Huh?  What about that?

Fair point.

Sarah Palin showed up on the American political scene when John McCain named her as his running mate in late September of 2008.

Here is Mr. David Brooks six years later in November of 2014, just seven months before Donald J. Trump rode his Escalator of Doom into history.
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. 
You see, for University of Chicago history baccalaureate David Brooks, modern Republican political history cannot be allowed to exist as it does for little nobodies like you and me -- as a series of events and decisions which lead one to the next, to the next, until we arrive at the Administration of President Stupid.  A history in which nature and trajectory of the modern Republican party were so the fundamental and directly observable that the accelerating devolution of the Right from depravity to depravity to where we are now was clearly and easily predictable (and predicted) even by stupid Libtard traitors like me.

Because if history does exist in the way you and I perceive it -- a linear progression through time occasionally spiced up with Giant Screaming Neon Signs that tell us what will probably come next if we continue  down a particular road -- then it would appear that Mr. David Brooks of The New York Times must either be a complete idiot or a pathological liar, neither one of which looks good on the Times' masthead.

But Mr. Brooks is neither a historian nor a journalist:  he is an amateur Conservative political theologian, who plies his trade at the intersection of both folly and fraud.

For him, the past and present are one big bag of unrelated, atemporal baubles to be ransacked in order to craft little political morality fables.  Or, rather, slight variations of exactly the same, extremely profitable self-exonerating political morality fable -- Both Sides Are To Blame And Men Like David Brooks Had Nothing To Do With Any Of It -- over and over again.

With the Rise of Trump, Mr. Brooks makes it very clear that he believed his Republican Party is faced with the unique threat of an unprincipled, unrepentant thug leading a legion of craven elected officials into dark and terrible places (from The New York Times on Friday):
“What shall it profit a man,” Jesus asked, “if he gain the whole world and suffer the loss of his own soul?” The current Republican Party seems to not understand that question. Donald Trump seems to have made gaining the world at the cost of his soul his entire life’s motto.

It’s amazing that there haven’t been more Republicans like Mitt Romney who have said: “Enough is enough! I can go no further!”
And in his Intelligence Squared debate performance on same day he wrote this column**, Mr. Brooks also makes it clear that he believes the reason so many Republican voters have thrown in with such craven and reprehensible people is that we Libtards are smug, judgmental assholes (this my rush transcript which begins at around the 15:30 mark, so all typos are my own):
And the fourth thing..biggest thing I found as far as the resolution is that you could tell somebody based on a label.  ...  The claim of this resolution is that Liberals as people are superior to Robbie and me.  And the rest of those who go by the label "conservatism".  I fundamentally believe that is a bit of a pernicious way to think.  If you think you're superior to me and you come from a moral high ground it's pretty hard for us to have a conversation.  
If you think you come from a moral high ground superior to me I can't compromise with your because to do that would be to surrender my honor.  If you think you're morally superior to Conservatives well then Conservatives will act with angry resentment and a lot of people voted for Donald Trump  because they though a bunch of tenured radicals along the coasts thought they were morally superior to them.  And so if you want the kind of politics you have today, think you're morally superior to the other side.
During this "debate" Mr. Brooks and his partner goes all-in on his despicable Both Siderist dogma by dismissing the whole idea that anyone can be morally superior to anyone else as a "pernicious concept".  In fact, as Mr. Brooks elaborated, anyone who dares to think they are morally superior to anyone else is probably a sign that they are not.

Got that?  In Mr. Brooks' universe, John Lewis is not morally superior to Roy Moore and Barack Obama is not morally superior to Donald Trump.  Like some half-drunk sophomore philosophy major trying to bullshit their way out of a DUI, Mr. Brooks wants you to believe that the people who presume to judges his actions are the ones who are truly morally suspect. 

In doing so, Mr. Brooks not only takes his French leave from any responsibility for anything his party has ever done, and not only destroys the possibility of any public conversation on this subject by insisting as a precondition for participation that no one should be allowed to draw a distinction between apple juice and rat poison, but he also removes all agency from those who want to feed us the rat poison.  According to Mr. Brooks, the base voters of his Republican party who showed up last November in their tens of millions to elect an unhinged, openly racist, serial liar and sexual predator in order to take my family's health insurance away did not do so because they are racists or Dominionists or because letting Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity take a dump in their skulls for 20 years had turned them into reprogammable meatbags.  No, according to Mr. Brooks they queued up to proudly vote for a deranged monster because "a bunch of tenured radicals along the coasts thought they were morally superior to them."

Thanks a lot, Libtards!

But just for fun and to beat this dead horse just a bit more, let's go back in time a little ways.  Before Donald Trump.  Before Sarah Palin.  Before the Fake Tea Party and Death Panels and Birthers.

Back to an era which has been cordoned off  as "Danger: Do Not Enter!" by most of the mainstream media, the entire Republican party.

Back to 2005 when Mr. Brooks' Republican party was -- surprise! -- facing the unique threat of an unprincipled, unrepentant thug leading a legion of craven elected officials into dark and terrible places.  Note Mr. Brooks' completely hilarious read on who the "American people" are (spoiler: they're conservative!) and up with what kind of mischief these Conservative voters definitely will not put:
Then there is the Tom DeLay situation. Conversations with House Republicans in the past week leave me with one clear impression: If DeLay falls, it will not be because he took questionable trips or put family members on the payroll. It will be because he is anxiety-producing and may become a political liability.

Being conservative, the American people don't want leaders who perpetually play it close to the ethical edge. They don't want leaders who, under threat, lash out wildly at beloved institutions like the judiciary. They don't want leaders whose instinct is always to go out wildly on the attack. They don't want leaders so reckless that even when they know they are living under a microscope, they continue to act in ways that invite controversy.

House Republicans like what DeLay has done, and few have any personal animus toward him, but his aggressiveness makes them -- and his own constituents -- nervous. Only 39 percent of DeLay's Texas constituents said they would stick with him if he were up for re-election today, a Houston Chronicle survey found.
Twelve years ago, Libtard nobodies like me were warning that conservative voters were plunging down a long, dark road that would swiftly lead to the election of monsters and the ruin of the nation, while highly-paid Conservative brain wizards like David Brooks asserting with absolute confidence that Conservative voters could never in a million years nominate and elect someone who sabotaged the judiciary and other "beloved institutions", attacked chimp-with-a-machine-gun-fashion in all directions, lurched from controversy to controversy, and played it "close to the ethical edge".  

And twelve years ago, who did Mr. David Brooks blame for driving to poor, noble Conservative voters into the arms of such the Party of Tom DeLay?  Well if you guessed those same "tenured radicals along the coasts" who, twelve years later, are apparently still driving those poor, noble Conservative voters (who somehow have managed to avoid learning a single fucking thing in the intervening years except to turn Fox up louder) into the arms of monsters, you are correct!
This does not mean good news for Democrats. That party is at risk of going into a death spiral. The Democrats lost white working-class voters by 23 percentage points in the last election, and now the party is being led by people who are guaranteed to alienate those voters even more: the highly educated and secular university-town elites who follow Howard Dean and believe Bush hatred and stridency are the outward signs of righteousness.
Twelve years later, history has proven that the base voters of Mr. Brooks' Republican party absolutely adore literally everything that Mr. Brooks told his readers that they loath, and yet the fairy tale which The New York Times continues to pay him a princely sum to spin about what the Republican party really is why they do what they do has remained virtually unchanged.

After the debate, Melissa Harris-Perry tweeted this, which echoed her plea during the debate that those who sat by and let the Republican party (my words, not hers) devolve into a freakshow of lunatics and bigots and imbeciles must stop pretending that this all just happened out-of-the-blue 18 months ago when Trump showed up and take some god damn responsibility for the disaster they helped to author.
But sadly, that is never going to happen.

And it is never going to happen specifically because of men like Mr. David Brooks who, as I mentioned above, is neither historian nor journalist.  Mr. Brooks is an amateur Conservative political theologian -- a cardinal in the Beltway's one true religion, the High and Holy Church of Both Siderism. A cult built on cherry-picking random facts and observations from here and there and extrapolating wildly and wrongly from them in order to generate variations of exactly the same, Beltway-comforting and self-exonerating political morality fable over and over again:
Both Sides Are To Blame And Men Like David Brooks Had Nothing To Do With Any Of It
*Look like this post veered into the tall grass after all :-)

Behold, a Tip Jar!

**The Intelligence Squared debate I referenced was stupid for a lot of reasons, but mostly it was stupid because while the topic was "Liberals Hold the Moral High Ground", neither the moderator (John Donvan) nor Team Conservative (David Brooks and Robert George) were remotely interested in letting the debate stray into any discussion about what was happening in the here-and-now with real political parties and real issues.

Mr. Donvan appeared to realize almost immediately how stupidly the proposition for this debate had been framed, but nonetheless kept aggressively cutting off Team Good Guys (Melissa Harris-Perry and Howard Dean) when they introduced facts and figures and insisted that they stick to debating whether a completely abstract and theoretical concept of "Liberal" (whatever the fuck that means) is morally superior to a completely abstract and theoretical concept of "Conservative" across all time, space and dimensions.

Which suited Team Conservative just fine, because it let them off the hook for explaining the death-spiral depravity of the Republican Party and the Conservatives Movement as they have existed during their entire adult lifetime and instead permitted them to wander the aisles of an Imaginary GOP and Idealized Conservatism, picking and choosing whatever fairy tales suited their immediate need.

Thus armored and with the floor slanted mightily in their direction, all Team Conservative had to do was play defense.

Example (slightly fictionalized):
Team Good Guys say "Roy Moore".
Team Conservative responds: Well what about Bill Clinton?  What about Woodrow Wilson?  What about Maximilien fucking Robespierre?
Example (slightly fictionalized):
Team Good Guys say "Donald Trump".
Team Conservative responds: Trump is not a Republican.  He is a reactionary outlier that showed up 18 months ago and ensorcelled the GOP using some magical power we don't understand.  Before that everything was fucking awesome!  Trump is the enemy of both Republicans and Democrats, and both Republicans and Democrats are equally responsible for his rise.


Andy K said...

Oh, drifty, you beautiful savage...THANK YOU!

Andy K said...

Oh, drifty, you beautiful savage...Thank you!

Jake formerly of the LP said...

How is being a Koched-up hawk like Tom freaking Cotton preferable to,being Sarah Palin? Like most Republicans, the only differences is in how couth you can be while being full of shit and bigoted.

dinthebeast said...

‘I’m homeless. I’m politically homeless.’

Oh boo fucking hoo. I don't suppose you could have been bothered to like, pull any maintenance on that home while you cheered on its "destruction" or anything like that, could you?

And as someone who is one missed disability check away from actual homelessness, looking down the goddamn barrel of your Republicans cheering for that check's elimination, I'm having a hard time feeling sorry for your politically homeless asses.

-Doug in Oakland

Meremark said...

Faroukin Rash Lamebrain went off on Brooks this week - I think it was Friday's programing.

He annihilated Brooks for this column. I can't remember all of Rash's attacks on moralistic philosophizing; it went on and on a half an hour at least; I was laughing roaring.

His most dismissive blow was for the source. The liberal-soaked NYTimes would only allow a diluted conservative voice. And besides, Brooks is now brainwashed by frequent indoctrination, and ridicule, from everyone else at the Times. (As if Brooks didn't phone it in.)

Lamebrain says Brooks is a lost cause whose time is past. I hope you get to hear it somehow, driftglass. I thought of you all through it and Lamebrain was even channeling you.

I think it was in his third hour on Friday. Perhaps the second hour. And maybe earlier in the week, like Wednesday. Did Brooks do a column midweek? If so, Lamebrain's takedown was the next day.

But Lamebrain is a big fat idiot and is totally bonkers on the subject of Al Franken.

Did anyone else hear that episode?

It is a daily delight to hear Lamebrain screaming as he is engulfed in hell.

islandmike said...

...and Aunt Peggy Noonan shows up to smirk about the fact that not only has she blocked the scent of the shit she helped promulgate from abusing her tender nose, she sees absolutely NONE of that same shit present in the current state of the Republican party...

"I merely lit a cannot say I had any part in the fire..."

she is waiting for the reincarnation of St. Ronnie...willing to give it all one more try...because, well...history SURELY wouldn't repeat itself, would it?

Davis Statton said...

I've come to believe that conservatives hate liberals is not because we think we are superior, but that they think that they themselves inferior. It just makes more sense that way.

Robt said...

Could it be as simple as the NTTimes hired DFB to fill a hiring quota?
By hiring a single Dissociative identity disorder.

Multi Personalities (for the GOP reader).

NYT fulfills several employment quotas and only has to provide one single health care plan.

Procopius said...

It just struck me that Brooks is saying conservatives have no responsibility for their choices and actions. They elected Donald Trump and put his Wrecking Crew in office because "Liberals" disrespected them, so they had no choice but to react with resentment and stupidity. If you have no choice you are not blameworthy, right? Breathtaking. It seems reasonable to me to believe that a person who says he is morally superior to you is, really, not. To say that forces you to jump off a cliff does not follow.