I have been writing about Mr. David Brooks since I started blogging. Almost 13 years now. And I can tell you one thing that is absolutely true: David Brooks and Sean Hannity are in the exactly same business.
Seriously. Exactly the same business.
Of course, Sean Hannity's customers are more "inbred trailer trash" --
-- while David Brooks' clientele are more Bert Cooper --
-- but Mr. Brooks and Mr. Hannity are most assuredly in the same business.
The business of lying to groups of terrified Conservative mental shut-ins.
And business is good.
And really profitable.
And really easy, because when you make your living lying to groups of terrified Conservative mental shut-ins, you never have to actually get better at your job. You can just tell the same lies over and over again, no matter how tattered and ridiculous they get. Sure, Terrifying Reality will come crashing into your Reality Denial Pup Tent every few days and expose you as the liar and fraud you are, but so what? At this point, the terrified Conservative mental shut-ins inside your cult are so completely invested in your lies that they will actually help you reestablish the structural integrity of your Reality Denial Pup Tent after each collision with Terrifying Reality.
And as for critics who live outside of your Reality Denial Pup Tent? Ha! Fuck those guys! By definition no one outside the cult matters because outside the cult is where Terrifying Reality lurks and obviously, anyone who is native to that strange and terrible place cannot be trusted.
What brings us to this place today is Mr. David Brooks writing an op-ed column in The New York Times that is so fucking perfect in its unalloyed David Brooksness that the Rise and Fall of American Journalism textbooks of tomorrow will reprint and dissect it over and over again.
So to set the scene I will borrow from my own archives yet, this time from the Year of Our Lord 2007. Eleven years ago.
Or maybe it was a thousand years ago.
The fuck if I can tell anymore.
The Big Lie...Whatever explicitly Republican high crimes, scandals, lie or treasons are under discussion, Something Very Bad will happen to me if I don’t automatically and doctrinally butt in with no evidence whatsoever and assert that, somehow, Democrats are equally bad.This is GOP Talking Point Number One, repeated so incessantly and so ubiquitously that it has reached the point of reflex.Everyone is equally partisan.Equally to blame.Equally unreasonable.Everybody knows that…except for some mysterious reason no one can lay hands on a single metric that shows this to be true.And why? Why this persistent, voluntary blindness?Well, for the GOP the answer is obvious. I mean, since they can now force the bar to be lowered and the ire to be raised uniformly and robotically for everyone every time they and only they are caught naked, in the apse, fisting the Easter Bunny, they can start every national race no worse than dead-even with any competitor.But with others – with those who do not follow anything political very closely at all – I think the answer is really very simple. They want to believe it because to believe otherwise is terrifying...And now we are faced with another grim reality with frightening implications: That millions of our fellow citizens are either hateful morons or clinically insane and that they are almost all packed into the same political Party.A Party/Media/Corporate Empire which now survives solely by keeping its base ignorant, frightened and berserk with rage.And the implications that flow from this unhappy revelation that we are two, distinct Americas now -- and that while one is certainly flawed and squabbling and timorous, the other America – the Red/Fox America -- has become so existentially monstrous that it is now inimical to every value we claim to cherish -- are so terrifying to normal citizens that they will not accept it.And so with the eager help of Hate Radio, Fox News and the Mainstream Media, they invent a bedtime story to help them hide the ugly truth. An opium dream that is now faithfully parroted by every Broder and Brooks and Friedman and Neal Conan in the land. This lie that no matter how low the GOP sinks, somehow, some way the Democrats are equally and oppositely terrible.Equally steeped in sin and intolerance.Equally to blame for every bad thing...
Well, it's now eleven years later a million miles further down the road to Republican fascism than we were even in the depths of the Age of Bush.
Eleven years since Mr. David Brooks wished a mighty wish for a "Party No. 3" -- a "McCain-Lieberman Party" -- to comfort his terrified Conservative mental shut-in readers after he had thrilled them with lurid tales of the terrible threats to American Democracy coming from...
The flamers in the established parties tell themselves that their enemies are so vicious they have to be vicious too. They rationalize their behavior by insisting that circumstances have forced them to shelve their integrity for the good of the country. They imagine that once they have achieved victory through pulverizing rhetoric they will return to the moderate and nuanced sensibilities they think they still possess.But the experience of DeLay and the net-root DeLays in the Democratic Party amply demonstrates that means determine ends. Hyper-partisans may have started with subtle beliefs, but their beliefs led them to partisanship and their partisanship led to malice and malice made them extremist, and pretty soon they were no longer the same people.
Then, yadda yadda Barack Obama.
Yadda yadda Tea Party bigots.
Yadda yadda Birtherism!
Yadda yadda Death Panels!
Yadda yadda the Kenyan Usurper Is Coming For Your Guns!
Yadda yadda BenghaziBengazhiBanghazi!
And yadda yadda a thousand other direct, frontal assaults to our democracy by Mr. Brooks' Republican Party of bigots, traitors, and imbeciles, all of which has now been excised from the collective memory of the Right.
And now it is eleven years later, and what was once a frightening implication of "...millions of our fellow citizens are either hateful morons or clinically insane and that they are almost all packed into the same political Party" has metastasized into the horrifying reality of Mr. Brooks' Republican Party nominating and electing President Stupid.
Eleven years later but Mr. David Brooks hasn't changed the basic motifs of the toxic fairy tale one iota. Eleven years later and he is still selling the same ludicrous bullshit to the same privileged cloistered fence-straddling man-babies except this time around the track ("The End of the Two-Party System") Mr. Brooks offers the Great Recession as his excuse du jour for why his Republican Party is fucked-in-the-head.
Today, after the financial crisis, the shrinking of the middle class, the partisan warfare, a scarcity mind-set is dominant...
An excuse which Martin Longman notes here, is utterly absurd even for the barrel-scrapings of David Brooks.
But from my long perspective on the Big Lie which The New York Times pays Mr. Brooks to repeat over and over again, decade after decade, the villain of any given iteration of that Big Lie is almost beside the point. Over the years Mr. Brooks has grabbed virtually every passing headline to use as the inciting incident to kick start this week's episode of Both Sides Do It.
Examples of inciting incidents are:
One of Joe Mannix's buddies from Vietnam drops by unexpectedly. Trouble follows.A race-horse disappears right off the track. Can Thomas Banacek figure out what happened and collect the reward from Amalgamated Insurance, Ltd.?A student's father is accused of murder. Can master illusionist Tony "The Magician" Blake use the flying dollar bill trick to clear his name?Ned Lamont beats David Brooks' spirit animal, Holy Joe Lieberman, in the Connecticut Democratic primary. Is this the end of American democracy as we know it?
As with any predictable, long-running series, the inciting incident for any David Brooks Both Sides Do It column is never more than a cardboard villain which exists solely to set in motion the umpteenth enactment of the same Big Lie Mr. Brooks repeats to his readers every week.
First, there must be The Flagrant Denial Of History. Specifically, that everything was jim fucking dandy with Mr. Brooks' Republican Party until the Very Recent Bad Thing happened:
[Trump] insists on perpetual warfare -- against all comers. Stuck fighting his wars with him, Republican politicians have had to say goodbye to most of the pillars of conservatism: rule of law, fiscal discipline, global engagement, moral decency, the idea that people should be judged by the content of their character and not the color of their skin.
In theory, the G.O.P. restrictionist position on immigration is perfectly legitimate. But Trump has fatally entwined it with his constant race baiting. Republican politicians could have denounced the race baiting but remained silent. They allowed themselves to become fellow travelers to bigotry, and spoiled their own cause...
During my entire adult life the Republican Party -- the Party of Whitewater witch-hunts and Willie Horton and Birtherism and Death Panels and Jerry Falwell and Lying Us Into The Iraq War -- has never shown the slightest fucking interest in to rule of law or fiscal discipline or sane global engagement or moral decency or the idea that people should be judged by the content of their character and not the color of their skin. But Mr. Brooks' privileged cloistered fence-straddling man-baby readers desperately want to believe that it has been all of these things -- desperately want to believe that they have not been complicit in the ruin and madness they see all around them -- and they are willing to pay premium prices to hire shit-spinners like Mr. Brooks to tell them soothing nostalgic nonsense about an imaginary noble Republican past which never was.
And so Trump and Trump alone becomes Patient Zero of the wingnut plague. Trump becomes the Original Sin. And Mr. Brooks' Republican Party which nominated and elected Trump and solidly supports him to this day somehow had very little to do with Trump. They're simply "stuck" with him now. Tainted by his racism. Swept away from their noble mission in the wake of his bigotry.
Well shit, then it seems pretty obvious what anyone in their right mind should do, right? Run like hell towards the Democrats. I mean, whatever your beef with Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama, they weren't lunatics leading a mob of unhinged bigots and looters and freaks, right?
Wrong. Because you're thinking like a rational human being and not one of the Conservative mental shut-ins who pay Mr. Brooks to keep their Reality Denial Pup Tent inflated. For them, no matter what is going on out here in the Real World, no matter how indisputable the nation's problems can be laid at the feet of Mr. Brooks' irredeemably fucked-in-the-head Republican Party, no episode of Mr. Brooks shitty, long-running soap opera can end without Mr. Brooks definitively declaring that the threats to American Democracy are coming from the inevitable Second Act of this Nauseating Farce.
...Both Sides! (with emphasis added):
Under the influence of this mentality, evangelicalism turns from a faith into a siege-mentality interest group that reveres a pagan immoralist. Under the influence of this mentality, liberalism goes from a creed that values individual rights and deliberation to one that values group separatism and intellectual intolerance...
Moreover, the warrior mentality builds on itself. As the right pulverizes the left, the left feels the need to pulverize back, and on and on. This is a generational challenge. Trump will be succeeded by some other warrior.
Eventually, conservatives will realize: If we want to preserve conservatism, we can’t be in the same party as the clan warriors. Liberals will realize: If we want to preserve liberalism, we can’t be in the same party as the clan warriors...
And just like that, to service the pusillanimous fantasies of his privileged cloistered fence-straddling man-baby readers, Mr. Brooks makes the entire Clinton Administration disappear.
The Obama Administration disappear
The entire Democratic Party disappear.
Well fuck you, you sniveling little shit. The Left Remembers!
But our drama is not yet over. Because having dismissed everyone who is not David Brooks (and his privileged cloistered fence-straddling man-baby readers) as politically and morally unfit to govern the United States, as his Final Act Mr. Brooks must conjure a brand-new, multi-party political establishment into existence out of whole cloth, populated by the citizens of Mr. Brooks' Imaginary Reasonable Center.
Eventually, those who cherish the democratic way of life will realize they have to make a much more radical break than any they ever imagined. When this realization dawns the realignment begins. Even with all the structural barriers, we could end up with a European-style multiparty system.
The scarcity mentality is eventually incompatible with the philosophies that have come down through the centuries. Decent liberals and conservatives will eventually decide they need to break from it structurally. They will realize it’s time to start something new.
Except there are no decent Conservatives anymore, Mr. Brooks.
Thanks to the hard work and billions of dollars spent by Mr. Brooks' Republican Party and Conservative Movement over the past 50 years to engineer a political machine that could not only nominate and elect a degenerate monster like Donald Trump but cheer him on, there are now only two kinds of Conservatives.
Those who pay Sean Hannity to lie to them.
And those who pay David Brooks to lie to them.
Behold, a Tip Jar!