Friday, May 25, 2018

David Brooks: While My Caviar Gently Weeps

Today in the world of Advanced Brooksology, Yastreblyansky was up at the crack of dawn plowing the south forty.
Local Man Who Believed Saddam Hussein Had an Advanced Nuclear Weapons Program and Still Thinks Lincoln Unified the United States and If We Show Respect to Rightwingers It Will End School Shootings Among Other Things Complains that Under Trump America Is Descending Into Fantasy
You should go check it out. As for myself, it's going to be a hella long and exhausting day here in our Hobbit hole in the middle of Middle America, so on the subject of David Brooks wagging his finger at Donald J. Trump for...
...celebrity subsuming governance. Every day he produces great geysers of fantasy — some of which rip the cultural fabric (Mexican rapists), some of which merely tug it (“Obama had my ‘wires tapped’”).

Trump’s fantasies regularly collide with reality, and so far reality has a perfect winning percentage. That’s what happened with North Korea on Thursday. I sympathized with Trump’s efforts to give North Korea an opportunity to change, but his bluster, flattery and commemorative coins amounted to nothing more than pseudo-policy — a verbal meringue buttressed by no analytic substance, no institutional leverage, no real power force.

The dangerous thing about Trump’s fantasy world is not when it dissolves into nothing; it’s when he seduces the rest of us to move into it. It’s not when he ignores the facts; it’s when he replaces them by building an alternate virtual reality and suckering us into co-creating it.
... I will simply add two things.

First,  Trump does not produce "geysers of fantasy".  

He lies.

He lies constantly, pathologically, about everything all the time.  And he is abetted in his every lie by a Republican media machine and political party which have been an existential threat to this country for decades.  An utterly toxic Republican media machine and political party which nominated and elected this racist, lying demagogue because he was the perfect manifestation of who they truly are and what they truly believe.  An utterly toxic Republican media machine and political party which Mr. David Brooks of The New York Times has spent his entire career ignoring, denying or otherwise dismissing by creating great geysers of fantasy.

From Mr. Brooks just eight months before Donald J. Trump oozed down the escalator and into the hearts of Republican voters everywhere:
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. 
Second, let us turn in our vast collection of great geysers of fantasy which Mr. Brooks has eagerly produced to advance his own fortunes and the Republican Cause to April of 2003:
The Collapse of the Dream Palaces
Mass destruction of mistaken ideas.
APR 28, 2003

... Now that the war in Iraq is over, we'll find out how many people around the world are capable of facing unpleasant facts. For the events of recent months confirm that millions of human beings are living in dream palaces, to use Fouad Ajami's phrase. They are living with versions of reality that simply do not comport with the way things are. They circulate and recirculate conspiracy theories, myths, and allegations with little regard for whether or not these fantasies are true. And the events of the past month have exposed them as the falsehoods they are.

...Finally, there is the dream palace of the American Bush haters. In this dream palace, there is so much contempt for Bush that none is left over for Saddam or for tyranny. Whatever the question, the answer is that Bush and his cronies are evil. What to do about Iraq? Bush is evil. What to do about the economy? Bush is venal. What to do about North Korea? Bush is a hypocrite.

In this dream palace, Bush, Cheney, and a junta of corporate oligarchs stole the presidential election, then declared war on Iraq to seize its oil and hand out the spoils to Halliburton and Bechtel. In this dream palace, the warmongering Likudniks in the administration sit around dreaming of conquests in Syria, Iran, and beyond. In this dream palace, the boy genius Karl Rove hatches schemes to use the Confederate flag issue to win more elections, John Ashcroft wages holy war on American liberties, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, and his cabal of neoconservatives long for global empire. In this dream palace, every story of Republican villainy is believed, and all the windows are shuttered with hate.

My third guess is that the Bush haters will grow more vociferous as their numbers shrink. Even progress in Iraq will not dampen their anger, because as many people have noted, hatred of Bush and his corporate cronies is all that is left of their leftism. And this hatred is tribal, not ideological. And so they will still have their rallies, their alternative weeklies, and their Gore Vidal polemics. They will still have a huge influence over the Democratic party, perhaps even determining its next presidential nominee. But they will seem increasingly unattractive to most moderate and even many normally Democratic voters who never really adopted outrage as their dominant public emotion.

In other words, there will be no magic "Aha!" moment that brings the dream palaces down. Even if Saddam's remains are found, even if weapons of mass destruction are displayed, even if Iraq starts to move along a winding, muddled path toward normalcy, no day will come when the enemies of this endeavor turn around and say, "We were wrong. Bush was right." They will just extend their forebodings into a more distant future. Nevertheless, the frame of the debate will shift. The war's opponents will lose self-confidence and vitality. And they will backtrack. They will claim that they always accepted certain realities, which, in fact, they rejected only months ago...
That is the raw and real David Brooks, boys and girls.  That is what it looks like when he feels the coast is finally clear and it's safe to take off his mask of civility and use his media platform to kick the living shit out of people like you and me.  By the way and for the record. here is Mr, Brooks after his fantasies collided with reality.  As with Trump, there was no apology.  As with Trump, there was no acknowledgement that he had ever been wrong. Instead there was this great geyser of fantasy, which began with Mr. Brooks denying that he had ever said anything mean or negative about Iraq War critics at all.

Back in the here and now, Mr. Brooks wraps up his column today by wistfully dreaming of a world after Trump,
I miss people thinking about the world outside the gravity field of Trumpian unreality, and about the world after Trump — the world we should be building.
I do not share Mr. Brooks' dream.

Instead I dream of a world where the Republican Party -- that cruel and implacable monster machine that spawned Donald Trump and a thousand other equally toxic and equally depraved Conservative ghouls and hobgoblins -- has been taken apart with an electoral sledgehammer and Chernobyled under 30 feet concrete so that something honorable might one day rise in its place. 

A world that has no time or money or patience for the craven opinions, gold-plated moralizing and great geysers of fantasy of Mr. David Brooks.

Behold, a Tip Jar!


Pagan in repose said...

DFB is truly a waste of a frontal cortex and opposable thumbs. He should turn them over to someone who would use them to a useful outcome, or at least give them up for the betterment of all concerned.

dinthebeast said...

I don't think Fergus' lies are the most dangerous thing about him at all.
See, each Republican administration gets worse than the one before it. When it was Reagan, I didn't think it could get worse, (even Nixon hadn't done the kind of won't-be-repaired-for-a-generation damage that Ronnie did), but then Poppy showed up and pardoned the Reaganite felons and proved me wrong.
The next Republican administration lied us into a war that still rages right now, tortured people, and in general, lowered the bar on what was accepted (not acceptable) in a presidency, which was used as a sort of fucked-up jumping off point for the next Republican to show up.
So now we have Fergus, and what I keep wondering about his administration is what is he enabling the next pack of monsters to do?
Because you know there will be one.

-Doug in Oakland

Lawrence said...

DFB is like a really whacked out version of the old MS Adventure text game. You have to turn left at the Geysers of Fantasy to find the Jewels of Nuance.

And speaking of text based computer games from the dawn of the age, because you and I were both there, that Star Trek one is available in the Windows app store.

Jimbo said...

Simply one of your all-time best take-downs of DFB and Trumpian/GOP dangerous politics. And so on to the tip jar, sir.

Paul said...

Hot damn! Bring it Brother!

Lit3Bolt said...

I have a dream too. A dream where the Mark of the Beast is etched on David Brooks' forehead for eternity, and his right hand is branded with "BOTH" and his left with "SIDES."

This is my dream for a better future.

Neo Tuxedo said...

Actually, you're doing exactly what Our Mr. Brooks says he wants: "thinking about the world outside the gravity field of Trumpian unreality, and about the world after Trump — the world we should be building."

It's just that, since there's actual thinking involved in your case (unlike the prejudice rearrangement that precedes a DFB column), you're thinking that the world after Trump will need to be the world after the Republican Party, and also a world where David Fucking Brooks is doing something that fits his actual skill-set, like begging for cantaloupe rinds and vomiting on people's shoes.

cvmbner said...

“Dream palaces” is a Brooksian concept precisely because it suggests that liberals live in palaces having idle dreams. Before breakfast (or after) I can’t stomach the idea that my desire for adequate healthcare, public education, and civil rights for all is some sort of delusion that I’m having inside my “palace.”

Of course, when you live in the Acela Corridor and your condo is 5,000 square feet with aged steaks in the freezer and a maid service at your disposal, “palace” may be your only point of reference.

jim said...

"Now zen, zese geysers, Herr Brooks - vould zey happen to perhaps be pink?"

Jason said...

With all respect, I actually disagree that DFB was out right insulting to the left. He's obviously sublimating a deep hatred for the left and is completely without a cogent and lucid logical argument about his right wing fuck wit opinions but I don't see him being "rude" or vitriolic here. It doesn't take away his being wrong about the Iraq war and everything else he's ever said and it doesn't take away his unwillingness to take responsibility for his role in cheerleading for said wrongness which is his biggest crime. If the NYT and PBS had any honor, they'd throw his flabby white man ass out for not doing the thing he's hired to do, give cogent, lucid and logical perspective on politics and world events.