Yes, I’m a sap. I believed Obama when he said he wanted to move beyond the stale ideological debates that have paralyzed this country. I always believe that Obama is on the verge of breaking out of the conventional categories and embracing one of the many bipartisan reform packages that are floating around....So the White House has moved away from the Reasonable Man approach or the centrist Clinton approach.It has gone back, as an appreciative Ezra Klein of The Washington Post conceded, to politics as usual. The president is sounding like the Al Gore for President campaign, but without the earth tones. Tax increases for the rich! Protect entitlements! People versus the powerful!
And shitting the bed in spectacular fashion
Yes, this week Mr. David Brooks of The New York Times decided to step forthrightly back onto the stage in the role that made him a star in years gone by: Man Who Sternly Lectures Stoopid Democrats On How Politics Should Be Done.
If you are a longtime reader or possessed of a perversely eidetic memory for such things, you might kinda sorta remember some of Mr. Brooks' more vivid and windbaggish performance of this character, much of which I have already exhaustively documented in this post from 2012, "What Matters is The Work".
There was David Brooks sternly lecturing us crazy, parochialism-on-stilts (and oh how he loved putting everything "on stilts!!" to emphasize how naughtybad we Liberals are) Democrats about how the Bush tax cuts were awesome, how we needed more of them, and how only a parochial idiot on stilts could possibly believe we'd ever face budget deficits again.
The New Stupid Party
There was Brooks' infamous Weekly Standard cover story from 2003 (which was only one of many such venomous rants) in which he announced "now that the war in Iraq is over" normal, patriotic Murricians would canonize George W. Bush as a military genius while us stoopid, terrorist-loving, Murrican-hating Liberal would surely have the decency to admit we were horribly wrong before slinking off to die in shame under a porch somewhere..
Then there was Brooks' full tilt diva hysteria over his very good friend and fellow Likud Party fifth columnist, Holy Joe Lieberman, losing to Ned Lamont in a free and fair Democratic primary. Brooks all but demanded the establishment of a third party -- the McCain/Lieberman party -- to spare him the pain of having to choose between Tom Delay's (remember him!) Republican party and those equally awful "net-roots Delays" on the Left. I wrote all about it here 16 years ago:
Wretched Mole Rat
Suffocates on own dick.
Film at 11:00...
There was David Brooks' filthy little New York Times hit job on Harry Reid entitled "The Harry da Reid Code” which pictured Reid as a conspiracy loon "...alone at his kitchen table at 4 a.m., writing important notes in crayon on the outside of envelopes. It's been four weeks since he launched his personal investigation into the Republican plot to manipulate intelligence to trick the American people into believing Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction."
I wrote all about it here 17 years ago:
BoBo sits alone…
..in his high-chair, at 4 a.m. Rubbing strained beets into his hair and crying for Lost Conservative Daddy to come back and donkey-punch him until he starts acting like a real man...
There was Brooks' insistence that Democrats needed to immediately punt on the agenda that got them elected in 2008 and instead heed the mutterings of all the right-leaning "independents" who mysteriously popped into existence out of thin air just as the Bush administration was collapsing and Republican voters' rabid support for Dubya became a source of acute embarrassment.
I wrote all about it here 13 years ago.
The "Independent" Granfalloon
In which I play a little game with myself trying to predict what piffle David Fucking Brooks will be trafficking tomorrow on MTP as Rachael Maddow puts her Keds up his ass...
And of course all of this huffing and puffing (on stilts!!) was interwoven with all the many, many times that Brooks announced with great fanfare that a mighty Conservative renaissance was just around the corner...or in 2014 when Brooks announced mere months before Trump oozed down the escalator that the Republican Party had cleaned out all of its scary Palinite weirdness and was now awesome and normal again ... or that a Centrist Third Party that fit David Brooks' perversions like a glove would surely be springing up any day now and save us from having to vote for icky Democrats ...of that it was definitely Gonna Be Rubio!
Which brings us at last to this week and Mr. Brooks' return to form as Man Who Sternly Lectures Stoopid Democrats On How Politics Should Be Done.
From The New York Times:
Why on Earth Is Pelosi Supporting the Trumpists?
The moral idiocy of promoting the extremists.
Wow. Sounds bad. "Pelosi" and "moral idiocy" in one word-spurt.
The Democratic Party is behaving recklessly and unpatriotically. So far, Democrats have spent tens of millions to help Trumpist candidates in Republican primaries.
Wow. Sounds even worse. It's not just "Pelosi" but "Democrats" generally who are behaving "recklessly and unpatriotically." It's "Democrats" who have spent "tens of millions to help Trumpist candidates..."
Golly! Tell me more David Brooks!
In the next paragraph...
In Illinois alone, the Democratic Governors Association and Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker spent at least $30 million to attack a Trumpist’s moderate gubernatorial opponent.
Oh. So the lion's share of those "tens of millions" Brooks was shitting himself over "Democrats" spending was actually spent by one guy. My governor. Who, as an actual multibillionaire, certainly had the money to spend and then some. Thanks, Citizens United! And whose ads were mostly of the "Is Darren Bailey Too Conservative For Illinois?" variety. Which was the unvarnished truth and which Republican voters in Illinois sopped up with a biscuit. Bailey luvs guns? And hates 'bortion? Hell fuckin' yeah! Where do I sign up!
And speaking of Darren Bailey and Mr. Brooks' insistence that it is reckless, unpatriotic, sleazy "moral idiocy" for one party to finagling with another party's primaries, Mr. Brooks, allow me to introduce you to something calle Operation Chaos:
From SE Illinois News:
In GOP guv primary, Irvin hits Bailey for his 2008 “Operation Chaos” vote against Clinton, Obama
Darren Bailey says he was with Rush Limbaugh.
In spring 2008, the late conservative radio talk show giant launched what he called “Operation Chaos,” calling upon Republicans in Illinois and elsewhere to help extend the Democrat presidential primary, keeping it competitive by crossing over to vote in it.
Limbaugh said he hoped leading contenders Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton “will be so bloodied and brought down to earth that neither can win in the general.”
He claimed that he inspired more than 100,000 Republicans to cross over and vote in Democrat primaries, "weakening" the two leading candidates, who were in a crowded primary with eight others, including now-President Joe Biden...
So not only is the vast majority of those "tens of millions" that "Democrats" are spending actually only being spent by one guy, it turns out they were spent to boost a right wing crank who has not only approves of interfering in the other party's elections, but was an active and enthusiastic foot soldier in Rush Limbaugh's Operation Chaos army.
And for the record, 538 (which we all know is sketchy, but trust me, I'm from Illinois and this bears out) rates J.B. Pritzker as a 98-to-2 favorite to stomp Darren "Forced Birth No Matter What" Bailey in November.
But before dispatching Brooks once again to the "fuck right off you fucking weasel" darkness, what of his other claims? Where is he getting this plural "Democrats" from? Back to Brooks:
In Pennsylvania, a Democratic campaign spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on ads intended to help a Trumpist candidate win the G.O.P. gubernatorial primary. A political action committee affiliated with Nancy Pelosi worked to boost far-right Republican House candidates in California and Colorado.
So in exactly one other governor's race Josh Mandel ran exactly the same kind of ad strategy that J.B. Pritzker used in Illinois, and that Claire McCaskill successfully deployed against Republicans in 2012.
"There were three viable candidates and Todd Akin was kind of the weirdest one," McCaskill said. "I knew he might say some weird things if he were nominated. And he had less money, so we took a poll and figured out what Republican voters would really like about him."
McCaskill put her name on the ads, as is required for political advertising, but casual viewers may not have realized they were paid for by a Democrat.
For most of the primary season, Akin had been behind in the polls. But he surged in the last two weeks of the campaign as McCaskill's ads aired across Missouri. He ended up winning the primary, then losing handily to McCaskill in the general election.
In California, it's not "Pelosi" but a "political action committee affiliated with Nancy Pelosi" that spent a few bucks trying to boost GOP crackpot Chris Mathys over his more moderate competitor in CA-2s, but Mathys ended up losing anyway. So there's that.
And in Colorado, in the one other race where Dems dropped a few dollars to boost a nutjob, they did exactly the same thing.
They stated Ron Hanks' record. Period. And the Republican voters in that district ate it up. And what does Greg Brophy, a GOP strategist and former Colorado state legislator, think of that strategy?
Beating Hanks in the general election is a layup... If Democrats spend $1 million to help Hanks win the GOP primary, that will save them $20 million in the general. It’s actually brilliant.
Because these are not "reckless" or "unpatriotic" amateurs. These are grown-up political pragmatists who are on the ground, who know their states and districts and are doing what they believe is necessary to give them the best chance of winning. Which, as we know, is something utterly horrifies David "I'm a Sap!" Brooks. But only when Democrats do it.
So let's look again at Brooks' pluralization of "Democrats". Using this trademark lazy pundit locution to imply that this is some kookie and widespread phenomenon embraced by the moral imbeciles of the Democratic party. Except this is only happening in exactly four-count-'em-four races.
So let's do the math.
There are 435 seats in the House of Representatives, so that's 435 primaries.
Add in the 34 seats that are up for grabs in the Senate, and that comes to a total of 469 national elections.
Add in 50 gubernatorial elections, and that brings us to 519 races. There are also roughly 5,400 state house elections happening this year, and somewhere between 1,500 to 2000 state senate elections. Plus an untold numbers of aldercritters and councilpersons, but since national congressional and gubernatorial races are what Mr. Brooks is having hot fantods over, stick with that number. 519.
Now what percentage of 519 is 4? I'll spare you the figuring. It's 0.77%
So while it is technically true in a sleazoid Brooksian pundit kinda way that Democrats are doing this stuff, it is very much more true that only 0.77% of Democrats are doing this stuff. Or, to be more writerly, less than 1% of Democrats. Or, to be more writerly still and perfectly accurate, 99.23% of Democrats are not doing any of this stuff.
Now let's do a comparable word problem, but instead of Democrats, let's use Republicans and see what that gets us.
In the U.S. House of Representative there are currently 212 Republicans. Of those, there are two and only two, who are actively trying to hold Donald Trump and his goon squad accountable for the violent Republican attempted coup. All the others are either rabid Trump enablers, passive Trump enablers, or cowards trying desperately to change the subject. And they are all fucking awful.
Now what percentage of 212 is 2? I'll spare you the figuring. It's 0.94%.
So while it is would be technically true (in a sleazoid Brooksian pundit kinda way) that House Republicans (plural) are dedicated to holding Trump accountable regardless of the political cost, it is very much more true that only 0.94% of House Republicans are dedicated to holding Trump accountable regardless of the political cost Or, to be more writerly, less than 1% of House Republicans. Or, to be more writerly still and perfectly accurate, 99.06% of House Republicans are either rabid Trump enablers, passive Trump enablers, or cowards trying desperately to change the subject. And they are all fucking awful.
Aren't statistics fun!
However (getting back to Brooks' shitty column) writing about what the overwhelming majority of Democrats actually are saying and are doing and are spending their money on isn't what they teach you at Conservative Pundit School. And it doesn't sell papers, drive clicks or churn up "engagement" via social media outrage. And so we get:
The Democratic Party is behaving recklessly and unpatriotically. So far, Democrats have spent tens of millions to help Trumpist candidates in Republican primaries.
And as with all such bad-faith Brooks editorial extrusions, all of his indignant puffery and foot-stamping are just a delivery system for the real snake oil he is trying to sell. For the ideological razor in the apple. The
Indignant puffery like this:
Many Democrats, living in their own information bubble and apparently having learned nothing from 2016, do not seem to understand the horrific electoral landscape they are facing.
Fuck you very much, Mr, David "Don't Worry. It's Gonna Be Rubio!!" Brooks.
And fuck you all over again Mr. David "The Women's March Was an Indulgent, Frivolous Waste of Time" Brooks.
You thought we forgot that one? Not bloody likely. So given your virtually unbroken record of being wrong about everything, and the Acela-corridor pundit bubble in which you exist, you can just shut your hole forever about what Democrats do and do not seem to understand.
How about a little more indignant puffery:
Similarly, many progressives argued that cancel culture wasn’t a thing or was being severely exaggerated. Americans who are afraid to think out loud think the left has become too censorious, and the Democratic Party once again is held guilty by association.
Americans who are afraid to think out loud...like good, ol' Joey Tabula Rasa? You thought we forgot that one? Not bloody likely. Brooks has always leaned heavily on claims that he was possessed of Sekrit Magical Insights into various groups of Americans which no one else has. And Brooks has always been wrong.
And these stats which Mr. Brooks unwisely added to his column also bear closer examination:
The Republican Party has grown pretty extreme over the past few years. But it’s important to remember Americans believe that the Democratic Party has grown extreme, too. According to a CNN survey, 46 percent of Americans believe the G.O.P. is “too extreme” and 48 percent believe the Democratic Party is “too extreme.”...
I’ve had a recurring mystification over the past six years: How is it possible that Democrats are not crushing these guys?
Oh come on, Mr. Brooks, you are being much too modest here. In fact, if I had the ability to haul you up on stage and force you to take a bow for this, I would most certainly do so. And here is a little riddle I wrote 16 years ago that will help explain what I mean:
So Dick Cheney is found, naked, on the White House lawn tossing burning kittens at homeless veterans and hitting babies with a ball-peen hammer.
What are the first three words out of David Brooks’ mouth?
“But the Democrats!”
Because what you are seeing in these numbers, Mr. Brooks, is the triumph of your Beltway Cult of Both Sides Do It: a cult over which you have presided for 20 years as its pope.
A cult which has relentlessly pounded the message home to the American public that every Republican atrocity must somehow be the fault of Both Sides. Or, if the blame for any specific atrocity cannot be warped into an indictment of Both Sides...you and your cult have trained the general public to automatically assume that out there somewhere there must be some pack of godless Lefties doing something equally awful.
It's "But Her Emails"! On stilts!
Of course a large chunk of that percentage that believes the Democratic party is "too extreme" are the bigots and imbeciles of the GOP base whose minds have been pureed to bilious mush by decades of Fox News and Hate Radio. But responsibility for some very number of those tragically misguided mopes is entirely on you and your fellow Beltway cultists. You who have groomed that segment of the public that wants to feel smart, but doesn't wanna get involved or hear the details. Who just want to float lazily above it all, reflexively poxing both political houses with the biggest ig Lie of them all.
Those crazies could be running the country in a few years.
Mr. Brooks, these crazies have been nurtured, flattered, cultivated and harvested for their money and their votes by your former party for decades. And these crazies did run the country from 2017 until 2021. And yet during all the time they were taking over your party one step at a time, in plain sight, all you ever found the energy to do was bitch about Harry Reid opining about Bush's Iraqi Clusterfuck, whine about the unpatriotic Left for opposing Bush's Iraqi Clusterfuck, screech about Barack Obama for being a political realist and, of course, rage against terrible threat from us "net roots Delays".
So now that we have dispensed with all of Mr. Brooks' mendacious hand-waving and chaff-tossing we arrive at the ideological razor in Mr. Brooks' apple. What is his actual point?
If you love your country more than your party, you should want the best candidates to advance in either party. And in these circumstances, what they are doing is insane: The far-right candidates whom Democrats are supporting could easily wind up winning.
And there it is.
First, Mr. Brooks, as you fucking well know, your former party, as an institution, is an irredeemable fascist shitpile. And from the root to the fruit, with a few, rare-as-Astatine exceptions there are no good Republicans anymore. If you are a Republican, you are the problem.. If you vote Republican, you are the problem. If you campaign for or send money to or otherwise support Republicans, then you are the problem.
Period. Full stop.
So the outcome of a single House election in Colorado will not alter in the slightest the overall trajectory of the fascist Republican party, or the fallout if Republicans win the House. Every Republican in the House, whether they're standard-issue Republican crazy or Gohmert/Greene bugfuck crazy, amounts to nothing more than one more vote for a Kevin McCarthy speakership. Or worse.
And a fascist chairing every House committee.
Because in case you hadn't noticed, from sea to shining sea, your former party is doing a bangup job of climbing over themselves --
Twitter reacts to the pure insanity that was Arizona's Republican primary for governor debate
"I feel like I'm in an SNL skit."
-- to see who can be the king of Bull Goose Loony Mountain --
🤣🤣🤣 If u thought WY GOP primary debate was crazy, AZ said "hold my beer"! UFO's! Stolen Elections! "I'm Italian so ..." https://t.co/PWB5khl8jb— Cheryl McGill (@cheryltruth42) July 2, 2022
-- all by themselves, with no Democratic assistance at all:
Cheney's Jan. 6 committee spotlight burns her in Wyoming primary
Rep. Liz Cheney took on Donald Trump and voted to impeach and investigate him. Back home, polls suggest she's trailing his chosen challenger.
Finally, and most importantly, for Mr. Brooks and all the Never Trumpers I know damn well read this blog, curating the political hygiene of the Republican party is not my goddamn job. It is not the responsibility of Joe Biden or Jesus Christ of the Democrat party. That job is and always has been the exclusive responsibility of Republicans. Specifically, Republican leaders and influencers like [checks notes] you David Brooks.
And who knows?
If you and your fellow pundits and Beltway insiders hadn't spent your entire professional lives slandering Liberals over nonsense and navel-gazing about the glories of an entirely imaginary Republican Party while the actual Republican party was running off the cliff, things might have been different.
But things are what they are. Your former party is now a fully-fascist cult of personality, and we who have been in the trenches for decades warning that this day was coming and being dismissed as crackpot alarmists ran out of patience with your toxic, Both Siderist claptrap long ago.
PS. This post runs to over 3,800 words and took me a couple of days to assemble, so I'm going to take a little breather. A happy and safe July 4th to you all.
UPDATE: Jeet Heer wants to be Brooks 2.0 so bad you can smell it:
Why Centrist Democrats Love Promoting Right-Wing Extremists
Having nothing of substance to offer, the party establishment thinks supporting Trumpists is a clever move. But they are playing with fire.