Monday, July 28, 2014

Breaking! Both Sides Don't: Special David Brooks Edition

Longtime readers know that, ever since the collapse of the very profitable "Blame The Hippies for Bad News About Iraq" scam, David Brooks has scrambled to make himself the master of the "Both Sides Do It" scam.

And honestly, while there are a lot of contenders for the title clogging up our national arteries, no one does it better than Brooks.

Over the last decade, on issue after issue, Mr. Brooks has maintained such a monomaniacal fealty to bisecting every single fucking issue no matter what into two-sides, both equally wrong, that his "style" is now so far beyond far beyond parody...that it has become a recognizable form of mental illness... too can learn to write a New York Times Opinion Page Editorial just like America's Last Reasonable Conservative, David Brooks!

In just 10 Easy Steps you'll be punditting like a pro!
1) Pick a subject. Any subject. From Tasseled Loafers to Torture, it literally does not matter.

2) Quote extensively from one person or group on the subject. It's OK to just more-or-less copy and paste in big hunks of what whatever-you-happen-to-be-reading-at-the-moment to flesh out your 800-word column. Here at the Times we call that "research"!

3) Quote from some other person or group on the same subject who appears to hold a different opinion. If no actual opposition exists, just put on your Magic Green Jacket and invent an opposing opinion.

4) Although such is not the case with today's subject, as often as possible, try to impute these fictional distinctions to the different hemispheres of the political Universe. So no matter how bigoted, reckless or just bugfuck crazy the Right behaves, you just go right ahead and blandly assert with no supporting evidence whatsoever that the Left is equally and oppositely bad in exactly the same qualities and quantities. Here at the Times we call that "seriousness"!

5) Discover in your final paragraph or two that -- amazingly! -- the precise midpoint between those two completely artificial positions on an imaginary spectrum just happens to be exactly the Right and Reasonable answer!

Oh boy!

6) Rinse and repeat. No matter what the subject, no matter how false or bizarre the equivalence, just rinse and repeat. Twice a week.

7) Every week.

8) Year.

9) After year.

10) After year.
Long ago this stopped being a "style", and started being a fetish, Mr. Brooks

It's called "Asymmetriphobia": a horror of asymmetrical things.

Seek help.
From child sexual assault, to partisan gridlock, to the war in Iraq --
The Fog Over Iraq
Published: January 11, 2007

If the Democrats don’t like the U.S. policy on Iraq over the next six months, they have themselves partly to blame. There were millions of disaffected Republicans and independents ready to coalesce around some alternative way forward, but the Democrats never came up with anything remotely serious...
-- David Brooks has methodically remade his career into a game of mindlessly parsing every single fucking issue into two sides.

Both equally wrong.

Every time.


Except, as it turns out, this is not 100% true.  There is, in fact, one issue on which David Brooks comes down squarely on the "One Side Right/ One Side Wrong" camp.

And that one issue is... (emphasis added):
HARI SREENIVASAN: What about his idea that the power of social media affecting perception? Has the political perception about this conflict shifted at all with the onslaught of images that we have all seen, whether it’s from one side or the other?

Well, clearly, if you — if you measure things by body counts, then Israel has killed more, and so they look more vicious. And the people who are inclined to think poorly of Israel are hopping on that. I guess I’m more inclined to think positively of Israel. And I would say the moral calculus is not particularly even, that Hamas — and there’s been tons of media reporting on this — has put the site of the origin of the tunnels under hospitals in a dense residential area.

The missiles are being shot from dense residential areas. They’re inviting civilian casualties by what is clearly an immoral way of waging war, and that they’re — if you take into account, the moral calculus is uneven.

Is that the calculus that is accepted in the European press? No, of course not. And so Israel has faced this barrage of criticism, not from the American administration and not from some of the surprising people in the region, as I mentioned, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, among others.

But, at some point, you can’t govern by popularity. If you have got people mis — bombing you, if you have got all these missiles which cost a million dollars each to build, you have simply got to take care of those tunnels...


Jason Salvo said...

Actually, I would contend that this IS a DB equivalency trick.

First, he says Israel has killed more. But then says Hamas is also to blame because they don't have military bases and are launching military strikes from residential areas.

The only difference is he doesn't say "Both sides share some of the blame," he says "the moral calculus is uneven" - Meaning Hamas is MORE to blame.

Why? Because Hamas doesn't have the supplies to create multi-million dollar military facilities in a blockaded and heavily impoverished area - FORCING Israel to kill civilians by bombing residential areas.

RockDots said...

Then on Meet the Gregory (But Not For Long), there was this exchange, wherein our hero for the life of him can't seem to name WHY America is so polarized:


One of the things, David, that I see, and I talk to people around the country, is that until the incentives are changed, a desire for some compromise or even meeting challenges that Americans want dealt with, will not get done. Because nobody will give the other side even a small win in this climate.


I used to think the problem was Washington, I now think the problem is the country. The country is polarized. The people actually in the states have become more polarized.

RockDots said...

I see you've already covered it. Well that'll teach me to read your posts in reverse-chrono order!

Jon Rudd said...

Brooks et al are evidently taking advantage of widespread ignorance among the US public about the geography of the situation. The Gaza Strip is about as big as Wayne County Michigan. It contains some 1.8 million people. There's really no place for anyone to go whether their intentions are peaceful or warlike. For the Israelis it's like shooting fish in a barrel. They know this. The Palestinians certainly know this. In fact, just about everyone outside the US is aware of the basic geographical realities. The majority of the American people
don't know squat,mainly because they aren't intended to know.

steeve said...

I think there's now another way to write a Brooks column.

Pick a positive, inoffensive, and utterly obvious assertion, like Bunnies Are Soft.

Expand on it a bit.

Pretend that conservatism has something to do with it.

Have your assistant forward positive comments to you, since this time there'll be some: "What you write is correct and true, o learned opinionator sir."

Robt said...

"Both sides do it? Let me see?
On President Obama's inauguration
---Senate Minority Leader (R)Mitch McConnell said, " His / the republican party;s number one goal was to make Obama a one term President".
---Republican Governors and GOP controlled state houses passing legislation to suppress the vote in these states.
---5 conservative SCOTUS justices vote to gut part of the Civil Rights Act. Just like the other $ SCOTUS Justices that voted tin opposition?

---Using tax payer dollars to funnel money to lobbyist/lawyers to sue the President over his extreme dictatorial over abuse of Executive orders.
Obama used less than GW (and GW had a ideological party House and Senate that gave him everything.
The other side was going to impeach Nixon.
W nominated his secretary to the Supreme Court, Clinton nominated Ginsberg.
The same--------------!
Cheny Water boards prisoners and calls it Enhanced interrogation, while Biden speaks gaffs to his captive audiences.
---One side has legitimate rape and the other side says Rape is rape!

---One side gives weight to science and the ither side denies science.

But wait, wait ,,
There is a revolving door from Government to lobbyist--Both sides do this,
Both sides have had poor character-ed people who became corrupt.
Bit that is not at all that I see Brooks comparing.
Brooks is trying to provide camoflage for his party out of ideology.
This is supposed to be an honorable thing. You know, like when Southerners did the honorable thing (in their minds) to secede and fight a civil war. You know, the honorable thing that assures your elitism and control and powerful comfort.

Dan said...

Bobo butthole Brooks doesn't concern himself with rigid details.
Why should he trouble himself with fanatical religious nuttballs that demand this or that land is THEIRS!
No they can't share goddamnit!
Not that we shared with native Americans but nothing religious about that other than all of it.
But why should Buttholio Brooks trouble himself? Maybe if they stopped killing each other and smoked pot.

Anonymous said...

Dave M sez

Both Sides Don't
Both Sides Don't
Both Sides Do-on't
But I do

(But I do)


Robt said...

I cannot remember the title of the Brooks article, but he was contending that Democracy is not working. That,
"other countries like Taiwan had a strong elite ruling class with little Government benefits and it's education system performed better than the U.S.A."
Then went on to say,
" that America needs to get a group of the elite and let them sit down and come up with a changes with Bi-Partisanship agreements. Which Americans will have to live to OBEY."

Not sure if Brooks has ran this by his conservative open carry shoot anything that moves if it scares you crowd.
I can say, Brooks reminds me of some of the old Sci-Fi stories where some backyard backwoods man comes to believe he is a professor of something and will figure what it is later. But has some wild plot where it will give him control over everyone and only then, will Eden be resurrected.

One of those,
Like GW Bush said, (para phrase)
It would be a lot easier if this were a dictatorship, as long as I am the dictator.