Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother's eye.
-- Luke 6:42
Sometimes I wish blogging weren't dead.
Because some days, terrible forces conspire to catapult into my little world a confection of hubris and sanctimonious duplicity so rich and bacon-wrapped that I just can't resist taking at least a little bite.
I always feel durdee afterwards, but I just can't seem to stop myself.
So imagine by horrified delight when eleven minor demons stood on each other's shoulders just so they could reach my transom, through which they flung into my lap an entire column by David Brooks on the importance of
A) Important People admitting when they have made a mistake, andB) Smelly Peasants not mocking their betters when such mistakes are made.
There goes the diet.
On one level, even after carefully reading and rigorously rebutting David Brooks' columns for a decade, every now and then I am still caught off guard by David Brooks' ability to astonish me with the sheer breadth of his hypocrisy.
On another, more pounded-down-by-the-world level, I am not surprised at all that today Mr. Brooks red-lined the Beltway Indignation Generator in an effort to balloon what's happening to Brian "Born on a mountain in Tennessee/ Greenest state in the land of the free/ Raised in the woods so's he knew every tree/ He kilt him a b'ar when he was only three" Williams into a general-quarters alarm over Teh Barbaric and Snarky Internet that wants to hold people accountable for stuff (some additional text added for context):
I’ve only spoken with Williams a few times, and can’t really speak about the man (though I often appear on NBC News’s [moldering corpse of a real news program] “Meet the Press”), but I do think we’d all be better off if we reacted to these sorts of scandals in a different way. The civic fabric would be stronger if, instead of trying to sever relationships with those who have done wrong, we tried to repair them, if we tried forgiveness instead of exiling.
This, according to Mr. Brooks, is what happens every time anyone of note does or says anything even minimally offensive:
"The offender issues a paltry half-apology, which only inflames the public more. The pounding cry for resignation builds until capitulation comes."
And in mounting that Very High Horse and riding to the aid of another beleaguered multimillionaire, in addition to his column's many other offenses against honor and honesty, Mr. Brooks fails at the most minimal standards of his own profession by refusing to cite even one other example besides Brian Williams to justify his asinine thesis that his gated media community is being overrun by a flood internet popinjays and ruffians.
Instead, in order to rationalize this latest Terrible Internet Incivility Crisis, Mr. Brooks makes an abrupt, gargantuan and hilarious leap from this being about a member of his own caste -- that tiny, tiny subset of wealthy and famous people in America whose job description involves being in front of a camera or behind a microphone and telling the public something which he or she purports to be the truth -- to this somehow being about every famous person on planet Earth.
By now, the script is familiar: Some famous person does something wrong...
I mean, even though I am a wretched internet barbarian and even though Mr. Brooks exists so far above me in the media pecking order that, statistically, I do not exist, I will not be following Mr. Brooks down his ridiculous rabbit hole today.
Instead, I am going to wonder aloud about the more obvious and salinet question which Mr. Brooks -- passed out as he is on the Terrible Internet Incivility fainting couch -- is in no fit shape to answer: even within that tiny, tiny subset of wealthy and famous people of Mr. Brooks' caste, who the fuck could he possibly be talking about about about?
Because I have never, ever see this "coliseum culture" of which he speaks --
The barbaric part is the way we respond to scandal these days. When somebody violates a public trust, we try to purge and ostracize him. A sort of coliseum culture takes over, leaving no place for mercy. By now, the script is familiar: Some famous person does something wrong. The Internet, the most impersonal of mediums, erupts with contempt and mockery. The offender issues a paltry half-apology, which only inflames the public more. The pounding cry for resignation builds until capitulation comes. Public passion is spent and the spotlight moves on.
-- when unrepentant monsters like Newt Gingrich are welcomed back onto teevee over and over again without penalty.
And I certainly haven't noticed notorious liar Joe Scarborough's career suffering any slings and arrows of professionally inconvenient accountability.
And in case you weren't paying attention, Mr. Brooks, NBC did not give your close friend David Gregory his walking papers because he spent his tenure at "Meet the Press" groveling for Conservative's approval by letting them get away with murder on his show. He was fired for letting his ratings drop below the midday crop report, and was replaced by someone constructed from the a cheaper brand of the same materials who explicitly believes he should not press Republicans when they lie to his face.
Sure, I could name half a dozen Liberal news-and-comment types on radio and teevee who have been pushed or flogged out of a job for saying or doing being something untoward, but when was the last time an otherwise decent, straight-shooting Conservative has been shown the door for saying something dumb on the air?
Hell when was the last time anyone has seen an otherwise decent, straight-shooting Conservative behind a microphone or in front of a camera anywhere? Because from Day One, Roger Ailes' entire business plan has been based of the premeditated, serial mutilation of the truth, all day, every day, and I don't hear anyone in Mr. Brooks' caste demanding "Confession and Penitence" from anyone on Fox News.
And this is because -- and this is important -- David Brooks is not writing this column for you or for me or for anyone we know.
He is writing it for the several thousand members of the Beltway Club who still go to bed at night a little worried that someday, somehow, someone might show up and demand that they be publicly brought to book for the shit they said and did back when it looked like the Age of Dubya would last forever and so nothing they said, no matter how loathsome or disgraceful or false would ever come back to haunt them.
But the Age of Dubya did come crashing down. And ever since then our Beltway Media -- led by Bush Regime cheerleaders and dead-enders like David Brooks -- has adopted a strategy of locking arms in a unified Confederacy of Denial. Knowing, as Ben Franklin said in an entirely different context, that if they did not all hang together, they would most assuredly all hang separately.
As I and a handful of despised outsiders have documented over and over again for years, the Beltway establishment has been remarkably successful in killing any attempt to hold anyone accountable for anything under layer upon layer of smothering revisionism, lies and "Both Sides Are To Blame".
Here, Mr. Brooks demonstrates that the massive slabs of hammered bullshit under which he and others like him have entombed the truth are now so strong that he can stomp around on them in the perfect certainty it will no easily hold his weight -- that he can dance on the grave of journalistic integrity and not a single professional Beltway journalist will raise the slightest objection.
I have already written more regularly and comprehensively about David Brooks that anyone one the internet, so I have little to add to the enormous body of work I have already produced.
But I can't resist juxtaposing just a few lines out from this latest, stale sermonette from America's most pecksniffian Pharisee...
...next to the history of the actual David Brooks.
Forgiveness is often spoken of in sentimental terms — as gushy absolution for everything, regardless of right or wrong. But many writers — ranging from Hannah Arendt and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to modern figures like Jeffrie Murphy and L. Gregory Jones — have tried to think hard about rigorous forgiveness, which balances accountability with compassion.
David Brooks has never once been held to account for any of the horrid shit he has written to build his career and make himself wealthy -- from sleazy, pro-Bush hippie-punching to lazy Both Siderist Whig fan fiction passed off as truth.
Pre-emptive mercy. Martin Luther King Jr. argued that forgiveness isn’t an act; it’s an attitude. We are all sinners. We expect sin, empathize with sin and are slow to think ourselves superior...
Approximately every third David Brooks column is a stern lecture to "disordered families", denizens of the "children's table" and various internet barbarians to shut the fuck up and heed their imaginary betters, all of whom happen to agree with David Brooks.
Judgment. A wrong is an occasion to re-evaluate. What is the character of the person in question? Should a period of stupidity eclipse a record of decency?
It’s also an occasion to investigate each unique circumstance, the nature of each sin that was committed and the implied remedy to that sin. Some sins, like anger and lust, are like wild beasts. They have to be fought through habits of restraint. Some sins like bigotry are like stains.... Some, like adultery, are more like treason than like crime ... Some sins like vanity — Williams’s sin — can only be treated by extreme self-abasement...
At no point has anyone caught sight of David Brooks re-evaluated any of the horrid shit he has written to build his career and make himself wealthy -- from sleazy, pro-Bush hippie-punching to lazy Both Siderist Whig fan fiction passed off as truth. If he has ever engaged in any acts of self-abasement -- extreme or otherwise -- they must have been done in secret. Possibly with the assistance of a Leona Helmsley lookalike who charges a thousand dollars for the service.
And most astonishing of all, the man who made his bones pimping the biggest economic and foreign policy debacles in modern history and slandering people like you and me along the way said this. The man who glibly slid into a job for life at the New York Times once all that he had evangelized came tragedy and ruin and who has been acting ever since as if none of it ever fucking happened said this (emphasis added):
Confession and Penitence. At some point the offender has to get out in front of the process, being more self-critical than anyone else around him. He has to probe down to the root of his error, offer a confession more complete than expected. He has to put public reputation and career on the back burner and come up with a course that will move him toward his own emotional and spiritual recovery...
For those of you who have never seen it, here is a video I shot of Mr. Brooks, live, in 2010. The man who has been fighting madly for 20 years to positioned himself as America's Reproachiest Voice of Civic Morality was at the Hammerschmidt Chapel in Elmhurst, Illinos, lecturing on Reinhold Niebhur and morality.
At the nd of his remarks, during the Q and A, someone asked him to reconcile his belief if accountability and repentance with all the horrid shit he had written to build his career and make himself wealthy. To perhaps live up to all the stuff he had just said by, y'know, being more self-critical than anyone else around him.
And America's Reproachiest Voice of Civic Morality stood there in the pulpit and lied.
I used to think things like facts and history might budge the needle slightly in the direction of forcing our Beltway media to come clean about what they have put this country through over the last 20 years.
I no longer think that.