Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Sad Bastard Divorce Chronicles of David Brooks

Chapter 37: I Did It All For You, Sarah!

If some strident Liberal blogger from the wrong side of the Acela corridor tracks were to cruelly snip and paste and very lightly decontextualize excepts from Mr. David Brooks' column in the New York Times today, I would wager that the average bright American human would have no fucking idea what the holy hell Mr. Brooks was writing about.

In fact, one could make an excellent case that Mr. Brooks was taking time off from using his column to beg for his job in order to use his column to tell his ex-wife that while Mr, Brooks may be a cold fish, he only got that way because he was working so fucking hard to make you happy, Sarah, and give you everything you ever wanted!

Or maybe not.

You be the judge:

Brooks writes of a career which "appears, from the outside, to be all consuming."

Of "...friendships [which] appear to have been formed at networking gatherings reserved for the extremely successful." 

A few on the inside describe a person who is "warm and caring...[b]ut it’s hard from the outside to think of any non-career or pre-career aspect..." .

Years of hard work at preaching the Gospel of Both Siderism have made him "...less like a human being and more like an avatar from some corporate brand."

But why did Mr. Brooks end up this way? Because, damn it, he cared too damn much!
Workaholism is a form of emotional self-estrangement. Workaholics are so consumed by their professional activities that their feelings don’t inform their most fundamental decisions. The professional role comes to dominate the personality and encroaches on the normal intimacies of the soul. As Martyn Lloyd-Jones once put it, whole cemeteries could be filled with the sad tombstone: “Born a man, died a doctor.”
There’s a larger lesson here, especially for people who have found a career and vocation that feels fulfilling. Even a socially good vocation can swallow you up and make you lose a sense of your own voice. Maybe it’s doubly important that people with fulfilling vocations develop, and be seen to develop, sanctuaries outside them: in play, solitude, family, faith, hobbies and leisure.
My God, Mr. Brooks even gave up his Sundays to give  those stupid TED talks and collect tributes at The Aspen Institute and appear on "Meet the Press" with his close personal friend David Gregory just so he could put food on the table and a $4M roof over his family's head. And this is the thanks I get, Sarah! A letter from some "M" Street lawyer telling me it's over!
Abraham Joshua Heschel wrote that the Sabbath is “a palace in time which we build.” It’s not a day of rest before work; you work in order to experience this day of elevation. Josef Pieper wrote that leisure is not an activity, it’s an attitude of mind. It’s stepping outside strenuous effort and creating enough stillness so that it becomes possible to contemplate and enjoy things as they are.
What do you know about getting up at five o'clock in t'morning to fly to Paris... back at the Old Vic for drinks at twelve, sweating the day through press interviews, television interviews and getting back here at ten to wrestle with the problem of a homosexual nymphomaniac drug-addict involved in the ritual murder of a well known Scottish footballer. That's a full working day, Sarah, and don't you forget it!

So, if Mr. Brooks is not making the public case that he is not a monster, but just another hard working 1950s husband who stayed too long at the office and came home one day to find Mrs. Draper gone, what in the holy hell is he writing about?

Believe it or not, he is writing about Hillary Clinton.
Why Is Clinton Disliked?
Wow.  In other words, to quote the late Sam Kinison in "Back to School":
So why don't we dive right in by interpreting one of the easiest events in the last twenty years of American history.
Oh!  Oh!  Oh!  I know!  I know!  Call on me!

I'll bet a lot of it as to do with 25 years of unrelenting Clinton ratfucking by our nation's lavishly financed Conservative Hate Machine.  Radio.  Teevee.  Movies.  Magazines.  Newspapers.  Whole libraries of wall-to-wall slander, such as that owned and proudly displayed by Travis County, Texas' Republican Party chairman, Trump fanboy and full-time lunatic, Robert Morrow:

The Conservative Hate Machine has been wildly successful at producing tens of millions of infinitely reprogammable Republican meatheads whose opinions on any given subject can be flipped off and on like a light-switch.  So I'll bet a big chunk of Hillary Hate has a lot to do with the fact that the GOP is stuffed with madmen like Robert Morrow.

Another few percentage points can probably be chalked up to the fact that free-floating misogyny is still alive and well in the American polity.  And another few points are certainly due to professional Hillary Haters like Andrew Sullivan, Worse Than Bush! purity angels like the Greenwald Horde, and some number of Bernie-or-Busters whose "Live for the One, Die for the One" faith --

-- demands a corollary belief  that all opponents are Enemies who are a thousand feet tall and Irredeemably Evil.

So when I add all that up, I get a number that seems pretty close to Hillary Clinton's current disapproval rating.

Ah, but David Brooks does not live in the same world and you and I.  As I have mentioned over the years more times than is polite, Mr. Brooks lives in a fantasy world constructed out of his obsessive contempt for the Real World as it really is and his own, pathological denialism about his own past.  A world in which Mr. Brooks' prosperity is directly tied to his lies, and therefor as the Real World keeps pissing all over his Whig Fan Fiction universe...
...the more operatic those lies become -- such as his complete revision of the entire history of Conservatism to infuse it with a genteel, communitarian spirit that never was and to omit all the inconveniently icky stuff that actually turned it into a cultural and electoral force to be reckoned with...
And so Mr. Brooks -- a University of Chicago baccalaureate in History -- opts to simply skip over the last quarter of a century of American political history and focus on the real reason people don't like Hillary Clinton:
I would begin my explanation with this question: Can you tell me what Hillary Clinton does for fun? We know what Obama does for fun — golf, basketball, etc. We know, unfortunately, what Trump does for fun.

But when people talk about Clinton, they tend to talk of her exclusively in professional terms...
Yes, people don't like Hillary because they don't know what she does for fun.

No, I did not make this up.

And why is knowing the intimate details of Hillary Clinton's hobbies so this important?

Because these kids today with their Walkman portable cassette players and disco dance parties and their Twitters just don't "dig" this hard-working, service-oriented "rap" that Hillary is laying down!
This formal, career-oriented persona puts her in direct contrast with the mores of the social media age, which is intimate, personalist, revealing, trusting and vulnerable. It puts her in conflict with most people’s lived experience. Most Americans feel more vivid and alive outside the work experience than within...
Yes, David Brooks wrote that.  In fact, David Brooks was paid a shit-ton of American money to write that.  David Brooks, who less that a month ago was finally forced to admit that he does not have the slightest fucking idea what is going on outside of his elite, Acela corridor bubble --
I was surprised by Trump’s success because I’ve slipped into a bad pattern, spending large chunks of my life in the bourgeois strata — in professional circles with people with similar status and demographics to my own. It takes an act of will to rip yourself out of that and go where you feel least comfortable. But this column is going to try to do that over the next months and years.
-- has fallen completely off the "I swear I've learned my lesson!" wagon and back into the enormously profitable business of telling lies in condescending, authoritative, Ex Cathedra language about "most people's lived experience" what "Most Americans feel...".

In other words...

PS:  Several others are making what they can of the loose stool Mr. Brooks' passed off as journalism today.

Yastreblyansky takes the scholarly approach

Brother Charles Pierce has a little too much fun pulling Mr. Brooks' arm off and beating Jonah Goldberg to his knees with it.  So, y'know, win-win.

Jezebel uses the "W" word.

Salon just reprints paragraphs of Brooks' column for some reason.

Wonkette doing that Wonkette thing,

Vox, which doesn't include any bar charts so I was confused.

On the other hand, innocuous Beltway folding chair, John Harwood, thinks that Mr. Brooks' column is "valuable", so what do I know?


Bob M said...

Fun, yet another subject David Brooks should never write about. David Brooks and Fun are a variant of Schrodinger's Cat thought experiment - open the box you have either Fun or David Brooks. They do not, can not both exist at the same time in the Universe.

Neo Tuxedo said...

Chief, I regret to put before you that you forgot to link to the Wonkette piece; it was a second copy of the Salon link.

driftglass said...

Link fixed.

RUKidding said...

Yeesh. Not the biggest Clinton fan, but really? Hobbies? THAT's the "problem" with HRC? Geezo. Where can I apply for Brooks' job bc it pays so well, and I could do it better with one arm tied behind my back.

Shit. Clinton is a woman of a certain age who worked her damn ass off to get to where she's gotten. I may disagree with a lot of her policies, but sheesh, it's damned impressive what's she accomplished. This is where rightwingnuts - observing a louche bigoted fool like Trump who was born on third base, uses the mob, hires undocumented workers for pennies on the dollar and still manages to go into bankruptcy numerous times - are oblivious to. But rightwingnuts only truck in fiction. Facts need not apply.

I've known many successful women Clinton's age who climbed various ladders, whether in corporations or law, and most simply didn't have time for hobbies. They just didn't. After working their bums off for 12 or 14 hours per day, they also ran their homes (doing more of the work than most of their husbands did), raised their kids, and then, you know, maybe got to the gym or a movie once in a while.

Hobbies schmobbies. What a douchebag, but sorry for stating the obvious.

What, pray tell, were Carly Fioriana's hobbies, other than her hobby of running for office in a spectacularly FAIL way (much like her spectacular failure as a CEO)? What, pray tell, are Michele Bachman's hobbies, other than being a pig-ignorant whackaloon married to an obviously gay man? I don't even want to contemplate Snowbilly Palin's hobbies, other than meth, booze and throwing backyard brawls with her loser family brood.

I'll stop now. The stupit, it burnz.

steeve said...

"Hillary killed Vince Foster!"
"Hillary is bought by Wall Street!"
"Hillary works too hard!"

I can't even fathom choosing incorrectly from that list when asked "why don't people like Hillary?"

Lit3Bolt said...

Well guys, you know, between the murdering, and drug-running, and pimping out Chelsea for cash, and lesbian flings with aides, and holding down women so Bill could rape them, and selling military grade secrets to the Chinese, Iraqis, Libyans, Yugoslavians, grease-haired big-nosed aviator-sunglass-wearing mobsters, as well as meetings with Hitler's brain, Walt Disney, JFK, MLK, ghosts, aliens, Atlantean psychics, Xenu, and Bat-Boy, I think HRC can hardly find time for any fun hobbies.

Besides, it's so hard getting in and out of that human skin costume, don't you know? Just not worth the trouble. I guess her main hobby is relaxing after a hard day in a vat of bubbling ammonia with a tall cool fetal tissue smoothie.

I know mine is!

who? said...

I do not know or care about what HRC does for fun. Despite this, I do not like her or her husband. I do not like the Clintons for two reasons. First, the Clintons (with the help of their corporate backers) took my Democratic Party and dragged it so far to the right that it is now unrecognisable to me. Second, the Clintons have worked tirelessly to implement middle-class destroying policies. They are pro-war, pro-deregulation, pro-"free trade", pro- Wall Street, pro-incarceration, and pro-"welfare reform".

Unfortunately, I understand the Clinton vision for America all to well. I oppose that vision and I oppose the Clintons.

Approximation Prophet said...

Can I borrow a feelin'?
Could you lend me a jar of love?
Hurtin' hearts need some healin',
Take my hand with your glove of love!

Whaddya say Republicans? Will you marry me...again?

Chan Kobun said...

OH my fucking nonexistent god. Nobody fucking cares how much you hate the Clintons because they aren't your All-Encompassing Fantasy One-Way Ticket To Paradise.

And this goes for both the Bobos of the world AND the Purity Brigade people, both groups of whom let the Clintons, the Obamas, and other Not Pure Enough types live rent-free in their heads all the time.

Bobo, go weep miserably into another pail of premium ice cream while watching your home movies of yourself at every brown-noses-on-parade Beltway shindig and taking long pulls off a bottle of cheap hooch. And may the best doctors in the world hear of your case.

And for the Purer-Than-Thou types, go take another fucking bong rip and go cry into your body pillow. The adults are trying to keep a goddamned madman out of the White House and we don't need your emo garbage.

In both cases, just fucking shut up. The only thing worse than people giving Trump his own no-sales-pitch-required reality show are the people who can't stop bawling about the alternatives to him.

RUKidding has it exactly right - nobody gives a fuck how much you hate HRC; what matters is that we're seeing a level of insanity and inanity that should give everyone pause. HOBBIES?! Give me a fucking break! Women have to work twice as hard for 70% of the pay and none of the respect and - fucking HOBBIES?! AIN'T NOBODY GOT TIME FO' THAT!


Fuck! Alright, incoherent rant over. Please send all complaints to /dev/null.

Q said...

I have left five internet comments in my life, and all of them have been here. Why? Because I can't help but praise driftglass for being so spot on, so fucking pissed, so fucking funny and so goddamn dirty hippie right since the day he started his blog. Thank you for your thankless work, driftglass.

driftglass said...

dev null?
that sonofabitch owes me $5!

Fritz Strand said...

You got to admire the fact that Brooks is a genius of thinking up ever new distractions. 'Her hobbies, that's it! Now where did I leave Cokies' number?'

dinthebeast said...

What Chan Kobun said.

-Doug in Oakland

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