Tuesday, November 08, 2016

David Brooks Cannot Remember What David Brooks Wrote

Of all the institutions that have failed the stress test of this election, none has gone up flames more spectacularly than the American political media.  Sure, some people may say that the meltdown of the Republican Party was worse that the implosion of the punditocracy, but those people are stupid and wrong and you should not listen to them.

It is true that the meltdown of the GOP and the crackup of the media are deeply interrelated phenomena.  However the meltdown of the GOP has come because the base of the party -- bitter, proudly ignorant and often racist old white men who have been marinating in Fox News and Hate Radio bile for decades -- have finally clawed their way out of the Southern Strategy basement lab where "respectable" Conservatives have keeping them for years, and broken out into the open.  The Grand Old Party is falling apart because the true, ugly, raving heart of that party has finally emerged, loud, crazy and unashamed, running naked and amok for all to see.

The corporate media, on the other hand, has gone to pieces precisely because it continues to aggressively deny its true nature.  The Beltway media was never designed to be much more than a Both Siderist pap-machine tarted up to look like "news" in order to sell dick pills and reverse mortgages to aging Boomers.  That's all.  A device to maximize audience share by making sure there was a cast member that each target demographic could identify with: balancing out (for example) Joy Ann Reid and Chris Hayes with Hugh Hewitt and Joe Scarborough in order to aggregating the largest possible number of eyeballs.

The Beltway media is ... an amusement park, staffed with actors dressed up to look like journalists in order to give aging Boomers a titillating-but-ultimately-reassuring ride through the day's headlines on their way to a gift shop stocked with all the dick pills and reverse mortgages they could ever want.
Ans so when when actual news happens -- when the nation is faced with calamities like war, or economic disaster or the most dangerously unhinged candidate to run for president in history -- the amusement park staff freak out, because nowhere in their corporate handbook did anyone ever think to include a contingency plan for evacuating the park and getting everyone to safety just in case one of our two major political parties goes nuts and starts setting fire to the place.

No one would would expect Disneyland's audio-animatronic Lincoln to stride out of the park and start presidenting should we ever face a line-of-succession crisis, and no one should ever expect actual journalism from sock-puppets and hacks likes of Chuck Todd or Joe Scarborough or Mark Halperin.  These are compliant corporate employees and while they clearly have no idea what to do in this crisis, they damn well know what not to do.

And so, as this dumpster fire of an election rages hot enough to warp steel and eat right through the containment unit of the Pretty Hate Machine, the staff of the Beltway amusement park sticks to their fucking scripts no matter what until told to do otherwise by someone higher up the food chain.

The New York Times expunges Frank Luntz's infamous decades-long record of Republican poison-peddling, and gives him his own corner on their op-ed page from which to sell whole casks of Strategic Forgettery and Both Siderism.

Chuck Todd meekly submits to The Gingrich Rules and gives publicly disgraced con man and serial adulterer, Newton Leroy Gingrich, his one hundredth free career do-over on "Meet the Press".

And David Brooks.  Oh my goodness, David Fucking Brooks...

First comes the obligatory wailing and rending of garments over the horrible horribleness of Both Sides:
We like to think of democracy as a battle of ideas and a process of individual deliberation, but this year demography has been destiny. The campaigns have pushed us back into our tribal bunkers. Americans now seem more clannish, and more incomprehensible to one another.

This year a legitimate social uprising has been twisted to serve destructive means. Over the past 50 years, most of us have benefited from feminism, the civil rights movement, mass immigration, the information age and the sexual revolution. But as Charles Murray points out...
(Let me just take one brief moment to say Fuck. Charles. Murray. also too.)

Now let us return to Mr. David Brooks who is busy laying out the case against the man who demonstrated -- publicly, comprehensively, once-and-for-all -- that Mr. David Brooks of the New York Times never knew the slightest fucking true thing about the country which he has been paid a king's ransom to write about for the last 20 years:
With his penchant for cruelty, bigotry, narcissism, selfishness and even his primitive primate dominance displays, he has shredded the accepted understandings of personal morality that prevent the strong from preying on the weak.

Most disturbing, all of this has been greeted with moral numbness. The truest thing Trump said all year is that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and not lose any votes. We learned this year that millions of Americans are incapable of being morally offended, or of putting virtue above partisanship...
No, Mr. Brooks.  We on the Left learned "that millions of Americans are incapable of being morally offended, or of putting virtue above partisanship" decades ago.  You just weren't paying attention because you were being paid not to pay attention.

Then Mr. David Brooks of the New York Times puts the tensile strength of "The Beltway Iron Rule of David Brooks" ("It is mandatory to quote what David Brooks said this week/ It is forbodden to quote what David Brooks said last week") to its severest test in years by writing the following:
Personally I’ve always disdained talk of a third party, mostly because the structural barriers against such parties are so high, no matter how scintillatingly attractive they seem in theory. But it’s becoming clear that the need for a third party outweighs even the very real barriers.

The Republican Party will probably remain the white working-class party, favoring closed trade, closed borders and American withdrawal abroad. The Democratic Party, meanwhile, is increasingly dominated by its left/Sanders wing, which offers its own populism of the left.

There has to be a party for those who are now homeless. There has to be a party as confidently opposed to populism as populists are in favor of it... 

...a compassionate globalist party... 

...embraces free trade while looking after those who suffer from trade... 

...embraces continued skilled immigration while listening to those hurt by immigration... 

...embraces widening ethnic diversity while understanding that diversity can weaken social trust... 
...a patriotic party that understands that the world benefits when America serves as the leading and energetic superpower... 
...a party that unapologetically emphasizes public character formation...
Except, of course, this just isn't true.  Almost exactly ten years ago Mr. Brooks was crying to heaven for a third party and for exactly the same reason.  

I know because Mr. Brooks literally entitled it "Party No. 3".
There are two major parties on the ballot, but there are three major parties in America. There is the Democratic Party, the Republican Party and the McCain-Lieberman Party.

All were on display Tuesday night.

The Democratic Party was represented by its rising force — Ned Lamont on a victory platform with the net roots exulting before him and Al Sharpton smiling just behind.

The Republican Party was represented by its collapsing old guard — scandal-tainted Tom DeLay trying to get his name removed from the November ballot. And the McCain-Lieberman Party was represented by Joe Lieberman himself, giving a concession speech that explained why polarized primary voters shouldn’t be allowed to define the choices in American politics.

The McCain-Lieberman Party begins with a rejection of the Sunni-Shiite style of politics itself. It rejects those whose emotional attachment to their party is so all-consuming it becomes a form of tribalism, and who believe the only way to get American voters to respond is through aggression and stridency.

The flamers in the established parties tell themselves that their enemies are so vicious they have to be vicious too. They rationalize their behavior by insisting that circumstances have forced them to shelve their integrity for the good of the country. They imagine that once they have achieved victory through pulverizing rhetoric they will return to the moderate and nuanced sensibilities they think they still possess.

But the experience of DeLay and the net-root DeLays in the Democratic Party amply demonstrates that means determine ends. Hyper-partisans may have started with subtle beliefs, but their beliefs led them to partisanship and their partisanship led to malice and malice made them extremist, and pretty soon they were no longer the same people.

The McCain-Lieberman Party counters with constant reminders that country comes before party, that in politics a little passion energizes but unmarshaled passion corrupts, and that more people want to vote for civility than for venom.
On policy grounds, too, the McCain-Lieberman Party is distinct. On foreign policy, it agrees with Tony Blair...

On fiscal policy, the McCain-Lieberman Party sees a Republican Party that will not raise taxes and a Democratic Party that will not cut benefits, and understands that to avoid bankruptcy the country must do both.

On globalization, the McCain-Lieberman Party believes that free trade reduces poverty but that government must invest in human capital so people can compete. It believes in comprehensive immigration reform.

The McCain-Lieberman Party sees Democrats in the grip of teachers’ unions and Republicans who let corporations write environmental rules. It sees two parties that depend on the culture war for internal cohesion and that make abortion a litmus test.

It sees two traditions immobilized to trench warfare...

The McCain-Lieberman Party is emerging because the war with Islamic extremism...

It is emerging because of deep trends that are polarizing our politics...

It is emerging because social conservatives continue to pull the GOP rightward...

It is emerging because highly educated secular liberals are pulling the Democrats upscale and to the left...

The history of third parties is that they get absorbed into one of the existing two, and that will probably happen here. John McCain and Hillary Clinton will try to reconcile their centrist approaches with the hostile forces in their own parties. And maybe they will succeed (McCain has a better chance, since the ideologues on the right feel vulnerable while the ideologues on the left, perpetually two years behind the national mood, think the public wants more rage).

But amid the hurly-burly of the next few years — the continuing jihad, Speaker Pelosi, a possible economic slowdown — the old parties could become even more inflamed. Both could reject McCain-Liebermanism.

At that point things really get interesting.
So I guess "things" have gotten "interesting".

And since Mr. David Brooks of the New York Times has seen fit to recycle virtually point-for-point, exactly the same primal whimper of a column he wrote a decade ago, I see no reason why I shouldn't wrap this up by re-purposing my own commentary on that very column from 2006:
The “net roots” was the Democratic House Majority Leader?  Man, I must’ve slept right through that.

And casting Al Sharpton as the scary Black pivot on which the entire Democratic party turns, while amusing, is gonna come as one helluva shock to one Senator Barack Obama.

So where was the acid-belching Democratic equivalent of Rush Limbaugh in 1985?












Where was mile-high, bandwidth-bestriding Thug Left that matched the Hate Radio of the Thug Right for the last twenty years?

Where is the Democratic Gingrich who runs a Democratic GOPAC that methodically and deliberately instructs his entire Party to scream “Traitor!” at the opposition at every press opportunity as routine, tactical matter?

Where are the army of Special Prosecutors sifting through every Kleenex George Bush ever used? Over a bad land deal? And a blowjob?

When is the impeachment hearing of George Bush scheduled to begin?

Where is the Democratic Southern Strategy that nurtures and harvests racists for votes?

Name me the Commies in the Democratic Party? Anywhere? Where are the Bolsheviks that hold elected office? How many Socialists in Congress? How many raging, Green Party Governors? How many hard-line Naderite federal judges?

Now, compare that list to the list of how many Wingnut Evangelicals holding public office in the GOP? How many of them pull the strings as powerbrokers?

It is, of course, an absurd exercise, and at some level Brooks knows it.

The Democratic Party has been, for the last 30 years, conspicuously free of bomb-throwers, while the GOP has been the worlds leading producer of napalm-and-poo-flinging Christopaths and lunatics in print, on radio, on teevee, in the press, the punditocracy, the Congress, the courts and the White House.

As opposed to the 40-60% of the GOP that are hard Right Authoritarian/Theocrat, there simply isn’t any “fringe Left” that is statistically visible. They are the Imaginary Straw Man Enemy Within – the all-purpose Orwellian Emmanuel Goldstein Boogeyman – that has been invented out of whole cloth by the fascist Right and its lying enablers like Brooks to give their pig people someone to hate and blame for their fear and desperation.

For most of that time, Democrats have counseled compromise...and lost. (And the most abject capitulator of the bunch -- Joseph Lieberman -- is -- surprise! -- the shining example of what the future of politics should look like according to Bobo.)

For most of that time Republicans have cried Havoc! and let slip the Coulters of Culture War...and won.

The GOP has been a party of almost unalloyed, aggressively ends-endlessly-justifying-the-means cozenage, blissfully unaware of their steep downward spiral because in the Republican Party consulting an ethical altimeter is considered disloyalty bordering on sedition.

They have been a Party that has courted and cultivated lies of every vintage and sown every seed of division it could lay its paws on. They have built a Mighty Hate Machine and, laughing all the way, bulldozed it to power over the broken bodies of those who are still damnedfool enough to pretend that you can compromise with beasts drunk on blood and power.

Note this if you note nothing else: while the “flames” were all coming from Right, while the Left continues to play by the Marquess of Queensberry, you never heard a fucking peep out of slouches like Brooks: It is only when the Left begins to counterfire – and do it effectively, targeting those who have been pouring poison into the well of public discourse year after year – that Bobo suddenly becomes hysterically concerned about the partisanship “on both sides” and then, with great, fake reluctance, pulls an imaginary 3rd party out his rectum and Pronounces It Good.

The day that the GOP stops kicking gays in the teeth, recruiting klansmen, demonizing muslims, lionizing monsters who blame 9/11 of feminists and the ACLU and calling people like me traitor for opposing my government...that’s the day I will be happy to beat my pronouns into plowshares and talk peace and compromise.

But of course, they can’t let the crazies go. First and foremost -- as Barry Goldwater prophetically warned -- because the crazies now run their fucking party, from crotch to crown. The gargoyles have taken the cathedral, and Falwell and Dobson sits upon the Throne, while the Hagels and the Grahams are now the “fringe”.

And second, if they ever did kick the freaks out, they wouldn’t win another election. Ever. Anywhere. Seriously. As I’ve said before, without their Christopath Legions and assorted other reprogrammable golem shock troops, the GOP would be the Constitution Law Party, squatting impotently in the swamps of Mississippi, muttering angrily about Negroes.

And at heart, Quislings like Brooks would much rather have a police state with theocrats, deficits, endless war and tax cuts than a democracy with incrementally higher marginal tax rates and his Party out of power.

Brooks threw his weak, flabby shoulder into the Republican Revolution with a will, and it has come a murderous cropper on a scale that will hobble us for generations to come. And the only way that Brooks can live with the horror of his present is to lie about the past.

Brooks is a Conservative. An unreconstructed, unapologetic GOP stooge, now reduced – like all of his breed – to desperately trying to hide the massive bulk of his of complicity, lying and just fucking God Awful mawkish creative typing that is to “writing” as owl-pellets are to Vosges Chocolate Truffles (in that if you were robbed of all senses and cerebral function except for the ability to loosely gauge size and weight, you might mistake one for the other. In the dark. Underwater.)

Because for Brooks here is no cover left to scurry behind.

As the Floyd said:
“It’s too late the lose
The weight you used to
Need to throw around.
So have a good drown
As you go down
All alone."
Behind the melting sliver of his now- obviously bankrupt ideology, Bobo continues to try to hide the morbid moral obesity he cannot lose. And his position affords him no opportunity for a cozy, windowless cinderblock bunker bar into which he can disappear with skinhead pals for consolation and to bolster each other’s flagging belief in the imminent victory of the White Christian Race with cheap whiskey, dead sand n*gger-and-or-kike-and-or-fag jokes, and manly reacharounds.

Instead he invents a tony nest of ridiculous delusion out of ink and pulp, stocks it with a wholly fictional alternative political history wherein men like him are not cast down as the scoundrels they are, and then lives in it.

And lives well.

The massive dishonesty that pervades his words and his soul stands out like a psychic pillar of tumor growing straight out of his heart.

But instead of recognizing his disease for what it is, twice a week -- for a princely sum -- he carves off a little of his carcinoma and serves it up with a side of badly written treacle on the pages of the fucking New York Times.
*  *  *  

I'm sure Mr. Brooks' Third Party shall be a mighty Third Party, all glittery and sleek, full of only the very best people floating benevolently high above the Earth,  far from the ravages of the smelly populist masses.

And it shall be called Elysium.

And it probably end very much like the GOP is ending: with the goons you hired to keep the peace and do the heavy lifting finally deciding they don't need you any more ...

Update:  Steve M. over at No More Mister Nice Blog points out how effortlessly Mr. Brooks deploys the passive voice when he wants to avoid mentioning that the depravity Mr. Brooks is freaking out over is not coming from Liberals or Democrats of even that rara avis, the sensible Republican.  No, the depravity is coming from inside Mr. Brooks' own party, and Mr. Brooks would very much like to not talk about that.

Behold, a Tip Jar!


trgahan said...

"...millions of Americans are incapable of being morally offended.."

Dear Mr. Brooks,

They can't be morally offended because what has happened is, to them, absolutely 100 percent, God blessed and Founding Father Approved moral. Rush, Hannity, etc. have been assuring them of that "whatever the white guy wants or burn it all down!" is the central moral tenant God told Washington, Jefferson, Reagan, and whatever Founding Father NOT in the conservative doghouse this month for over 30 years.

Andrew Johnston said...

I think it's good practice to take just a few minutes every few years to remember how Ned Lamont freaked the fuck out of the Both Siderists. To we silly liberals it was basic democracy with people opting to vote for the candidate who best represented their interests, but to guys like Brooks it may as well have been Kristallnacht all over again. Here were a bunch of digital barbarians who hadn't spent their adult lives curing in think tank sinecures who now thought they could say shit without permission.

But where were these pricks when Sam Brownback's hardline faction took over my state and swept out anyone who didn't kiss Reagan's picture often enough. Nobody gave a shit because guys like this really do give conservatives a pass on this. Everyone has a role - conservatives throw punches, liberals take those punches with good humor, centrist liars cash the checks. And really, who cares if those conservative bullies completely ratfuck a state's economy? It's not like politics is about bettering people's lives or anything. Per Brooks, it's all a state of being.

It's not remotely controversial or enlightening to say it around here, but I must: Fuck our press. Fuck their parochialism, fuck their short memories, fuck their above-it-all nature, fuck their double standards, fuck their aristocratic pretensions, fuck their money, and above all fuck them for their role in putting us into this situation.

bowtiejack said...

Well OK, once again (and magnificently may I add) you depants Brooksie and his excruciating agony in coming up with 800 words a week. So many words!

But I believe the applicable precis is ". . . compliant corporate employees."

Lit3Bolt said...

"My God, if this is happening here, I shudder to think what must be going on at Euro Itchy and Scratchy Land!"


"Itchy and Scratchy Land, open for bizness!"

"Who are you to resist it, eh?"

"C'mon, my children need wine!"

bluicebank said...

So what you're saying, Driftglass, is that the DFB Program has, as with Lincoln, been hacked using C code? And the results would be hilarious, if they were not unnerving.

(There's an vinyl out there somewhere, from the 1980s, where a guy hacks the Lincoln at Disneyland, using voice commands, deadpan, in Basic C, and makes it deliver off-script messages.)

RUKidding said...

Looks like we are so screwed my friends.

Unknown said...

whew! david brooks got out just in time! the whigs rise again!

proverbialleadballoon said...

11:30; Trump only needs Michigan and Arizona to win, and he's ahead in both states, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. The Dow Jones is down 800 points, and the fucking people on tv are laughing 'hyuck, well Donald Trump is unpredictable hyuck'. This is bad.

Chan Kobun said...


wibble said...

we are sooooooo fked...


banker puppy said...

well, so much for shoving trump down the memory hole..

Benjamin Feddersen said...

The GOP is dead, long live the GOP (Giant Orange Prick).