Now that Love has Found Mr. David Brooks, it can't be too long until the vulgar rewards of spinning fairy tales for farty old plutocrats who drool at the thought of gutting health care for the poor begin to lose their charm.
Which means the sub rosa competition for "Who Will Be The New York Times' Next Remorselessly Awful 'True Conservative''?" may have already begun.
In addition to being a bona fide "True Conservative" (whatever the fuck that means any more), any candidate would, of course, have to have a pre-existing "brand" that includes experience on the teevee machine. They would have to have an established record of championing terrible "True Conservative" think-tank Brooksian ideas. They would have to already be wired into the mores and folkways of Beltway, and smugly burrowed deep enough into its rituals and culture that -- just like Mr. Brooks -- their columns could float dirigibly high above the grubby reality of life in America beyond their insular little Village.
Above all, since their prime directive would be to tend the Beltway's cash-crop -- False Equivalence -- they would have to be the most reliable and constant gardener of the Fake Center. After all, they would be competing to be the new pope of the High and Holy Church of Both Siderism and take up the duties of the Bishop of the Acela Corridor, Vicar of Both Sides, Successor of the Prince of the Kristols, Supreme Pontiff of the Washington Beltway, Primate of Fake Centrism, Archbishop and Metropolitan of Humility, Sovereign of True Conservatism's City State and Servant of the servants of the Church of Lyin'tology --
-- so they'd have to show that they take that shit seriously.
Bonus points would be awarded if they're also positively oozy with saccharine piety.
Upon his departure, I strongly suspect that The New York Times would be looking for someone who is "optimally distinct" (as the kids say) from Mr. Brooks.
Optimal distinctiveness theory demonstrates that individuals prefer to join groups, teams, or collectives with particular properties (Brewer, 1991, 1993). In particular, individuals need to fulfill two competing needs: the need to belong or assimilate and the need to feel distinct and unique.
To keep the political shut-ins and insulated plutocrats who depend on twice-weekly doses of Brooksian bromides to keep them complacent, the Times would obviously need someone very much like Mr. Brooks. But in order to pretend they're offering their readers a bold new voice, they would also need someone they can pass off as distinctly different.
In the past, Mr. Brooks has repeatedly used his New York Times column to serve as the hype man for a small group of "reformicons" -- most prominently Yuval Levin and Ramesh Ponnuru -- whose ideas have never gained any traction anywhere outside of the Beltway, but who Mr. Brooks has led his readers to believe are intellectual giants who have been on the trembling verge of saving Conservatism from itself for, oh, just years and years now.
There is also Arthur Brooks, who is old, white and nonthreatening as fuck. Basically a third-generation mimeograph of David Brooks and the NYT would barely have to change the byline, so he's cost effective!
But I think there is another horse in this race. Mr. Andrew Sullivan -- who is definitely not blogging -- but who sure looks like he just tossed his resume over the transom at The New York Times with this long and winding turd of rank Both Siderism:
Here is the title of the article --
-- which the horrid Bill Kristol describes as "very strong".I can't. The false equivalence is breathtaking and disappointing. Looks like Andrew Sullivan and Jonathan Chait have been out for drinks. pic.twitter.com/8orgLXm4qj— Stacy Parker LeMelle (@StacyLeMelle) March 10, 2017
And yes, it's just as bad as you think it is -- Mr. Sullivan has taken an incident at Middlebury college in which the odious Charles Murry and his handler got shoved around and conflated it to be representative of "the current atmosphere on most American campuses"
Honestly, given what he has written about virtually never leaving his home-places for any reason, I had no idea the eremitic Mr. Sullivan had visited "most American campuses" and assayed the collective attitudes of the student bodies of each of them, but you live and learn I suppose.
Anyway, Mr., Sullivan then goes on at great length -- 13 paragraphs to be exact -- about the horrors of Leftist Orthodoxy Fascism at America's institutions of higher learning, which gives Mr. Sullivan a chance to lay out every pet Conservative peeve in his cramped little heart and roll around in his own self-righteousness:
It is operating, in Orwell’s words, as a “smelly little orthodoxy,” and it manifests itself, it seems to me, almost as a religion...It’s Marx without the final total liberation...But, in a strange echo of the Trumpian right, they are insisting on the superiority of their orthodoxy to “facts.” They are hostile, like all fundamentalists, to science, because it might counter doctrine. And they shut down the event because intersectionality rejects the entire idea of free debate, science, or truth independent of white male power...
Then, once he had finished giving the world's least powerful imaginary totalitarians a damned good thrashing for 13 paragraphs, Mr. Sullivan remembered to squeeze out a few paragraphs about the actual fascists who now actually run this country. Actual fascists who grew like weeds out of the Conservative/Both Siderist compost Mr. Sullivan has helped to curate for so very long.
And when I say a few paragraphs, I mean five: two borrowed from his pal and fellow Iraq War Pimp Daddy, Peter Beinart, and three of his own:
Meanwhile, of course, President Trump continues his assault on the very same independent truth — in this case, significantly more frightening given his position as the most powerful individual on the planet. He too has a contempt for any facts that do not fit his own ideology or self-image...
It's the "too" that makes it art.