Saturday, June 17, 2017

Today In Both Sides Do It: David Brooks and the Denialist Sidestep

Most of the time, being an ecclesiastical officer of the Beltway's most profitable denomination -- The High and Holy Church of Both Siderism -- is, dollar-for-dollar, the easiest and most profitable job in the world.  First, Very Large Media Corporations hand you a large and influential media platform from which to speak to a huge audience, and from that platform literally all you have to do is automatically and indiscriminately blame "Both Sides" for every Republican atrocity.

Then, every two weeks or so, the Very Large Media Corporation that provides your influential media platform will give you a Very Large Bag of Money.

This very simple, very big lie is the central pillar that props up the entire mainstream media.  And every member of the the Church's hierarchy who participates in the promulgation of this Big Lie -- from Pope Bias the First himself, Bishop of the Acela Corridor, aka, 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 ... the lowliest parish priest damn well knows it's a lie, which is why the regular distribution of those Very Large Bags of Money is so important to the life and health of the Church.

The Church remains respectable and profitable because it appeals directly to the mingy souls of America's tens of millions of political cowards and frauds.  A vast and timorous herd of The Uncommitted who live in perpetual terror of having to stand up and take sides on any issue find peace-of-mind in the Church's cynical message, while an equally vast and bilious mob of Republicans cosplaying as "Independents" find a safe, nonjudgmental place to hide out from the consequences of a life spent listening to Rush, watching Hannity, hating the Kenyan Usurper and voting for monsters.

But without tight message control -- without every single member of the hierarchy singing from the same page of the same The Extremes on Both Sides are to Blame fer Every Bad Thing hymnal -- the High and Holy Church of Both Siderism would go the way of any other creed whose adherent lose faith and wander off to hook up with one of the newer, hipper, ascendant gods...

Within a year, the High and Holy Church of Both Siderism would go the way of the Atenism and the cult of Mithras, and then no more Very Large Bags of Money.

So everybody sings.

Except every now and then, one of them doesn't.  One of them chokes on the sacred, incantatory words because in that moment the Big Lie is too much to bear.  And while those moments never last very long, I find them fascinating because they are a brief flicker of light that show us a glimpse of the ugly, squirmy things that live in dark, cool corners of the Church.

On Friday, Mark Shields had one such moment on The News Hour.

David Brooks was performing the usual sacrament of blaming everyone and no one...
DAVID BROOKS: ...And the thing that’s symptomatic of me — for me is, I used to think polarization was a Washington phenomenon, that the people on Capitol Hill were polarized, but the country was sort of still a moderate nation.

But I think there is little evidence to support that now. This is a polarized country. And most of the politicians I know, members of Congress, hate the system they’re in. They’re stuck in a much more polarized world than they wish they were in.

And it’s out of the country. And that doesn’t say the shooter is any way symptomatic. If anything, he’s an atypical nutcase. But it is a sign on the fringes.

We have seen a ratcheting up of violence. We saw it, I thought, at the conventions on both sides. We saw it at the Trump rallies on both sides...
..and Shields was going along with the program, performing his part in the ritual call-and-response --
MARK SHIELDS: You hope, Judy, but to David’s point, both parties — according to Pew Research, in both parties, what drives the most activist wing is not support and energy and advocacy of their own side. It’s loathing of the other side.
-- when this happened, which commits every heresy in the book.  He named names.  He talked about The Past and how it relates directly to The Present.  And he laid responsibility for the origins of the disaster we see all around us on one person in one political party,
And there was a time, I will be very blunt, when I came to Washington, when the legitimacy of your opponent was never questioned. You questioned their judgment. You questioned their opinions or their arguments, but you never their legitimacy.

And that changed. And it changed. And one of the reasons it changed is that a man was elected from the state of Georgia who ran on the book, and the book was, you use these words. You use sick. You refer pathetic, traitor, liar, corrupt, shame, enemy of normal Americans.

This was Newt Gingrich’s bible. It wasn’t an idea of a policy. It wasn’t a program. He used it and he became successful. He became speaker of the House.

Donald Trump is a clone of Newt Gingrich. Donald Trump used, Donald Trump, lying Ted, and lightweight Bobby Jindal, and Mitt Romney choked like a dog, and used that language...
Which put Judy Woodruff in the hilariously uncomfortable position of asking David Brooks the one question which one is never, ever supposed to ask David Brooks (emphasis added):
JUDY WOODRUFF: Just 45 seconds.  Is one side more responsible than another? And are we going to see any of this coming together last, or is it…
And Mr. Brook did what Mr. Brooks always does whenever someone unexpectedly kicks the gilded cathedral doors of the High and Holy Church of Both Siderism open at an inconvenient moment and impales him on a sharp and shiny beam of raw reality.

He avoid the question altogether and breaks into The Denialist Sidestep: gibbering nonsense until he runs out the clock:
DAVID BROOKS: Yes, to me, in 1970, people were asked, would you mind it if your son or daughter married someone of the opposing party? And 5 percent would mind.

Now 40 percent mind, because people think your political affiliation is a sign of your worth, your values, your philosophy, your culture, your lifestyle. It’s everything. All of a sudden, we have been reduced to politics and we have made politics into the ultimate source of our souls.

And that’s — it’s just — that’s not what it should be about. It’s just about arguments about tax rates. It’s not everything.

"All of a sudden" this just happened says David Brooks in June of 2017.

Here is David Brooks -- the Pope of the High and Holy Church of Both Siderism -- in July of 2002 delegitimizing Democrats as simpleton Commie stooges:

Why Republicans Should Be Afraid
A lot can go wrong for them this fall.
JUL 29, 2002

...the Democrats seem to think that there is this organized entity called Corporate America, made up of senior executives, Republicans, white country clubbers, and people who were cheerleaders and prom kings in high school. If they can get the rest of the country to hate these people as much as they do, then they will win elections. Because they have this category in their heads, Democrats see the corporate scandals as tainting the whole Republican party.

But Americans who have not been suckled on the "Marx-Engels Reader" do not carry these categories around in their heads...

Here is David Brooks, in April of 2003
The Collapse of the Dream Palaces
Mass destruction of mistaken ideas.
APR 28, 2003

... Now that the war in Iraq is over, we'll find out how many people around the world are capable of facing unpleasant facts. For the events of recent months confirm that millions of human beings are living in dream palaces, to use Fouad Ajami's phrase. They are living with versions of reality that simply do not comport with the way things are. They circulate and recirculate conspiracy theories, myths, and allegations with little regard for whether or not these fantasies are true. And the events of the past month have exposed them as the falsehoods they are.

Finally, there is the dream palace of the American Bush haters. In this dream palace, there is so much contempt for Bush that none is left over for Saddam or for tyranny. Whatever the question, the answer is that Bush and his cronies are evil. What to do about Iraq? Bush is evil. What to do about the economy? Bush is venal. What to do about North Korea? Bush is a hypocrite.

In this dream palace, Bush, Cheney, and a junta of corporate oligarchs stole the presidential election, then declared war on Iraq to seize its oil and hand out the spoils to Halliburton and Bechtel. In this dream palace, the warmongering Likudniks in the administration sit around dreaming of conquests in Syria, Iran, and beyond. In this dream palace, the boy genius Karl Rove hatches schemes to use the Confederate flag issue to win more elections, John Ashcroft wages holy war on American liberties, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, and his cabal of neoconservatives long for global empire. In this dream palace, every story of Republican villainy is believed, and all the windows are shuttered with hate.

My third guess is that the Bush haters will grow more vociferous as their numbers shrink. Even progress in Iraq will not dampen their anger, because as many people have noted, hatred of Bush and his corporate cronies is all that is left of their leftism. And this hatred is tribal, not ideological. And so they will still have their rallies, their alternative weeklies, and their Gore Vidal polemics. They will still have a huge influence over the Democratic party, perhaps even determining its next presidential nominee. But they will seem increasingly unattractive to most moderate and even many normally Democratic voters who never really adopted outrage as their dominant public emotion.

In other words, there will be no magic "Aha!" moment that brings the dream palaces down. Even if Saddam's remains are found, even if weapons of mass destruction are displayed, even if Iraq starts to move along a winding, muddled path toward normalcy, no day will come when the enemies of this endeavor turn around and say, "We were wrong. Bush was right." They will just extend their forebodings into a more distant future. Nevertheless, the frame of the debate will shift. The war's opponents will lose self-confidence and vitality. And they will backtrack. They will claim that they always accepted certain realities, which, in fact, they rejected only months ago...

Here is David Brooks, again in April of 2003
Optimism Rediscovered
From the April 4, 2003 London Times:
Suddenly, things don't look so grim.
10:25 AM, APR 6, 2003

Second, one hears of a growing distaste for the peace marchers, again from people who don't necessarily support the President. Their objections are not so much substantive as tonal. These peace marchers seem driven by bile and self-righteousness, and are fundamentally out of step with a country that wants, now that the war is on, to back the troops.

In short, the mood feels a bit as it it did after September 11. Americans are pulling together. There is a yearning to perform some act of public service. There is greater revulsion at those who are trying to divide the country. There is no tolerance for alienated poses...
This is why, in the eyes of the High and Holy Church of Both Siderism, bringing up The Past, naming names and honestly and objectively allocating blame for the mess we are in are the three worst sins one can commit.

And it is why David "Very Big Bags of Money" Brooks is America's staunchest defender of that faith.


proverbialleadballoon said...

I'm finding American Gods to be endlessly fascinating. Not completely understandable, and the episodic nature of what is depicted doesn't help with that, but I think I've pieced together enough so far to have an understanding of where things stand. Where events are going, I have no idea. Other than to the House on the Rock in Wisconsin (hey, I've been there! neat). Hopefully, some of these threads get tied together with tonight's episode. The season kinda sorta needs to end on firmer footing, in order to bridge the span until the next one starts. But I'm having fun, so far.

Robt said...

Brooks's bothsiderisms seem to get raised when his beloved republican people of his conservative ideology fails.
Which is the reason he raises bothsider as often as he does and more frequent now with their majorities in Congress.

It serves to deflect any responsibility(s) that require ownership by any republican. Probably created in Dr. Frankenstein's (or Dr Frank Luntz's)castle lab made out of dead carouses.

Like this,
We never lied about WMD in Iraq. All the experts (we chose) siad so.

Besides, you on the left do things. Like when General Sherman didn't clearly explain he would employ a war strategy like he did burning everything behind him as he fought his way to the sea during the Civil War.

So you do not tell the truth and things .

The press needs Ju Jitsu classes on how to wrestle this opponent successfully. If they continue to provide both siderism the oxygen life requires to sustain.

bowtiejack said...

You and your damn facts!

Well I'm grateful at least that the children were able to see these authentic samples of Beltway gibberish before it goes the way of the auk and the passenger pigeon.

Charles Watkins said...

Thanks for that video. I'm not sure how it applies, but that was some fine dancing.

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