Friday, August 07, 2020

David Brooks: After Total War Can Come Total Living

As long-time readers know, over the years I have frequently taken Mr. David Brooks to task for spending his 800-words of priceless real estate on The New York Times' op-ed page to write about an impending Republican Party Renaissance which, to quote Mal Reynolds, is " a long wait for train don't come."

Sure it's always been a lie, but it's such a glorious, uplifting lie.  And a very profitable one:  telling an increasingly small number of extremely and influential wealthy shut-ins the political fairy tales they wish to believe has been very, very good for Mr. Brooks.

But today is different.

Today, instead of spending 800 words strapping the same, balding retreads onto the same old shitbox jalopy to take his readers on yet another, meandering tour of the Imaginary Future of the GOP, Mr. Brooks spent 2,663 words lying about the future of the GOP in a very special, expanded New York Times op-ed.
Where Do Republicans Go From Here? 
The party looks brain-dead at every spot Trump touches. But off in the corners, there’s a lot of intellectual ferment.
And it goes a little something like this.

In The Beginning there was Reagan who was awesome.  However we can't be sure whether or not Reagan marched to victory by continuing to pander to the racist base of the GOP and opening the doors of the party to Conservative dominionist Christians like Jerry Falwell because Mr. Brooks doesn't mention any of that.

If you came of age with conservative values and around Republican politics in the 1980s and 1990s, you lived within a certain Ronald Reagan-Margaret Thatcher paradigm. It was about limiting government, spreading democracy abroad, building dynamic free markets at home and cultivating people with the vigorous virtues — people who are energetic, upright, entrepreneurial, independent-minded, loyal to friends and strong against foes.

Then, I guess a buncha stuff happened. Stuff which we should definitely not dwell on because, once again, Mr. Brooks makes no mention of any of it.

After all, the man only has 2,663 words to work with.

Suffice it to say that time passed.  Pages flew from the calendar.  Smart people evolved.  Stupid people did not.  In fact, Mr. Brooks (along with his former employer, Bloody Bill Kristol) would like to take this opportunity to take credit for perceiving the wrong turns the Republican Party was taking and making a bold stand against it decades ago.
For decades conservatives were happy to live in that paradigm. But as years went by many came to see its limits. It was so comprehensively anti-government that it had no way to use government to solve common problems. It was so focused on cultivating strong individuals that it had no language to cultivate a sense of community and belonging. So, if you were right of center, you leapt. You broke from the Reagan paradigm and tried to create a new, updated conservative paradigm.

My own leap came early. On Sept. 15, 1997, William Kristol and I wrote a piece for The Wall Street Journal on what we called National Greatness Conservatism. We argued that the G.O.P. had become too anti-government. “How can Americans love their nation if they hate its government?” we asked. Only a return to the robust American nationalism of Alexander Hamilton, Henry Clay and Theodore Roosevelt would do: ambitious national projects, infrastructure, federal programs to increase social mobility.

The closest National Greatness Conservatism came to influencing the party was John McCain’s 2000 presidential bid. He was defeated by a man, George W. Bush, who made his own leap, to Compassionate Conservatism. (You know somebody has made a paradigm leap when he or she starts adding some modifying word or phrase before “Conservatism.”) This was an attempt to meld Catholic social teaching to conservatism.

There were many other leaps over the decades. Sam’s Club Republicans, led by Reihan Salam and my Times colleague Ross Douthat, pointed a way to link the G.O.P. to working-class concerns. Front Porch Republicans celebrated small towns and local communities. The Reformicons tried to use government to build strong families and neighborhoods. The Niskanen Center is an entire think tank for people who have leapt from libertarianism.

Most actual Republican politicians rejected all of this...
That, kids, is the sound of a lifeboat hitting the water and Mr. Brooks paddling madly away from a sinking party.

Of course, at no point in the +20 years since David Brooks made his awkward, half-assed stab at inventing an Imaginary Super Awesome Future Republican Party did he ever break with the actual racist, Hate Radio/Fox News Republican Party.  In fact, quite the opposite is true.  From Day One, Mr. Brooks was all in on George W. Bush -- the former Worst President in Modern American History -- and used his managing editor position at the now-defunct Weekly Standard to relentlessly slander Liberals as stupid, insane, parochial, unpatriotic idiots for opposing the Bush Administration's massive, budget-busting tax cuts, unconstitutional power grabs, staggering incompetence, premeditated sadism and catastrophic invasion of Iraq.

And it was Mr. Brooks' unconditional support for Dubya and his non-stop bashing of us stoopid Libtards that gave him the career rocket fuel to boost  him from the pages of The Weekly Standard and land him on the op-ed page of The New York Times where he will remain ensconced, as far as anyone can tell, for the rest of his life.

So much for Cancel Culture.

So when I see Mr. Brooks using his column in The New York Times to rhapsodize about his early wisdom on the subject of the future of his Republican Party, I cannot help but be reminded of  examples like this from 2006 -- ten years after his "American Greatness" epiphany as a forty-five-year-old paid professional grown-ass man -- in which we find Mr. Brooks continuing to slander Liberals like me as crazy even as the Bush Administration and its Iraqi Debacle were collapsing around his ears.

Just as Liberals like me had warned it would:

Of course, once the collapse of the Bush Administrations became an unstoppable avalanche, Mr. Brooks quickly converted his Liberal slander factory into the High and Holy Church of Both Sides Do It and has clung to this New Big Lie ever since with the kind of fanaticism rarely seen outside of a Trump Hate Rally.  For example ("David Brooks Discovers The Center! Again!") , when Bernie Sanders was in contention for the Democratic nomination in 2016, Mr, Brooks did a number of columns explaining to his readers that Sanders was just as bad as Trump.  And once Hillary Clinton won the nomination, Brooks pivoted effortless into a column about how Hillary Clinton's vision of American was as dark, paranoid and Nixonian as Trump's.

As I said, fanaticism.  And I mention this very brief history of the past couple of decades because nowhere in Mr. Brooks' assay of the trajectory of the GOP does he hint that any of this happened.

Instead, as I mentioned, in the beginning there was Reagan.

Then there was David Brooks and some of Mr. Brooks' fellow travelers wishcasting the noble Republican Party of Tomorrow to which no actual Republican paid the slightest attention.

Then, less that a year after after Mr. Brooks confidently predicted that the GOP had purged itself of it's Palinist influence and was marching confidently into a bright, Tom Cotton future --
The big Republican accomplishment is that they have detoxified their brand. Four years ago they seemed scary and extreme to a lot of people. They no longer seem that way. The wins in purple states like North Carolina, Iowa and Colorado are clear indications that the party can at least gain a hearing among swing voters. And if the G.O.P. presents a reasonable candidate (and this year’s crop was very good), then Republicans can win anywhere. I think we’ve left the Sarah Palin phase and entered the Tom Cotton phase. 
--  David Brooks, November 5, 2014.
-- Donald Trump oozed down the escalator and into the hearts of the racist base of Mr. Brooks' Republican Party.

Then, mere months after after Mr. Brooks appeared on Meet the Press confidently predicting that "the governing wing of the Republican Party" would soon swing into action and save them from both Donald Trump and Ted Cruz by rocketing Marco Rubio to power.--

-- Donald Trump swept to the nomination of Republican Party with more votes than any Republican candidate in history.

And then, suddenly, Trump!

"Well hell, I guess I'm a fucking idiot who obviously doesn't know shit-all about my own political party," any honorable mortal might say. "And I certainly have no business getting paid a shit-ton of money to spew my always-wrong twaddle to millions of readers," any honorable mortal might add.

But of course, while Mr. Brooks is mortal, he definitely has no honor, which is why less than two years after all of that turned out to be utter bullshit, Mr. David Brooks cooked up yet another way to (as one disreputable wag wrote at the time) "keep the credulous plutocrat shut-ins who underwrite his career from demanding that Dean Baquet defenestrate him from the 30th floor of New York Times building for lying to them over and over again.   See, Trump winning was actually a good thing because it was definitely going to usher in a New Conservative Intellectual Renaissance -- a Conservative Intellectual Renaissance so powerful and catchy that it would sweep aside stodgy oldster political thinking and by next summer all the rock and roll kids would be dancing to it in their raves and discotheques and sock hops.

Just like in Footloose!"

In fact I wrote about it at the time and you can read the whole thing here (".....And a Doughy Pantload Shall Lead Them") if you're so inclined.  This is the key passage: 
A Renaissance on the Right 

By David Brooks

What’s bad for the gavel is good for the pen. The Republican Party is in the midst of a cataclysmic transformation. But all the political turmoil is creating a burst of intellectual creativity on the right...
And who was going to lead this Imaginary Conservative Renaissance Which Was Definitely Just Around The Corner?  A bunch of toddlers you have never heard of, and...(emphasis added)
...Other conservatives are rising to defend that order, including National Review’s Jonah Goldberg, who later this month comes out with his epic and debate-shifting book, “Suicide of the West.”
Yes, the field marshal of Mr. Brooks' New Conservative revolution was going to be the same shitbag towering Conservative intellectual who wrote Liberal Fascism.

So now, two years after all of that turned out to be utter bullshit, where is there left for Mr. Brooks to go?  What palliating lies are there left in his mingy bag of tricks for him to offer up to the credulous plutocrat shut-ins who underwrite his career?

Well, if you really need to know you can go waste an hour or two of your irreplaceable time sifting through Mr. Brooks' 2,663-word stool sample looking for wisdom --
Where Do Republicans Go From Here? 
The party looks brain-dead at every spot Trump touches. But off in the corners, there’s a lot of intellectual ferment.
-- in which Mr. Brooks goes out of his way to pimp Bill Kristol's new weblog in the first paragraph:
Jonathan V. Last thinks President Trump is here forever. Last, an editor at The Bulwark, a conservative site that’s been hostile to Trump, argues that if Trump loses in November he’ll claim he was cheated out of the election. He’ll force other Republicans to back up his claim. He’ll get a TV show, hold rallies, be coy about running again in 2024. 
He’ll still be the center of everything Republican. Ambitious Republicans will have to lash themselves to the husk of the dying czar if they want to have any future in the party. The whole party will go Trump-crazed and brain-dead for another four years...
As for me, I have a podcast to record.

The episode's working title?

"The World of Tomorrow."

No Half Measures


john_m_burt said...

2,663 words instead of the usual 800. IOW, it was one David Brooks column for the psychic price of three.

Woody said...

"...lot of intellectual ferment."

Why did I read that as "intellectual vomit?"

Anonymous said...


Amadan said...

"But off in the corners, there’s a lot of intellectual ferment."

The legal term for it is 'Compost Mentis'.



bowtiejack said...

"The party looks brain-dead at every spot Trump touches. But off in the corners, there’s a lot of intellectual ferment."

Ah yes, I believe Galbraith covered that:
"The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness."

The work never ends, does it?

Hugsy Wugsy said...

Just where do you get off bringing up past DFB's writing. Is yer memory-hole broke or sumthin?

Jason said...

2663 David Brooks thanks. That's why you get the big dollars DG.

Unknown said...

There's SO much wrong in Brooksie's column that I'd make myself ill trying to highlight all of it. From the begging-for-canned-laughter of the single-sentence third graf (needy much, DFB?) to "...the history of the modern Republican Party is the history of paradigm shifts" (WHAT paradigm shifts?) to Bush-era alleged "This was an attempt to meld Catholic social teaching to conservatism" (WTF?! Liberation theology NEVER SERIOUSLY was on his platform - ask yr pops about Central America, W!) to "...Trump and Bannon took a low-rent strand of conservatism — class-based ethnic nationalism — that had always been locked away in the basement of the American right..." (locked away in the basement?!! It's been having drinks on the portico for decades!!) and then on to...oh man, I can't even. And we're only a quarter (maybe) of the way though! It goes on and On and ON. Fk me, it's PAINFUL.
I suppose the funniest part is the illustration. Trump has swallowed whole ten WHITE people (that seems about right - both in color and quantity) and they are all trying to claw their way out of his fat rancid skinsuit. At least the graphic editor stuck the landing.
And so, as DG has queried many a time before, how does this dimbulb pindick Brooks get away with this kinda con? How does he get PAID? How does he get paid FOR THIS? It's basura! Brooks' lies are no better than Trump's. And worse, WHO READS THIS? Who reads it and FEELS BETTER INFORMED THAN THEY DID BEFORE THEY READ IT?! Who? Who doesn't see right through the neediness and the excuses? Trump is the bully. Brooks is the weenie. Their lies are cut from the same cloth.
Sorry to get all caps-shouty on on ya but goddamn!! It's beyond irritating. It actively pisses me off.
Keep calling him out, DG. Thank you.

Mike R said...

Biggest load of BS since the kid came home to tell me wrecked the car because he swerved to miss a dog. He was being very safe, but the dog surprised him. Did I mention the car ended up about 350 ft into a corn field and upside down with about every surface smashed in, very glad no one was hurt. Can't say the same for the conservative movement, hope all life boats sink.

Robt said...

Is Convicted Felon Dinesh D' Souza now David Brooks ghost writer?

We all understand age can wear down and lose that essential sharp crispness it once had.

There is no shame is getting the help you need and want.

The way I see it,
If you are bright enough to realize what you read by Brooks is Dumbfounding, confusing, leads to no conclusions and left you wondering if there is employment out there for Dementia stricken people. Then you would be one of those who read a Brooks piece and walked away with something. Now if that something is useful or applicable to anything in your life is another subject for another time.

ChrisDutch said...

Phony righties like Brooks will absolutely tie themselves up in knots rationalizing what is happening to the modern GOP. I think only a Goldwater like landslide this fall will disabuse clowns like Bobo Brooks of his idiocy but I'm not going to hold my breath.

Pagan in repose said...

Allow me to edit DFB a tad here and there: "...limiting government, to the people who actually pay the taxes and whose money the Republicans are withholding from them...".
"...cultivating people with the vigorous withholding their tax money from them by creating programs to help them become people who are energetic, upright, entrepreneurial, independent-minded, loyal to friends..."

"It was so comprehensively anti-government 'meaning giving tax payers money to the rich and corporations who virtually paid no taxes' that it had no way to use government 'meaning using taxpayers money to solve common problems. It was so focused on cultivating strong individuals that it had no language to cultivate a sense of..."

So on and so forth every time he speaks about the 'people' hating government. Not the Republicans who grabbed as much of our tax money as they could and give the rest to the corporations and their friends who were already wealthy. They never hated government they just hated giving our tax money back to us in ways to help us the American people.

Jeff said...

If DFB were honest, his column could have been just three words:
Title: Still "Where Do Republicans Go From Here?"
Column: "Russia, of course."

Good modified droodle, DG. Roger Price was a national treasure, as was his masterpiece, "In One Head and Out the Other." I wish I still had a copy.

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