Wednesday, February 28, 2024

The Crepes of Wrath Ride Again: Another David Brooks Working-Class Adventure.

Never doubt that Mr. David Brooks has thoughts.  Thoughts of his own.  Mighty thoughts that explain all human behavior it is totality and complexity.

But his thoughts are wrong and dumb, so you will (almost) never catch David Brooks sharing his thoughts directly.  Instead, every week, you will find Mr. David Brooks down at the Farmer's Marketplace of Ideas looking for just the right crop of other people's thoughts to put together into column that proxies for Mr. Brooks' own thoughts but leave no fingerprints.

However, if you actually track Mr. David Brooks' trips through the Farmer's Marketplace of Ideas over time,  like Jimmy McNulty putting his kids to work on a front and follow surveillance of Stringer Bell --  

-- you start to notice that he blows right past most of the succulent, inviting Ideas on display, and instead focuses on one or two stalls full of old, stale, rotting produce. 

Cherry-picked factoids that are barely adjacent to his theme.  

An analysis of more than 65,000 people across 36 countries by the Dutch scholar Jochem van Noord found that people who do not belong to the new elite are united not only by... 

Polls that don't really say what he wants them to say.  

Broad generalizations.  

And when Mr. Brooks feels the need to protect his left flank with a "liberal" perspective -- because fairness! -- he goes fishing around at the bottom of the bin and always somehow comes up with this guy, who hasn't been relevant in decades and long since decamped to the American Enterprise Institute because Conservative knocking shops always need a token "liberal" figleaf.  

 Which is what Mr. Brooks did today:

As the analyst Ruy Teixeira pointed out in his The Liberal Patriot Substack...

But let's not get ahead of ourselves.

 Here is the opening coda of Mr. Brooks' very own Fanfare for the Common Man:

After Hillary Clinton’s defeat in 2016, most sensible Democrats realized they had a problem. 

Was that problem...

...the baseline misogyny of way too many voters?

...the effect of +20 years of relentless Conservative propaganda turning Hillary Clinton into a murdering lesbian hellbeast who wanted to eat their children?

...the effect of +30 years years of relentless Conservative propaganda turning the GOP base into a zombie army of bigots and imbeciles?

...the effect of +30 years years of the mainstream media aggressively refusing to believe that the Republican party was full of Republicans?

...David Brooks' employer's wildly out-of-bounds obsession with the nothing-burger of Hillary Clinton's emails? FBI Director who decided to break all precedent and the DOJ's own internal policy and drop a big, stinky turd into the Clinton campaign just 11 days before the election?

...the entire mainstream media's wall-to-wall obsession with Both Sidesing every Trump atrocity?  Of beating Hillary Clinton every day like a career-advancement pinata on the theory that, no matter how despicably they behaved, since Hillary Clinton could not possibly lose, it was all good?

A rich and toxic hellbrew of all of the above?

Nope.  Not according to Mr. Brooks, who has fully shed his scared-shitless 2016 self.  The version of Brooks which we find running from door to door begging anyone who will listen to save him from the monsters he helped create.  The following is from me from all the way back in March of 2016.  Just before the Before Time became the Before Time.  Which, FYI, was read by around 2,700 people at the time.  Miniscule by Atlantic or Washington Post standards, but pretty big for me:

And now, that Trump has done all the things David Brooks swore he could never do at the head of an army of fire-eyed Republican meatheads that David Brooks swore could not exist,  Mr. Brooks has written a column so redolent with the stink of begging and fear and schadenfreude that it almost defies analysis.  Suffice it to say, Mr. Brooks really, really, really wants someone to come along and save him from the beast he has been feeding for 20 years.
Donald Trump is an affront to basic standards of honesty, virtue and citizenship. He pollutes the atmosphere in which our children are raised. He has already shredded the unspoken rules of political civility that make conversation possible. In his savage regime, public life is just a dog-eat-dog war of all against all.
A beast he promised over and over again to that small clutch of wealthy men who underwrite his idiocy and protect him from harm was thoroughly saddle-broke and ready to be ridden like Ann Romney's prized Lipizzaner right back into the White House.

A beast that has now kicked the barn door off its hinges and is currently stomping their carefully laid plans for oligarchy to bits.

So today David Brooks wrote a very special column.

It was not a column explaining that the Republican party -- his Republican party, his Conservative movement -- really is just a festering cesspit of paranoia and bigotry and fury, because he has already written himself into an inescapable corner by writing so many columns over so many years swearing that this was not so.

And it certainly was not a column saying the simplest, and most obvious truth of all -- that the Left was right about the Right all along -- because on that day the small clutch of wealthy men who have subsidized his Whig Fan Fiction Factory for years would cast him down from his high  place and leave him unprotected to the predations of the job market.  Were that to happen, Mr. Brooks would not last a week.

Instead, Mr, Brooks has written a letter of supplication to that small clutch of wealthy men, begging them to let him keep his job as the Greatest Conservative Public Intellectual in Murrica.  Promising to do better next time.
Moreover, many in the media, especially me, did not understand how they would express their alienation. We expected Trump to fizzle because we were not socially intermingled with his supporters and did not listen carefully enough. For me, it’s a lesson that I have to change the way I do my job if I’m going to report accurately on this country.
Ah, but David, when was your job ever to "report accurately on this country"?  You're not a journalist.  You tell lies for a living.  Your lies are not as hot and violent as Trump's, but you and he are basically in the same racket.  You make a princely living trafficking in fairy tales about "real America" that comfort and flatter the thousands of Beltway insiders and cosseted plutocrat rubes you hustle every week, and Trump is paving a path to the White House by telling millions of low-information rubes the flattering, reassuring lies that they want to hear.

Same scam, different chumps, except Trump's chumps are ecstatic, rage-drunk and armed with mighty weapons which you helped to forge, while your chumps are freaking out and terrified because the Plutocrat Potemkin vision of America you sold them is being overrun by hordes of rage-drunk, invincibly-armored Visigoths you told them did not exist.

But of course Brooks kept his job at The New York Times.  

And his job at PBS.  

And the one at NPR.  

Even picked up a new gig at The Atlantic.  

And now that the Before Times are well and truly the Before Times, about which none dare speak, , Brooks can safely forget that scary moment when the true, raging, racist face of his Republican party came so close to him that his preposterous worldview was very nearly snatched right out of the window of the Acela Corridor Quiet Car.  Instead, Brooks can now get back to pretending that the GOP base are merely the misunderstood and righteously aggrieved working class.

The [Democratic] party was hemorrhaging support from the white working class. More than 60 percent of Americans over 25 do not have a four-year college degree; it’s very hard to win national elections without them. 

So in 2020 the Democrats did something sensible. For the first time in 36 years, they nominated a presidential candidate who did not have a degree from Harvard or Yale.

Because people with degrees from Harvard or Yale lose?  And the mere existence of one of those degrees on the wall -- or, really, any degree on the wall -- is disqualifying to the white working class, while being a rapist and a traitor is not?

But...but... George H. W. Bush had a degree from Yale and he won.

And George W. Bush has a degree from Yale and he won.

And Bill Clinton has a degree from Yale and he won.

And Barack Obama has a degree from Harvard and he won.

Also J.D. Fucking Vance has a degree from Yale.   They made a movie about it!  And yet the morons lined up three deep to vote for him. 

And Ted Fucking Cruz has degrees from Princeton and Harvard and Texas meatheads have elected him twice.

Is it the beards?  Do the meatheads look at Vance and Cruz and say, well, sure, fancy-pants college degrees are skeery, but lookit them dang beards?  Or is it that the meatheads believe that scumbags like Vance and Cruz make Libtards cry and they're willing to overlook the fancy-pants degrees so long as some Libtard somewhere is crying?

So, right out of the gate, Brooks has boldly flung (flang?  flinged?) himself in entirely the wrong direction, which, to be fair, he has been doing pretty much his whole career and it never matters, so why not!

So in 2020 the Democrats did something sensible. For the first time in 36 years, they nominated a presidential candidate who did not have a degree from Harvard or Yale. Joe Biden won the White House and immediately pursued an ambitious agenda to support the working class.

By the way, did I mention that it's been 20 years since the Republican party has won the popular vote?


My bad.

2024 will mark 20 years since Republicans last won the popular vote.

To misquote David Brooks from just a few paragraphs back, it’s very hard to win national elections without winning the majority of the voters. 

Oh, and if you do the math, the last time a Republican presidential candidate won the popular vote was George W. Bush in 2004, and did I mention that George W. Bush has a degree from Yale?  And yet somehow he won.  With no beard!  Unpossible!  Unless, according to Brooks' theory, it was Bush's relentless pursuit of programs for the working class that overcame his beardless Yaleness! 

Sorry, no.  Instead, it was a potent combination of strategic gay-bashing -- 

... on the eve of George W. Bush’s reelection bid, the anti-gay vibes were still so strong that Karl Rove, his political swami, had a brilliant brainstorm. Rove wanted gin up 2004 turnout among Christian evangelicals who, in his calculations, had been insufficiently enthused when W. eked out his first win in 2000. And what better way to drive evangelicals to the polls than to put anti-gay marriage referenda on the ballots in 11 states – most notably Ohio, a swing state back then.

As numerous political science scholars have since determined, those referenda (which warned that scary gay marriage would sink western civilization) helped attract an outsized number of evangelical voters – particularly in pivotal Ohio, where some analysts even believe that the heftier base turnout was pivotal in putting Bush over the top in 2004. That’s precisely what a “wedge” issue was designed to do.

-- and GWOT (remember GWOT?) warnings from the White House that if beardless Eli John Kerry were elected, terrorists, may well murder your children in their sleep.

Cheney Warns of Terror Risk if Kerry Wins

Brooks continues:

The economic results have been fantastic. During Biden’s term, the U.S. economy has created 10.8 million production and nonsupervisory jobs, including nearly 800,000 manufacturing jobs and 774,000 construction jobs. Wages are rising faster for people at the lower end of the wage scale than for people at the higher end.

True.  The results have been terrific, especially since the party of bearded demagogues have, A) been trying everything in their power to sink the economy so they could hang that around Biden's neck while at the same time, B)  taking credit for programs which they loudly opposed and tried to kill.  

Republicans Are Taking Credit for Infrastructure Bill They All Voted Against

Amazing about-face from the members of Congress who tried to stop the bill in the first place

It's almost as if the hirsute Just Plain Joe Lunchbucket leaders of the Republican party have such contempt for their base that they figure they can just lie to their faces over and over again and base voters are just too fucking stupid to know better.  

Or maybe, just maybe, most of them really are that stupid?

Or maybe they're some hellbrew of both stupid and reprogrammable.

But of course that diagnosis doesn't fit the cure Brooks is pushing, does it?  Because in Brooks' mind it's always the Democrats that needs to show grace and be understanding.  Always the Democrats who need to be more accommodating to the wingnuts and less judgemental and Yale-ish.   Whereas the Republicans -- the Party of Personal Responsibility -- can never expected to be anything more that raging toddlers who have no agency or responsibility for terrible things they say and do.

And since Brooks has no intention of ever changing his ludicrous diagnosis to fit the disease, he spends column after column after column trying to bend and blur and rejigger the disease to fit his diagnosis.  And this is where Brooks' stockpile of anecdotes and cherry-picked factoids that are barely adjacent to his theme comes in handy.  

For example, Brooks doesn't mention that the study from which fancy-pants, beardless scholar Jochem van Noord is drawing his conclusions --

Finally, less-educated voters feel morally judged for being socially backward. An analysis of more than 65,000 people across 36 countries by the Dutch scholar Jochem van Noord found that people who do not belong to the new elite are united not only by... 

-- is the European Quality of Life survey and has nothing to do with the base voters of the Republican party.

And the two authors he drags into this are both British writers, one of whom is writing explicitly about Britain.

Matthew Goodwin, a political scientist who writes about the diploma divide in Britain, titled his recent book “Values, Voice and Virtue.” He argues the educated and less educated have different values...

Now let me stipulate something.  Having worked all kinds of jobs, and having been a workforce development professional specializing in manufacturing and getting young people into manufacturing (and persuading parents that we were not dooming their kids to dangerous, dead-end jobs...and persuading lawmakers that manufacturing wasn't dead...and convincing the Chicago Public School bureaucracy that opening a high school with a manufacturing-centered curriculum wasn't madness...and convincing the Chicago City Colleges bureaucracy that they really, really needed to change their 20-years-out-of-date curriculum and buy $4M worth of new equipment...and convincing manufacturers who hated the public schools and the city colleges to give us a shot at changing them... and convincing manufacturers that they really, really needed to change their 20-years-out-of-date human resources protocols for hiring) I would never argue that the dignity of that kind of labor hasn't taken a hit over the last 40 years.  

However the extent to which David Brooks has spent his entire career negating, deflecting, minimizing, ignoring and just plain lying about how ruthlessly Conservative media has worked to warp and corrode the Republican mind in inexcusable.  As is Brooks' ongoing and disgraceful denial of his Republican party's calculated strategy of rolling out the welcome mat for racists, homophobes, xenophobes, misogynists', gun nuts, dominionist Conservative christians, grifters, traitors, fascists, white nationalists, demagogues and a grab bag of assorted other weirdos and freaks.   

For example, Brooks is eager to credit Tom Suozzi's victory in Long Island to --

...playing up issues like controlling the border and fighting crime.

-- but he just can't bring himself to mention the third pillar of Suozzi's campaign.  From Teen Vogue:

 2024 Election: Tom Suozzi’s Win Proves That Abortion Is a Winning Issue

As Trump reportedly supports a 16-week abortion ban, Democrats would do well to remember that abortion rights win elections.

Also Suozzi has not one but two fancy-pants degrees, no beard, and:

Before entering politics, Suozzi worked as an accountant at Arthur Andersen from 1984 to 1986, a law clerk to Thomas Collier Platt Jr. of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York from 1989 to 1990, and a commercial litigator at Shearman & Sterling from 1990 to 1993

Very glad he won, but we're not exactly talking Tom Joad here.

 And as much as Brooks wants to fuzz up the Republican party's "white working class" problems with soft spongey language like "the diploma divide", "traditionalist" values, "feelings of misrecognition " and so forth, the real issue is the same as it ever was.  From The Intercept:

Time to Kill the Zombie Argument: Another Study Shows Trump Won Because of Racial Anxieties — Not Economic Distress

Three previous studies found a link between cultural anxiety and Trump voters. 

Now a fourth, from the Voter Study Group, finds the same connections.

DO YOU REMEMBER “economic anxiety”? The catch-all phrase relied on by politicians and pundits to try and explain the seemingly inexplicable: the election of Donald J. Trump in November 2016? A term deployed by left and right alike to try and account for the fact that white, working-class Americans voted for a Republican billionaire by an astonishing 2-to-1 margin?...

Everyone from Fox News host Jesse Waters to socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders has pushed this whole “economic anxiety” schtick. But it’s a complete and utter myth. As I pointed out in April 2017, referencing both pre-election surveys and exit poll data, the election of Trump had much less to do with economic anxiety or distress and much more to do with cultural anxiety and racial resentment. Anyone who bothers to examine the empirical evidence, or for that matter listens to Trump slamming black athletes as “sons of bitches” or Elizabeth Warren as “Pocahontas” in front of cheering crowds, is well-aware of the source of his appeal...

Brooks core assertion is that Republicans have an iron grip on the base of their party because "less-educated voters feel morally judged for being socially backward".

Is this true?

Hell yes, as long as we stipulate that "less-educated" and "socially backward" are just the latest in a long line of Brooksian euphemisms deployed to avoiding saying "racist" at at costs. 

In this Year of Our Lord 2024, I for one definitely pass severe moral judge on the millions and millions reprogrammable meatbags in the GOP who are racist and form the bedrock of that party.  I also pass severe moral judge the party's cadre of homophobes.  And Republican transphobes. And Republican xenophobes.  And Republican misogynists.  And Republican  gun nuts.  And Republican Christopaths (tm).  And Republican fascists.  And Republican traitors.  And Republican grifters.  And Republican white nationalists.  And Republican demagogues,  And the assorted other Republican weirdos and freaks who are too intellectually underclocking or to deluded not to know any better.

So, subtracting out all those mopes, who does that leave inside the Party of Trump that feel aggrieved  that Liberals like me judge them too harshly?

A small cohort of rich assholes, who all still believe their Republican party is something it manifestly is not, and who all cry themselves to sleep at night jerking off to David Brooks columns.

How Does David Brooks Still Have A Fucking Job?


Stephen James said...


Neo Tuxedo said...

And since Brooks has no intention of ever changing his ludicrous diagnosis to fit the disease, he spends column after column after column trying to bend and blur and rejigger the disease to fit his diagnosis.

"The very powerful and the very stupid have one thing in common: they don't alter their views to fit the facts; they alter the facts to fit their views. Which can be uncomfortable if you happen to be one of the facts they need altering..."
-- the (Fourth) Doctor to Leela of the Sevateem, "The Face of Evil"

Robt said...

I am still waiting so patiently for Brooks to write his article covering Rrp. Boebert and her superior religion and how she is on to something that if we all were forced to assimilate into her personal interpretations of the bible and religion. That if we were all forced under law and punishment to obey . That we would all be a superior Godly race.
As Boebert smokes in public theater when asked by pregnant woman not to. Divorcing her husband and going on a date to see Beetlejuice at a theater ( live play) providing her newly found date with a hand job in that public theater. In the name of her God?
How excusing your own sins because you are more special than others. Burning every moral ethical thing in front of your district constituents and having to run for election in a neighboring district because you wore out your moral superiority.
Her son being arrested when such a religious superior mother who condemns others for much less tries to explain mistakes happen and her son in jail is better than your kid because Excuses.
Come on Brooks, I am waiting to hear how this is a matter of both sides , except Boebert's side is innocent, personal only an issue because I am waiting for his every word of praise and excusals for her.
I mean what would Brooks do on a date with Boebert in a public theater as she reaches over and gives him the handy job. Would the expression, "oh God!" be an official comment from Brooks in this situation?

For Brooks, would any of this cause him to be even more eager to vote for Boebert if she was running for congress in his district?

BEcause Boeberrt and Brooks are the same. Like Both sides you know.

dinthebeast said...

Damn, that almost sounds like a basket of deplorables or some shit... so if the Republican party is in fact that basket, all we have to do is put a handle on it so they can go to hell in it.

-Doug in Sugar Pine

Anonymous said...

"So, subtracting out all those mopes, who does that leave inside the Party of Trump that feel aggrieved that Liberals like me judge them too harshly?

A small cohort of rich assholes, who all still believe their Republican party is something it manifestly is not, and who all cry themselves to sleep at night jerking off to David Brooks columns."

Are you saying that you judge this remaining cohort harshly too?

Edward said...

Oh man, I can't wait until you unload on the newest David Brooks column. It's a fucking doozy: