David Brooks: Moving Further To The Right Is Good For Republicans As Long As They're 'Principled'

There are so many things wrong with this appearance by David Brooks on Meet the Press it's hard to know where to begin, but for starters we had David
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There are so many things wrong with this appearance by David Brooks on Meet the Press it's hard to know where to begin, but for starters we had David Gregory singing the praises of Brooks' latest op-ed The Government War. Driftglass already dissected that bit of history revisionism -- David Brooks Loses His Mind (warning not safe for work), so I'm not going to do that here other than to add this point made by Paul Waldman at The American Prospect in response to Brooks' hackery -- Obama Didn't Create the Tea Party:

The prevailing narrative about our current political moment goes something like this:

Obama took office facing some large challenges. Then he overreached, by doing all kinds of big-governmenty things. This provoked a backlash, and now we're fighting over it.

We see the latest version of this narrative in today's David Brooks column, one of surpassing more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger Brooksness. As a moderate, Brooks is deeply saddened by all the arguing that's going on. "Just as America was leaving the culture war and the war war, the Democrats thrust it back into the government war, only this time nastier and with higher stakes," he laments.

The problem with this narrative is that it assumes that if Obama had taken some other course of action, the Tea Partiers would never have gotten so mad, and we would be having a much more civil discussion. But that's just absurd.

Exactly. But that's not going to stop the likes of David Gregory from gushing over his as Driftglass put it "fact-free garbage island of Centrism". David Gregory then lets him get away with this whopper:

BROOKS: Can I just say something about the Republican mounting strategy, which is people like me would like there to be centrist, like Governor Crist, people like that. But the center has so far proved unprincipled, and people like Marco Rubio and Paul Ryan have shown they're principled. And when you're disgusted by government, you congregate toward people like that. And so the evidence shows overwhelmingly, so far, that the further right the party gets, as long as they're principled, the better they do. Has any party had a worse year than the Democrats have had politically this year? Democratic favorability rating has dropped 22 points in a year. The Democrats a year ago had an 11 point party idea advantage over the Republicans. All that's gone. So the Republicans are surging at the point they're moving to the right with people like Rubio. And so that's where the data is. People like me would wish, you know, go for the middle. But the data supports the idea that people like Rubio are driving the party to victory.

The mind reels. Here are David Brooks' "principled" Republicans. Marco Rubio with his expense account problems -- Did Marco Rubio's free enterprising ways put an extra hundred grand in his pocket? and Paul Ryan who wants to destroy Social Security. Obviously Brooks has been drinking the same Kool Aid as George Will -- George Will Touts Paul Ryan's Social Security Privatization Scheme as Election Strategy for GOP.

Transcript below the fold.

GREGORY: We are back now with the roundtable. And a big question that I've been thinking about this week, whether it's health care and its intervention into the economy, whether it's economic stimulus or whether it's financial regulation, it is about this debate between the role of government in society, in the economy, in our lives generally.

David Brooks, you have been thinking about this a lot and you wrote this in your column on Friday: "In the first year of the Obama administration, the Democrats, either wittingly or unwittingly, decided to put the big government-versus-small government debate at the center of American life." How's that playing out?

BROOKS: Not well, I don't think. I don't think it's good for the country. You know, we had a bitterly divisive culture war for a bunch of years, then we had a bitterly divisive debate about Iraq. And I think a lot of people, including President Obama, were hoping we could get to other debates about opportunity, about productivity, about fiscal problems. And that will--those would have been debates which would have structured some bipartisan cooperation. But for whatever reason, we fall into a big government vs. small government debate. And this is like a social script that puts all the Republicans on the anti-government mode, very polarized; strengthens the libertarian, more polarized part of that party; puts the Democrats on a more "let's use government to do this and that" mode. And so you get this intense polarization which we've seen over the past year. It also tends to help Republicans, by the way. But it's created, not only an end to the polarization, but it's magnified it, I think.

[...]

BROOKS: Can I just say something about the Republican mounting strategy, which is people like me would like there to be centrist, like Governor Crist, people like that. But the center has so far proved unprincipled, and people like Marco Rubio and Paul Ryan have shown they're principled. And when you're disgusted by government, you congregate toward people like that. And so the evidence shows overwhelmingly, so far, that the further right the party gets, as long as they're principled, the better they do. Has any party had a worse year than the Democrats have had politically this year? Democratic favorability rating has dropped 22 points in a year. The Democrats a year ago had an 11 point party idea advantage over the Republicans. All that's gone. So the Republicans are surging at the point they're moving to the right with people like Rubio. And so that's where the data is. People like me would wish, you know, go for the middle. But the data supports the idea that people like Rubio are driving the party to victory.

GREGORY: Well, OK, but the, if your desire is for the center, where, to come back to your original point, is there a more centrist big government argument to make? In other words, does President Obama have to win the argument that government is actually helpful?

BROOKS: Yeah. Well, the, the, he won election because he won independents. The tea party movement is like really big and sort of interesting, but the core movement in politics has been in the center. He's lost independents. And so he has to go being sort of the way he was on Wall Street this week, which is a pragmatic intelligent guy who talks about the things Evan talked about, that we need to have this, this--these things on both sides. And if he can embody that, he'll, he personally will be able to recapture the suburban voter. Whether the Democratic Party in the House can do it I'm really doubtful.

NORRIS: If the party moves, if the Republican Party, though, moves farther to the right, do they capture those voters that are in the middle?

BROOKS: Well, I, personally I'm dubious. But I'd love to see some evidence to suggest that the Republicans I sort of like would do well. I don't see any evidence of that. I see the Rubios doing really well.

THOMAS: But can the Rubio people ever get the 51 percent?

BROOKS: Right. I, I think the Republicans will do phenomenally well this year. But it would be tough to see a Rubio-type candidate winning in 2012. But remember, the politic, the politics of the country are unprecedented, the disgust is amazing, and so I think we'd be hesitant to predict something like that.

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