While discussing the current crop of GOP candidates that are still standing after the Iowa caucuses and why Republican voters can't stand Mitt Romney and settled on Rick Santorum instead, David Brooks offered up this bit of infinite wisdom on The Charlie Rose Show on Santorum and who the Republican Party represents.
ROSE: But the great columnist at The New York Times David Brooks said the following. America does not want to see Harvard Law vs Harvard Law in the general election. So square that.
BROOKS: Yeah, well I think that's the key to Rick Santorum's perpetuation. He rose because he's a social conservative, but he's not only a social conservative. He's also a genuine working class kid. His grandfather was a coal miner as he says. His dad came over, was an immigrant and got an education through the G.I. Bill and he represented west Pennsylvania, the dying steel towns there.
And so he genuinely has these working class roots and what he said last night after his victory, or pseudo victory speech about the dignity of labor, that's marrying sort of social conservative values to the economy. And he talks about we can't have a growing economy without strong families, without strong communities.
And he lived that basically in the Senate. And so this country has had a lot of pseudo populists, coming up rising, but only getting so far... people from Mike Huckabee... ugh... even Dick Gephardt on the Democratic side. And if he can marry the social conservatives message with a really, an economic conservative, a really more populist working class message, and just sent off a working class vibe, he could do well because the Republican Party is the party of the working class.
Oh yeah... since when? You know, one can argue legitimately about what's left of the Democratic Party that still represents the working class, but there is still a large progressive base in the Democratic Party and in the Congress that does still represent the working class. The Republican Party has been a wholly owned subsidiary of big money, the wealthy elites and the richest among us entirely for some time now.
And if anyone wants an example of what's wrong with a great deal of our politics, our media and how they frame issues and how Republicans vote, it's exactly what Brooks was describing here where maybe a “pseudo populist” like Santorum can fool enough rubes into voting for him because they think he shares their “values."
The subtext of that which doesn't get discussed of course if that those "values" actually mean telling women what they can do with their bodies and whether they can use birth control, or telling people who they can have sex with, or demonizing the poor by playing off of racial divisions.
Santorum is not a populist. He's another right wing extremist religious fundamentalist dressed up in some populist clothing that David Brooks wants the PBS viewers to feel good about because of who his father and grandfather were. Well, that's not his bio and it's not his voting record.
You can look at Project VoteSmart's list of Santorum's voting record here.
As to Brooks larger point that Republicans are "the party of the working class" I've really got to wonder what he'd been smoking before this interview if he actually believes the nonsense that comes out of his mouth. Sadly, The New York Times, that supposed bastion of evil liberal ideology if you watch Fox or listen to right wing radio, is still paying this man way too much money to write a column there every week.
And as always, for anyone who isn't already familiar with Brooks' hackery, I'd refer you to Driftglass' years of writing on that topic which you can read some of here.