While I agree with my colleague here at C&L that Ezra Klein went too easy on David Brooks and that it would have been nice to see Brooks called out directly for being a clueless liar who doesn't even appear to understand the policy proposals he's criticizing, Klein handed a load of ammunition to a host of others who weren't quite so worried about being polite.
Here are some of the examples that I've come across and I'm sure the list is getting longer as I type:
Booman at The Booman Tribune: David Brooks is a Fraud
Digby's Hullabaloo: Breaking: David Brooks doesn't know what he's talking about
Greg Sargent's The Plum Line: The Morning Plum: Questions for the “blame it on both sides” crowd
Doug Galt at Balloon Juice: Velvet glove, pimp slap
And from Steve Benen at The Maddow Blog: 'But I've read Robert Rubin's tax plan...'
Somehow the PBS Newshour decided that all of the criticism Brooks has been getting wasn't important enough to bring up when asking him for his opinion on the sequester during his regular segment with Mark Shields this Friday. Imagine that. Obviously there's no punishment for bad behavior over at PBS. And just as he did during an interview on NPR that same day, Brooks doubled down on some of the lies he told in his column.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, the terrible word, sequester, it -- I don't know who chose the word, but a week from today, Mark, we are going to see the beginning, unless something changes between now and then, of automatic across-the-board federal spending cuts, $85 billion dollars worth.
Do you see anything happening between now and then to stop this from -- at least the clock from ticking?
MARK SHIELDS: No, I sure don't, Judy.
I mean, Grantland Rice, the great American sportswriter, said, when the great scorer comes to write beside your name, he writes not whether you won or lost, but how you played the game. This has been changed to, he writes not whether you won or lost, but who gets the blame. That is what we into now in Washington.
If this were really serious and a matter of national urgency and emergency, last weekend would not have been spent golfing in Florida and the Congress out of session. I mean, they would have been meeting. They would have been, you know, in serious negotiations.
And I think the Democrats are playing the fact that the president has a political advantage. He is seen as the more responsible of the two parties. The Republicans are very much on the defensive. But I don't see -- in answer to your question, I don't see a resolution or a solution.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Do you see anything, any movement to resolve ...
DAVID BROOKS: No. There were a couple of phone calls yesterday, but that's about it, just phone calls.
I certainly don't see any movement. As Mark said, the polls show the Democrats will probably profit. The Republicans still feel trapped, though. They feel they gave up a big tax increase a couple of weeks ago, and they can't give up another. And that's sort of the asking price.
And so they feel they have got to show they can cut spending. I personally think the likely loser in this is the Republicans. They're less popular. They're associated with cut -- with government -- controlling government spending. And they have basically got a problem. I think they need to show the American people that we like some government programs. We don't like others.
They need to be able to distinguish between the two. Unfortunately, when they embrace this, they are embracing a piece of legislation that makes no distinction between good government and bad government. It just cuts randomly across the board, and, worse, doesn't even cut the things that actually create the debt problem, which is the entitlement programs.
So, to me, this is both a substantive and political serious problem for Republicans.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, are you saying they're going to have to move off of their position right now, no revenue increases?
DAVID BROOKS: Listen, the Republicans have been doing this since 1995, since the government shutdown.
They make a big show. They tell themselves, we're going to control spending. They do something sort of ham-fisted. And it -- when the public reaction, then they cave in and they come with concessions. So it's not like we have not been here before. I just wish they had a little smarter strategy.
And if I could give them one piece of advice is, don't worry about discretionary spending. When you are talking about cutting government, domestic discretionary spending, which is stuff for the National Institutes of Health and TSA, that's small potatoes. They're always focused on that, which is sort of the sympathetic popular stuff. Focus on the entitlement programs. But they are off doing the wrong thing, in my view.
JUDY WOODRUFF: You going to disagree with him?
MARK SHIELDS: I have to disagree with David. That's in the contract.
MARK SHIELDS: No, I think the Republicans, you can see where they are. They are very much behind the political eight ball. And they are now saying -- they're reduced to saying, well, the cuts aren't going to be that serious. They're really -- the Democrats are exaggerating them.
And even though they have warned about these cuts were terrible on defense, now they're not going to be that serious, and now it was also the president's idea to begin with. I mean, that seems to be their fallback position.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But we're hearing today about the air traffic controllers.
MARK SHIELDS: Yes. No, that's Secretary LaHood who is out there.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Food inspections.
MARK SHIELDS: Yes. No, that has been the -- obviously, the administration's position, that this is going to be very serious and it's going to inconvenience people and it's going to inconvenience travelers.
And there is a potential threat to the economy; 800,000 jobs has been predicted as the loss by Congressional Budget Office. I mean, we're talking about serious implications and a downside. But I don't see, Judy -- I mean, I recall in 1990, when George H.W. Bush was president, and we went to Andrews Air Force Base for five weeks with the leadership of the Congress and the leadership of the White House and Dick Darman and John Sununu and -- who was chief of staff for President Bush -- and the president was involved and Bob Dole.
And ,you know, it was just really a major thing. I don't see anything approaching that sense of urgency, engagement or involvement at this -- at this point.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Why not?
MARK SHIELDS: Why not?
I think, in the Democrats, I think the president feels that he's got the upper hand, the advantage on it. I think that his position is stronger, it's more popular. He thinks it's more defensible, and most people would agree with him. And he's got the Republicans very much at -- if not at his mercy, then certainly at a disadvantage.
DAVID BROOKS: They both like it, secretly.
The Democrats, it's going to be probably a political win.
JUDY WOODRUFF: They want ...
DAVID BROOKS: I don't -- I think they're ...
DAVID BROOKS: And they know substantively it's a disaster.
Sequestration was designed to be stupid so it wouldn't happen. And it succeeds magnificently at being stupid. It is really stupid policy. And so -- but it's a political win for the Democrats, so that is sort of a silver lining. And for Republicans, they can show people who sort of think they're weak, hey, we're tough, we're cutting government.
And so, if you look at the conservative press, not all -- The Weekly Standard, some others have said this is a bad idea. But others have said you know, we're going to cut spending. Let's learn to love it.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, just a matter of time.
MARK SHIELDS: Well, and it was. It was intended as a nuclear option, I mean, that it was so irresponsible and so indefensible, that it would never come to pass.
And on the 1st of Mar., it will come to pass.