David Brooks:  Less Than Zero
Credit: Driftglass
October 1, 2016

These days, literally everything about life as a human in the world seems to pain Mr. David Brooks of the New York Times.

Well, maybe not the affections of young and stupefied admirers, but just about everything else on this planet of Earth keeps him in a constant state of low-grade simpering agony, as if he were perpetually trying to pass a kidney stone the size of Edmund Burke's snuff box.

Fortunately. as William Makepeace Thackeray once observed, "Despair is perfectly compatible with a good dinner, I promise you" and, as it happily turns out, affecting a pose of constant, snippy disappointment with every social and political institution in American is perfectly comparable with Mr. David Brooks' Great Project: amassing great big piles of wealth and influence by radically rewriting the history of American Conservatism to remove all the icky bits.  

Like, for example, today.

With his Great Project (of pretending that the last 40 years of Conservatism never happened) gravely endangered by the clear and self-evident fact that a blathering, racist fire-demon is now in charge of his Republican Party,  Mr. Brooks has had to temporarily set aside his pastoral duties as Pope Bias the First, Bishop of the Acela Corridor (aka, Vicar of Both Sides, Successor of the Prince of the Kristols, Supreme Pontiff of the Washington Beltway, Primate of Fake Centrism, Archbishop and Metropolitan of Humility, Sovereign of True Conservatism's City State and Servant of the servants of the Church of Lyin'tology) and get back to the serious, secular sludge-work of Both Sidering the shit out of this election,

And what is a more perfectly Brooksian way to do that than peevishly bitching about how horribly each candidate has failed to live up to what Mr. Brooks contends were the twin apexes of American Hopefulness in the 20th Century:  the 1960's of the dirty hippies remembered for Kennedy, NASA, Civil Rights and the Great Society, and the 1980's, an era of  Iran-Contra, Gordon Gekko, the Saving-and-Loan Debacle and Mr. Brooks having all his hair, getting laid for the first time on a regular basis and discovering a tribe of fellow, pecksniffing Young Conservative Fogies to call home.

And so, in Mr. Brooks' ongoing fairy tale of the imaginary past which never was, invariably the fault for all bad thing that have happened in the last 30 years must be equally divided between the 1960s and the 1980s:

The twin revolutions of the 1960s and the 1980s liberated the individual — first socially and then economically — and weakened the community. More surprising, this boomer-versus-boomer campaign has decimated idealism...

The dogma of Mr, Brooks' Both Siderism simply will not allow the real problem with this election to be what it obviously is -- the terrifying manifestation of the longstanding Republican media/electoral strategy of stocking the Party to the rafters with bigots an imbeciles and keeping those bigots and imbeciles whipped into a perpetual state mindless rage and paranoia.  The dogma of Mr, Brooks' Both Siderism simply cannot tolerate a version of history in which his Republican Party has suffered a complete, collective psychotic break with reality due to 30 years of relentless wingnut pandering and propaganda in which he so enthusiastically participated.

And so, in Mr. Brooks' radically whitewashed version of history, the only acceptable explanation for what has gone so drastically wrong with this election is that the Two Last Defenders of our Two Camelots -- the 1960s and the 1980s -- must have both equally let us all down.

So terribly, terribly down.

Obviously the myriad personality disorders of the GOP's blathering, racist fire-demon are on public display every day and around the clock, so Mr. Brooks doesn't have to break much trail to jot down a few highlights:

As we saw on Monday night, Trump now represents capitalism degraded to pure selfishness. He treats other people like objects and lies with abandon. Proud to be paying no taxes while others foot the bill, proud to have profited off the housing bust that caused so much suffering, he lacks even the barest conception of civic life and his responsibilities to it.

But in order to complete the ritual Both Siderist incantation, Mr. Brooks must invent a reason to indict Hillary Clinton as roughly equally unfit -- either a monster-in-disguise or a tragically failed, spent force. Which is a helluva lift given that she really has devoted her entire life to public service, especially on behalf of women and children.

Which is why ultimately Mr, Brooks had to go with the Admiral Motti gambit:  Don't try to impress us with your hippie ways, Madam Secretary. Your sad devotion to that ancient religion has not helped you conjure up the Grand Bargain of my dreams, or given you clairvoyance enough to appeal to Imaginary Independents.

From Mr. Brooks:

...Clinton can be a devastatingly good counterpuncher, but she lacks the human touch when talking about the nation’s problems, and fails to make an emotional connection.

When asked why she wants to be president or for any positive vision, she devolves into a list of programs. And it is never enough just to list three programs in an answer; she has to pile in an arid hodgepodge of eight or nine. This is pure interest-group liberalism — buying votes with federal money — not an inspiring image of the common good.

So with that, the ritual incantation can be completed:

There is no uplift in this race. There is an entire absence, in both campaigns, of any effort to appeal to the higher angels of our nature. There is an assumption, in both campaigns, that we are self-seeking creatures, rather than also loving, serving, hoping, dreaming, cooperating creatures. There is a presumption in both candidates that the lowest motivations are the most real.

And Mr. Brooks can disappear up his own ass in cloud of pseudo-intellectual, pseudo-metaphysical argle-bargle:

At some point there will have to be a new vocabulary and a restored anthropology, emphasizing love, friendship, faithfulness, solidarity and neighborliness that pushes people toward connection rather than distrust.

There is no more glib and successful fraud working the high end of the wingnut welfare scam that Mr. David Brooks of the New York Times.

And all it has cost him is his soul.

crossposted from Driftglass

Can you help us out?

For 18 years we have been exposing Washington lies and untangling media deceit, but now Facebook is drowning us in an ocean of right wing lies. Please give a one-time or recurring donation, or buy a year's subscription for an ad-free experience. Thank you.


We welcome relevant, respectful comments. Any comments that are sexist or in any other way deemed hateful by our staff will be deleted and constitute grounds for a ban from posting on the site. Please refer to our Terms of Service for information on our posting policy.