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Jonathan Chait Breaks The Beltway Iron Rule Of David Brooks

Mr. Jonathan Chait takes up this latest chapter of Mr. Brooks' decades-long flight from the withering gaze of factual reality.
Jonathan Chait Breaks The Beltway Iron Rule Of David Brooks

It turns out that Mr.. Brooks of the New York Times has once again extended his trial separation from veracity (or his polygamous arrangement with falsehood, depending on which end of the non-disclosure agreement you're sitting on). Mr. Jonathan Chait takes up this latest chapter of Mr. Brooks' decades-long flight from the withering gaze of factual reality:

David Brooks has a new reason to be disappointed in Obamacare. The problem is not so much that the new law has done bad things — he concedes that it has insured 20 million people — but that it was sold on a false basis. It is mostly helping poor people obtain insurance, he observes sadly, rather than overturning the entire system. “[T]his is not bad. But we’d have had a very different debate if we knew the law was going to be a discrete government effort to subsidize health care for more poor people,” writes Brooks in his column today. “For one thing, Democrats would have probably paid a much smaller political price if their effort wasn’t billed as an extravagant government grab to take over the nation’s health care system.” This is a great point. Why, exactly, did the Democrats decide to advertise their plan as an extravagant government grab to take over the nation’s health-care system? That turns out to have been a really poor choice!
Oh, wait a second. They didn’t. A close inspection of the public record actually reveals that it was the Republicans who described Obamacare as an extravagant government takeover...

Strike one...lying about who said what back when it mattered.

If you listened to David Brooks during the health-care debate...Brooks insisted over and over and over that Obamacare was spending too much on subsidies and doing too little to control costs. Democrats’ “passion for coverage has swamped their less visceral commitment to reducing debt. The result is a bill that is fundamentally imbalanced,” he wrote in 2010. The Democrats “stuffed the legislation with gimmicks and dodges designed to get a good score from the Congressional Budget Office but don’t genuinely control runaway spending.” (In reality, the “gimmicks” Brooks described were literal figments of the Republican imagination.)


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Strike two...uncritically deploying Republican fairy tales as fact in order to bolster an indefensible position.

Brooks always took pains to make it clear that he was not one of those Republicans who opposed universal insurance on principle. It was just the costs that concerned him. “Health care reform is important,” he wrote, “but it is not worth bankrupting the country over.” Today, Brooks complains that the program is not too lavish but too stingy: “The subsidies are too small. The premiums are too costly. The deductibles are too high,” he writes.

Strike three...shielding his by-now-laughable reputation as a "reasonable" Republican, by failing to disclose (and knowing that the apparently nonexistent New York Times editorial staff would never bother to check) that he had completely reversed his previously deeply-help opinion so he could go right on bitching about a program his fellow Acela-corridor Conseravatives never liked to begin with.

Mr. Chait concludes:

It’s almost as if Brooks decided to oppose health-care reform and then filled in the specifics of his argument later.

Yes, it does almost appear that way, doesn't it.

In fact, to veteran Brooksologists, this sounds remarkably like the little 180 degree walkabout Mr. Brooks' went on following George W. Bush's invasion of Iraq. In 2003, Mr. Brooks was gleefully touting Bush as the greatest geo-strategic military thinker since Sun Tsu and wasn't there going to be merry hell to pay for those stupid Liberals who had opposed his brilliant plan!

But by the time the wheels came completely off of the Bush Administration, the bloom was off the rose: Mr. Brooks would actually mention once in a very great while that some of the Bush administration's...um...underlings and...uh....middle manager weren't handling things they way they oughta, but really, wasn't it a shame how Both Sides had gotten things wrong?

Mr. Brooks and his many dozens of acolytes and imitators among the Beltway media know they only continue to prosper as long as they all collectively agree to never, ever bring up each other's long and damning records of deception, collusion and being horribly wrong over and over again,

This palpable but unspoken covenant of mutual protection among the Beltway's confederacy of deceivers is called Beltway Iron Rule Of David Brooks, and Mr. Chait just broke it. So get ready for professional oblivion, Johnny!

Crossposted at driftglass

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