Future historians who want to get a good bead on what things were like during the inmates-running-the-asylum madhouse of American politics in the Year of our Lord 2017 could do worse than study Mr. David Brooks' column in The New York Times today in some detail.
For those future historians who are unfamiliar with his work (or think that, based on his work, he surely must have been some sort of bizarre, early 21st century parody/in-joke) I can assure you that Mr. David Brooks was a real human person. He was the distilled quintessence of Elite Myopic White Male Privilege, and for many decades he was paid ridiculous sums of money and granted virtually unconditional deference and respect by the American mainstream media in order to advance the Conservative Movement and the fortunes of the Republican Party.
It is no exaggeration to say that Mr. Brooks spent every hour of his professional career boosting Republicans and Conservatism, mocking Democrats and Liberals, and relentlessly positioning himself as America's Most Ubiquitous Conservative Public Intellectual. And yet, in 2017 during the Republican Party's Year of Jubilee -- the year when Mr. Brooks' Republican Party owned every branch of the federal government and Mr. Brooks' Conservative Movement had effectively conquered the media both through direct propaganda efforts (Fox News/Hate Radio/etc.) and by bludgeoning the "mainstream media" into a state of meek complicity -- Mr. Brooks announced that he was suddenly sick and tired writing about Conservatism or politics.
Getting Trump Out of My Brain
Last week The Washington Post published transcripts of Donald Trump’s conversations with foreign leaders. A dear friend sent me an email suggesting I read them because they reveal how Trump’s mind works. But as I tried to click the link a Bartleby-like voice in my head said, “I would prefer not to.” I tried to click again and the voice said: “No thanks. I’m full.”
For the past two years Trump has taken up an amazing amount of my brain space. My brain has apparently decided that it’s not interested in devoting more neurons to that guy. There’s nothing more to be learned about Trump’s mixture of ignorance, insecurity and narcissism. Every second spent on his bluster is more degrading than informative...
Oh no, Mr. Brooks. No, no, no.
To borrow from (forgive me) Ayn Rand for one minute:
You have destroyed all that which you held to be evil and achieved all that which you held to be good. Why, then, do you shrink in horror from the sight of the world around you? That world is not the product of your sins, it is the product and the image of your virtues.
As I have written on this tiny blog out here in the middle of Middle America countless times, President Stupid and the Party which bore him to power are not black swan events; they are the products of years and years of richly remunerated labor by people like you. They are your whelplings, Mr. Brooks. Your bastards.
So, future historians, how is it that Mr. Brooks has once again scammed The New York Times into paying him to slink away from yet another fiasco that he helped to create?
You see, although he is a real human person and although his job at The New York Times is to write about politics and culture, as a Conservative, during most of the 14 years he has been employed by the NYT (and during his previous stint as Managing Editor of The Weekly Standard) Mr. Brooks has rarely ever written about the actual politics and culture of the United States as they exist here-and-now. This is because during his many decades as a Conservative/Republican columnist, much of the politics of the United States has been a long, steep downhill plunge from disaster to disaster due almost entirely to the seditious barbarism of the Republican Party and the Conservative Movement.
Which means that, other than the brief "Jewels of Nuance" period during the Age of Bush when Mr. Brooks (and every other Conservative writer) felt it was finally safe to let their inner Sean Hannity completely out and use their public platforms to heap unalloyed contempt and slander on the Dirty Libtards, Mr. Brooks has spent most of his career assiduously avoiding any actual, honest reportage on the state of Conservative politics and culture.
Instead, Mr. Brooks has been in the business of delighting his employers and media colleagues by spinning elaborate fairy tales about how cool the GOP used to be, or how terrific the GOP was going to be in the very near future, or how awesome it would be if we had a third party because both the Republicans and the Democrats sucked so hard. It didn't really matter to his employers and colleagues in what order Mr. Brooks told his three basic lies, and it didn't really matter how quickly reality would overtake them and smash them to bits every single time. All that mattered was that, whatever five-alarm sh*tfire the Republican Party was dancing nekkid around today shrieking about Kenyan Death Panels and Emails and Benghaaazi...Mr. Brooks' could be counted on to deliver 800 words of tapioca explaining that, somehow, Both Sides were always to blame.
And that is the sum and substance of Mr. Brooks' breakup letter to the Dirty Business of Politics in The New York Times today. With one, little act of prestidigitation, Mr. Brooks transforms Donald Trump from the end-product of the degeneracy of the Republican Party --
For a time, we lived off the moral capital of the past. But the election of Trump shows just how desiccated the mainline code has become. A nation guided by that ethic would not have elected a guy who is a daily affront to it, a guy who nakedly loves money, who boasts, who objectifies women, who is incapable of hypocrisy because he acknowledges no standard of propriety other than that which he feels like doing at any given moment.
-- into a disaster which"we" as a "nation" all bear collective responsibility.
Well f**k that.
And with another wave of his magic wand, Mr. Brooks neatly divides Everyone Who Is Not David Brooks into three specious categories --
Donald Trump has smashed through the behavior standards that once governed public life. His election demonstrates that as the unifying glue of the mainline culture receded, the country divided into at least three blocks: white evangelical Protestantism that at least in its public face seems to care more about eros than caritas; secular progressivism that is spiritually formed by feminism, environmentalism and the quest for individual rights; and realist nationalism that gets its manners from reality TV and its spiritual succor from in-group/out-group solidarity.
-- none of which, Mr. Brooks asserts, has the moral gumption to clean up the mess that President Stupid will leave behind.
Well f**k that too.
Because Democrats nominated and elected this man twice --
-- which caused Mr. Brooks' Republican Party to lose what little was left of its mind.
Then the Democrats nominated this woman --
-- which caused Mr. Brooks' Republican Party to freak out so hard they gleefully threw themselves into the arms of an unhinged racist con man and sexual predator (and she still won the popular vote by three million.)
You see, future historians, it's not that there was no evil in our politics. There was. There was also depravity. And cravenness. And cowardice. And racism. And misogyny. And greed. It got very bad and it nearly broke us, because for many, many years, one side of the American political spectrum -- the Conservative side -- was allowed to get away with actively cultivating and rewarding paranoia and rage and racism and contempt for facts because it won them votes and it was good for ratings.
But of all of those who profited personally, politically and professionally from debasing our media and corroding our politics, the worst of them were those who knew better. Those like Mr. David Brooks, who made a whole career out of building a monster, and then frantically scuttled away and blamed everyone but themselves when the monster they made kicked the laboratory door off its hinges and then ran amok, nearly destroying the country.
And of this writing, the David Brooks' of our world are once again doing what they did after the Fall of Bush: washing their hands (and heads) of any responsibility for the ruin they helped to create --
One way or another I'm gonna wash that man [Trump] right outta what's left of my hair.
-- and running for the first class cabins on the Beltway media lifeboats.
All that remains to be seen is whether they will once again be allowed to get away with it...
crossposted from Driftglass