Archive for ‘David Brooks’

July 28, 2009

Every day, I check a blog called . .

. . . Memeorandum, which is not actually a blog, but an aggregation site. And when I logged on this morning, the item at the top right of the page was David Brooks’ latest column:

Every day, I check a blog called Marginal Revolution, which is famous for its erudite authors, Tyler Cowen and Alex Tabarrok, and its intelligent contributors. Last week, one of those contributors asked a question that is fantastical but thought-provoking: What would happen if a freak solar event sterilized the people on the half of the earth that happened to be facing the sun? . . .

You can read the rest, which only serves to highlight the “fantastical but thought-provoking” question that has haunted American journalism for years: “Why the hell is David Brooks getting paid to write a column?”

My pet theory is that Brooks has a cache of photos, acquired by nefarious and clandestine means, showing New York Times publisher Pinch Sulzberger in compromising situations with someone who is not Mrs. Sulzberger.

Casting no direct aspersions upon Tyler Cowen and the gang at Marginal Revolution — it’s certainly not their fault Brooks reads their blog — theirs is hardly the most “thought-provoking” hypothetical ever entertained on a blog:

Swear to God, if they ever want a Gentile prime minister, my first order . . .

Just a thought experiment, you see. Whatever follows such a fantastical “if” is no more to be taken seriously than that Marginal Revolution question was to be considered a hopeful wish that half the earth’s population would be sterilized.

Furthermore, if one is going to write a column on such a theme, the diffident, philosophical approach taken by Brooks is the least interesting way to go about it. No, by God, make it passionate and intensely personal:

When he was 16, Bill McCain told his mother, “You won’t ever have to worry about me again.” He left the family farm in rural Randolph County, Alabama, and moved 40 miles away to West Point, Georgia, where he went to work on the night shift in a cotton mill.
You’ve heard of people who worked their way through college? My father worked his way through high school. Most of his cotton-mill pay went for room and board and books — in those days, public-school students in Georgia had to buy their own textbooks — at the school where he became a football star. . . .

You can read the whole thing and, if you do, consider what was intended by the final sentence of that little essay. In an era when the newspaper industry is laying off newsroom personnel to the tune of a thousand people a month, David Brooks is paid a full-time salary by Sulzberger. In return for this salary — his compensation package is rumored to be in the neighborhood $300,000 annually — Brooks is required to produce only two 800-word columns per week.

Do the math, and this amounts to 104 columns per year, at nearly $3,000 per column, so that Brooks’ rate is somewhere around $3.50 a word — and yet he apparently cannot be bothered to do any actual reporting.

Byron York breaks news every time he files for the Washington Examiner, a tabloid that is distributed free on the streets of the nation’s capital. Yet that ungrateful wretch Brooks is indulged as he wastes 804 words — yes, I counted — doing philosophy, rather than journalism. To borrow a phrase from Hunter S. Thompson, it’s “enough to make a man wonder what newsprint is for.”

My grievance with Brooks is not merely because, as Sister Toldjah says, he’s a phony political chameleon. Politics aside, Brooks is a goddamned disgrace to the profession of journalism.

Last week, I filed 3,000 words about IG-Gate for the September print edition of The American Spectator (subscribe now) and readers can rest assured that Al Regnery isn’t paying $3.50 a word or whatever preposterous sum Sulzberger pays David Brooks for his predictable expeditions into newsprint wastage.

Frankly, if it weren’t for generous readers hitting the tip jar, I couldn’t afford the gas to drive back and forth to D.C. for my “shoe leather” trips to Capitol Hill, to say nothing of such other necessary expenses as cigarettes, coffee and $1.29 chili cheese dogs. (Legitimate tax-deductible expenses, I hasten to add. The IRS may not understand the vital role that chili cheese dogs play in investigative journalism, but I’ve got witnesses. And receipts.)

Meanwhile, with the filthy lucre he receives from the Sulzberger empire, Brooks can actually afford to live a $12 cab fare away from the Capitol. Yet the only time Brooks can be bothered to do anything remotely resembling reporting is when he’s sucking up to Obama administration hacks at those Atlantic Monthly salmon-and-risotto soirees.

Last week, SIGTARP Neil Barofsky raised hell in a House Oversight Committe hearing, but I suppose that Brooks was too busy pondering existential philosophy to bother grabbing a notebook and hailing a cab over to the Hill.

Me? My e-mail inbox is overflowing and my wife cleaned my desk so that I lost the paper on which I’d printed out Gerald Walpin’s phone number. Therefore, in between everything else I had to do yesterday, I spent a couple hours plowing through my e-mail until I finally retreived that number.

Brooks isn’t merely wasting his time, he’s wasting mine, and I’ve got important work to do. Why expend more than 700 words on him today? Everything that needs to be said about that disgusting stain on the soul of American journalism was summed up three months ago by an award-winning blogger:

Fuck you, David Brooks.

Please hit the tip jar. I’m planning another trip to DC tomorrow, and I’ll need more chili cheese dogs.

July 10, 2009

He Who Hath Learned Nothing

Not content to have given us a splendid specimen on vicious nonsense on Tuesday, David Brooks returns today with a column ostensibly about how to end inflation in health care. Brooks being Brooks, radical libertarian ideas — abolishing Medicare and Medicaid, letting the geezers fend for themselves and letting the poor rely on charity — are not even considered, much less advocated.

Brooks is too serious, too responsible — the columnist as policy adviser, a journalistic courtier — ever to think radically. His discussion of health care is therefore a critique of proposed legislation, limited by conceptions of the politically feasible. And then there is this:

To get our overall fiscal house in order, we’re going to need to raise taxes on the rich. . . . We’re going to have to tax people in the middle class more.

Note the three first-person plurals (“our . . . we’re . . . we’re”) that evoke the old punchline about Tonto and the Lone Ranger: “What do you mean, ‘we,’ Kemosabe?” Brooks rhetorically includes himself in the policy-making circle, inviting his readers to do the same, and presents his tax-increase proposals as imperatives: We need to do this, we have to do that.

Unstated in this “we” stuff is the inevitable “them”: The taxpayers, who are not to be consulted about the imperative need for them to cough up more of their earnings to finance the business of “get[ting] our fiscal house in order.”

Jennifer Rubin takes her shots at Brooks today, addressing the specifics of his column in terms of the overall prospects for passage of a health-care bill. I would argue, however, that the specifics of Brooksian discourse are merely symptoms of the disease, namely the conception of the columnist as a participant in governance, who views the governing class as “we,” and the citizenry as “them.”

The fact that the governing class is now composed of liberal Democrats is irrelevant to this basic problem of Brooksism. His political philosophy is neither liberalism nor conservatism, but rather elitism — the belief that ordinary citizens are untrustworthy, incapable of self-government, unfit even to decide what to do with their own money.

It’s your money, and Brooks seems to forget that. I don’t. You are free to do as you wish with your own money. If you choose to give to the David Brooks Fisking Fund, I will therefore be grateful. The elite, who think themselves fit to decide what to do with your money, know nothing of gratitude.

July 7, 2009

David Brooks is a predictable swine

When he begins with a long paean to the Founding Fathers — in this case, George Washington — you can bet money that the Republican Iago is about to plunge his dagger deep into someone’s back:

First, there was Mark Sanford’s press conference. Here was a guy utterly lacking in any sense of reticence, who was given to rambling self-exposure even in his moment of disgrace. Then there was the death of Michael Jackson and the discussion of his life. Here was a guy who was apparently untouched by any pressure to live according to the rules and restraints of adulthood. Then there was Sarah Palin’s press conference. Here was a woman who aspires to a high public role but is unfamiliar with the traits of equipoise and constancy, which are the sources of authority and trust.

Right. A logical grouping:

  • The man who makes a spectacle of himself pursuing an Argentine floozy;
  • The man who makes a spectacle of himself pursuing pubescent boys and trying to look like a freakish parody of Liza Minelli; and
  • Sarah Palin.

Am I the only one who thinks the third item in this list is misplaced? Am I the only one who believes that the entire purpose of this 804-word column was to deliver that one cheap shot at Sarah Palin? Is there anyone on the planet who respects David Brooks or desires his approbation?

UPDATE: Linked by Obi’s Sister, Daley Gator, Paco Enterprises and Memeorandum. Meanwhile, HuffPo’s Adam Hanft analyzes the Brooksian method.

It’s a familiar technique. If you go back to his classic 1997 betrayal of the conservative cause — “A Return to National Greatness” — you find Brooks begins by describing the century-old magnificence of the Library of Congress building. He contrasts a bygone time when “there was enthusiasm for grand American projects” with the limited-government agenda of the GOP majority which then controlled Congress, and finds the latter sorely wanting:

At a moment of world supremacy unlike any other, Americans are not asking big questions about their civilization, nor are they being asked anything but the sorts of things pollsters and marketers want to know. And so our politics has become degrading and boring. Political conflict appears trivial, vicious for no good reason.

So the splendor of the Gilded Age, symbolized by the elaborate architecture of the Library of Congress, is made a contrast to the “trivial” nature of contemporary politics, and the eloquence of Brooksian prose is such that the argument might easily persuade a reader who knows nothing of history.

To start with, if you walk three blocks north from the Library of Congress, you can find another impressive architectural specimen, Union Station, completed about a decade later. It took only a year to build it, too. What’s up with that? You couldn’t build a replica of Union Station today if you had a trillion dollars, and you sure as hell couldn’t build it in a year.

Skilled labor was cheap. It’s really that simple. This is the great lesson to be learned by the grandeur of the monuments of the past. Go to Berry College in Georgia and examine the Gothic glories of the Ford Buildings (example photo). With a philanthropic donation from Henry Ford, Berry brought in Italian stone masons to do the work. And they worked cheap.

A 55-hour week — 10 hours a day Monday through Friday, and half a day on Saturday — was common for laborers a century ago. (Benefits? Whoever heard of such a thing?) And the laborer who earned $2 for his 10-hour day was actually doing better than many small farmers of the era, who toiled from dawn to dusk merely to earn their family’s subsistence.

When what we would today consider poverty (at least as measured by annual cash income) was the plight of a majority of the people, and when there was no welfare state to provide for the idle, it was possible to build grand monuments like the Library of Congress, Union Station or the Ford Buildings. Today, mechanization and mass-produced materials — steel, glass, concrete — allow us to erect giant skyscrapers, but the awe-inspiring handcrafted touches of those older buildings can’t be had for any feasible sum, basically because of changes in economic conditions.

This historical background is omitted entirely from Brooks’ celebration of the Beaux Arts splendor of the Library of Congress building in “A Return to National Greatness,” just as he stripped George Washington from historical context for his column on “dignity.” (One wonders how Washington would have dealt with the FOIA frenzy of Palin’s enemies.)

Brooks’ walk-off yesterday was a classic:

But it’s not right to end on a note of cultural pessimism because there is the fact of President Obama. Whatever policy differences people may have with him, we can all agree that he exemplifies reticence, dispassion and the other traits associated with dignity. The cultural effects of his presidency are not yet clear, but they may surpass his policy impact. He may revitalize the concept of dignity for a new generation and embody a new set of rules for self-mastery.

What is the sum of the “reticence” and “dispassion” that Brooks praises? Mainly, there is Obama’s deep baritone voice. If the politics thing hadn’t worked out, Obama could have had a successful career as an announcer for an FM “smooth jazz” station. As it is, however, he is blessed with a fawning press corps whose members seem to conceive themselves as employees of the marketing department of Obama Inc.

Easy to strike the presidential pose of reticence under such circumstances, but as is his habit, Brooks omits the context necessary to understanding the phenomenon he celebrates. Brooks wishes to appropriate for himself the “dignity” he praises, but in fact his impulse is childish: “Look, something wonderful!

Let mature students of statesmanship reserve judgment. We’ll see how Obama’s “dignity” holds up when unemployment hits 14 percent.

June 11, 2009

‘ReserCons’: Reservation Conservatives

Longtime blog buddy Craig Henry at Lead and Gold uses the term “resercon” for “reservation conservative.” This is evidently a play on the term “reservation Indian,” denoting the harmless, domesticated breed (e.g., David Brooks) as opposed to us buck-wild conservatives who are prone to guzzling constitutional firewater and taking some liberal scalps.

Back in March, when David Frum attacked Rush Limbaugh, Henry quoted Daniel Flynn:

When liberals adopt you as their token conservative, kiss your credibility among conservatives goodbye and say hello to writing gigs at the Atlantic, appearances on Keith Olbermann’s program, and lectures at the Kennedy School of Government.

And Henry added:

Liberals love those kind of “conservatives.” It lets them define both the liberal and conservative position on an issue.

This is exactly right. Such is the dominance of liberals in the MSM, they can exercise influence over who is, and is not, a “respectable” spokesman for conservatism. Thus, liberals are able to control the terms of debate to their advantage.

Referencing Michelle Malkin’s criticism of California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, yesterday Henry applied the “reservation conservative” concept to the man who was once every liberal’s favorite RINO:

California’s budget mess casts an interesting light on the debate over the GOP. Ah-nuld was the epitome of the resercon ideal: a fiscal conservative and a social liberal. Yet, once in office, he was not eager to battle for smaller government, less spending, or less regulation.
That seems to be true of many FC/SL Republicans. They are happy to bash the Religious Right or NRA; they bask in the MSM praise for their courage. In the end they never fight that hard for conservative economic ideas.

You should read the rest. Henry is dead on target in observing that Republican officials who claim to be fiscal conservatives but liberal (or “libertarian”) on social issues usually end up supporting a big-government agenda in economic terms. This was definitely true of Bush 41, and although Bush 43 cut taxes, his “compassionate” agenda included No Child Left Behind and Medicare prescription drugs, both of which were anathema to limited-government conservatives.

Republican strategists who are trying to figure out how the GOP can recover its mojo need to think hard about this problem. The GOP’s brand is damaged by these “reservation conservative” types — whether elected officials like Schwarzenegger or pundits like David Brooks — who function as Republican echoes for liberal criticism of the core conservative message.

Some of my friends mistake my frequent criticism of “centrists” like Brooks et al. as a call to “purge the RINOs.” I don’t go in for that urge-to-purge stuff, and understand that ideological purity tests are a losing approach to pragmatic coalition politics.

The problem, rather, is when “centrists” (a word whose meaning is sufficiently nebulous as to require the scare-quotes) criticize conservatives in terms that undermine morale on the Right by suggesting that conservatism is not a viable alternative to liberalism.

This was what made Brooks’ “National Greatness” so odious. Brooks took dead aim at the essence of Reaganism — a limited-government domestic agenda, hostility to bureaucratic centralization, Grover Norquist’s “Leave Us Alone Coalition” — and suggested that it was both unpopular and unworkable. What Americans wanted, Brooks argued, was a federal government devoted to grand projects of inspirational uplift. To which I would reply, in the famous words of Rahm Emanuel . . .

Conservatives must regain confidence in the basics of Reaganism, and recover the belief that the core principles of our nation’s founding — individual liberty, individual responsibility and organic local government free from the stifling bureaucratic interventions of centralized authority — are legitimate and honorable, appealing to all Americans of all conditions.

This matter of confidence — conservative morale — is what the Not One Red Cent project is about. Grassroots conservatives don’t need self-anointed “leaders” in Washington to pick candidates in GOP primaries. And the “reservation conservatives” don’t speak for us.

June 9, 2009

David Brooks shovels Democratictalking points on Sotomayor

Just what we needed, a “conservative” columnist pushing Democratic Party agitprop for a woman he admits is a “poster child for identity politics”:

More than any current member of the Supreme Court, she worked her way up through the furnace levels of the American legal system. . . .
She is quite liberal. But there’s little evidence that she is motivated by racialist thinking or an activist attitude.

As I said, I’m not apoplectic about her Jet-All-The-Way “wise Latina” shtick, but the fact that Brooks is pro-Sotomayor should be all the reason anyone needs to be anti-Sotomayor.

A basic life principle: Always do the opposite of whatever David Brooks says, and you can’t go too far wrong.

Via Memeorandum, more at Michelle Malkin and Legal Insurrection. And please hit the tip jar, either for the “David Brooks Fisking Fund,” the “Emergency Fireworks Fund” or to help NTC “bloggregate” the news.

It’s For the Children!

May 4, 2009

Attention Boston Globe employees

The New York Times Co. is planning to close your newspaper and put you out of work. However, David Brooks still earns $300,000 a year as a columnist for the Times. And they’ve just hired Harvard-educated boy genius Ross Douthat, too.

Just thought that news might cheer you up.

April 29, 2009

Caption Contest

Via Politico, where Michael Calderone has the background on this photo of New York Times columnist David Brooks and Obama political strategist David Axelrod:

Note to contestants: Entries suggesting extreme acts of violence or unnatural uses for Brooks’ “Columnist of the Year Award” will be disqualified. I can think up enough of those without your help.

April 28, 2009

It’s David Brooks Fisking Day!

“Educated elites have taken over much of the power that used to accrue to sedate old WASPs with dominating chins. . . . The educated elites have even taken over professions that used to be working class. The days of the hard-drinking, blue-collar journalist, for example, are gone forever. Now if you cast your eye down a row at a Washington press conference, it’s: Yale, Yale, Stanford, Emory, Yale, and Harvard.”
David Brooks, Bobos in Paradise (2000)

On behalf of my fellow alumni of Jacksonville (Ala.) State University: Fuck you, David Brooks.

Things have been so busy lately — Jessica Valenti, Amanda Marcotte, Arlen Specter — that I’ve scarcely had time even to celebrate my 20th wedding anniversary. And so you probably hoped I’d forget our regular rendevous, didn’t you?

No such luck, you arrogant son of a bitch. People pay good money to watch me smack you around every Tuesday, providing a fee-for-service incentive that delightfully enhances my enjoyment. There’s no escaping this weekly engagement, so long as the New York Times can afford to continue paying you $300,000 a year to write your columns — and who knows how much longer that will be?

Shall I flay your latest column about Mexican swine flu? It hardly deserves the effort — a Seinfeldian column “about nothing.” Health officials battling the pandemic aren’t reading the op-ed pages of the Times in search of advice, and what manner of advice would they get from you, anyway? Name-checking a Princeton professor and referencing the World Health Organization (predictably brown-nosing the elite) en route to a buzzword-clogged whiffle-ball conclusion:

The correct response to these dynamic, decentralized, emergent problems is to create dynamic, decentralized, emergent authorities: chains of local officials, state agencies, national governments and international bodies that are as flexible as the problem itself.
Swine flu isn’t only a health emergency. It’s a test for how we’re going to organize the 21st century. Subsidiarity works best.

If David Brooks is paid $300K/yr. for 2 columns/wk. (104 columns/yr.), simple math tells us that each column earns him $2,884.62. Since this latest outing is 799 words, this means Brooks earned $3.61 each for his first use of “dynamic” (ka-ching!), “decentralized” (ka-ching!), “emergent” (ka-ching!), then cleverly doubled his $10.83 to $21.66 by immediately repeating the same three buzzwords — ka-ching! ka-ching! ka-ching!

My, how the money rolls in. And as to what Their Mister Brooks has added to the reader’s understanding of the Mexican swine flu threat — hey, next time, David, why don’t you rack up a few bucks by quoting some Dire Straits lyrics about “money for nothing”?

It’s the lack of value, you see, that makes you so useless. Suppose, purely as a hypothetical exercise, that I could be persuaded to accept the Walter Duranty-tainted Sulzberger cash and consent to have my byline appear in the credibility-impaired New York Times. Suppose, further, that I accepted this unfathomable $3.61-per-word rate for mere op-ed opining, but under the special condition that I write no more words than the topic deserved. What might that column look like?

How to Avoid Mexican Swine Flu
By Robert Stacy McCain

1. Avoid swine.
2. Avoid Mexicans.
3. Otherwise, take two aspirin and call me in the morning.

My count: 14 words, not including the title, byline or numerals. So that’s a $50.54 paycheck for a “top Hayekian public intellectual.” You see, perhaps, why Old Media dinosaurs like yourself are an endangered species, David.

However, exposing the overblown emptiness of your latest column is such a simple task as to be unworthy of my attention on this, the 20th anniversary of my wedding. No, by God, when Jax State sends forth a man into this world, he is expected to acquit himself manfully. Therefore, I’ll direct my readers to the work of a real journalist, Howard Kurtz:

Last Tuesday evening, Rahm Emanuel quietly slipped into an eighth-floor office at the Watergate.
As white-jacketed waiters poured red and white wine and served a three-course salmon and risotto dinner, the White House chief of staff spent two hours chatting with some of Washington’s top journalists — excusing himself to take a call from President Obama and another from Hillary Clinton. . . .
For more than a year, David Bradley, the Atlantic’s soft-spoken owner, has hosted these off-the-record dinners at a specially built table in his glass-enclosed office overlooking the Potomac. . . .
Among those in regular attendance are David Brooks and Maureen Dowd of the New York Times, Gene Robinson and Ruth Marcus of The Washington Post, NBC’s David Gregory, ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, PBS’s Gwen Ifill, the New Yorker’s Jane Mayer, Vanity Fair’s Todd Purdum, former Time managing editor Walter Isaacson and staffers from Bradley’s Atlantic and National Journal, including Ron Brownstein, Andrew Sullivan and Jonathan Rauch.

Well, well, well! We see now why dear Dave has such upscale notions about what’s to be seen when you “cast your eye down a row at a Washington press conference.” Dare say you’re nearly the low man on the totem pole at those clubby little elite get-togethers at the Watergate, eh? David Gregory and George Stephanopoulos are both multimillionaires, just for starters.

When a fellow starts hanging around with all those bigwigs, chowing down on salmon and risotto, it’s easy to see how he could imagine himself a Platonic archon, solving the world’s problems one $3.61 word at a time.

Oh, don’t think I begrudge you the risotto, Dave — as a strictly neutral, objective journalist, I’m mighty fond of a free meal myself. The second-rarest sentence in the English language is, “Gee, Stacy, thanks for picking up the tab.” (The rarest sentence is, “Gee, Stacy, why don’t you tell us what you really think?”)

When I went down to Alabama for Tax Day Tea Party a couple weeks ago, I had a free dinner at the Five Points Grill, ate free barbecue the next day at Jim ‘n Nick’s, and then a free dinner with Tito Perdue and his wife at Dusty’s Diner. Then I swung on over to Georgia and stopped by the Village Church in Hapeville for more barbecue before heading to the state Libertarian Party convention, but what happens in Norcross stays in Norcross, as they say. One thing I can guarantee you: I didn’t pay a dime.

Now, if we count the fine breakfast Stephen Gordon‘s mother fixed me whilst I was in Hartselle, that’s at least six free meals in four days. So I’ve got you beat all to hell in that department, Mr. Brooks — even if I had to drive 1,700 miles and sleep in my car to earn it.

I didn’t notice any white-jacketed waiters offering to pour wine for me, but then again I don’t reckon The Atlantic Monthly gives a damn about folks in Alabama and Georgia. So you just report whatever Rahm Emanuel tells you to report, David Brooks, since that’s all anybody who really matters cares to read about.

Just one question, Mr. Brooks: When you were chowing down with Rahm at the Watergate, did you happen to notice if any of those white-jacketed waiters were Mexican?

Take two aspirin and call me in the morning, Dave.

And the rest of you: Hit the freaking tip jar! This lunatic gibberish may not be worth $3.61 a word, but man cannot live by free food alone.

April 22, 2009

It’s David Brooks Fisking Day!

A commenter earlier chided me for having neglected our weekly ritual of abusing David Brooks, who today deserves as good a punk-smacking as ever:

America once had a responsible economic culture, Obama argued. People used to save their pennies to buy their dream houses. Banks used to lend by “traditional standards.” Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac used to stick to their “traditional mandate.” Companies like A.I.G. used to limit themselves to the “traditional insurance business.”
But these traditions broke down, Obama continued. They were swamped by irresponsibility. Businesspeople chased “short-term profits” over long-term investments. . . . Americans consumed too much and saved too little. America became corrupted by “excessive debt,” “reckless speculation” and “fleeting profits.”
Obama vowed to end this irresponsibility and the cycle of boom and bust. It’s time to get back to basics, he said. He embraced tradition, order and authority. He quoted the New Testament and argued that it is time that the U.S. built its economic house on rock and not sand.
If Republicans aren’t nervous, they should be. Obama is arguing for his activist agenda not on the basis of class-consciousness, which is alien to America, but as a defense of middle-class morality, which is central to it. Obama is positioning the Democrats as the party of order, responsibility and small-town values. If he pulls this mantle away from the Republicans, it would be the greatest train robbery in American politics.

It’s your fault, David Brooks. You aren’t part of the solution. You aren’t even part of the problem. You are the problem.

Let’s go back to 1997, Mr. Brooks. The Republicans in Congress had fought Clinton to a stalemate over basic economic issues. Clinton had been forced to declare that “the era of big government is over” and — after vetoing it twice — had finally signed welfare reform into law.

And what was your response to these hard-fought conservative victories? “National Greatness,” an unprincipled and dishonest embrace of the same big-government agenda that the GOP had spent so much political capital opposing.

Now that the GOP and the nation have reaped the bitter fruit of your big-government Republican agenda, with characteristic dishonesty you attempt to evade responsibility for the disastrous consequences of the betrayals of conservative principle you enthusiastically advocated for more than a decade.

You are a gutless crapweasel, David Brooks, and the only people you deceive nowadays are those few so ignorant of your long career of mendacity that they don’t burst into laughter at your latest prevarication. You are the living examplification of a treacherous bastard, inspiring contempt in the hearts of all honorable and decent people.
You are a colossal monument to what can be achieved in American by someone who believes in nothing except his own self-advancement. For centuries and millennia to come, generations of backstabbing swine will revere you as their idol.
April 7, 2009

It’s David Brooks Fisking Day!

Having failed to say anything useful about politics, now he fails at saying anything useful about morality:

Today, many psychologists, cognitive scientists and even philosophers embrace a different view of morality. In this view, moral thinking is more like aesthetics. . . .
Most of us make snap moral judgments about what feels fair or not, or what feels good or not. We start doing this when we are babies, before we have language. And even as adults, we often can’t explain to ourselves why something feels wrong. . . .
What shapes moral emotions in the first place? The answer has long been evolution, but in recent years there’s an increasing appreciation that evolution isn’t just about competition. It’s also about cooperation within groups. Like bees, humans have long lived or died based on their ability to divide labor, help each other and stand together in the face of common threats. Many of our moral emotions and intuitions reflect that history.

This isn’t a newspaper column. It’s an English-comp theme that any bright college psych major could have written. There is no attempt at reporting, no effort at timeliness or relevance.

One gets the mental image of Brooks reclining on a divan, reading an article in Psychology Today and saying, “Oh, I’ll write about that.” And — voila! — second-hand expertise.

As always, Brooks approaches his subject with the general idea, “What do the ‘experts’ say? What is the prestigious, fashionable, high-status thing to say about this?” He is merely a mirror of the attitudinal dispositions of the elite, a sort of living sociological treatise on the current mood of our decadent intelligentsia.

More comment at Memeorandum.