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April 23, 2010

David Brooks Is The Political Equivalent Of Someone Who Invests In A Ponzi Scheme

David "I Love Perfectly Creased Pants" Brooks tries to explain why his Obama Bromance went so wrong. Not surprisingly, it's everyone else's fault.

Brooks begins by explaining that he views himself philosophically as some fusion of Burke and Hamilton, which to Brooks means being skeptical of government planning but okay with energetic and intrusive government sometimes. In a world full of extremists, Brooks says this places him squarely in the center of American political thought. How convenient for him.

Our valiant, yet lonely, defender of the middle Mr. Brooks thought he found a kindred spirit in the Hawaiian Messiah.

The center has been losing political power pretty much my entire career. But I confess that about 16 months ago I had some hope of a revival. The culture war, which had bitterly divided the country for decades, was winding down. The war war — the fight over Iraq and national security — was also waning.

The country had just elected a man who vowed to move past the old polarities, who valued discussion and who clearly had some sympathy with both the Burkean and Hamiltonian impulses. He staffed his administration with brilliant pragmatists whose views overlapped with mine, who differed only in that they have more faith in technocratic planning.

Of course they were wonderful. Did they not invite him to dinner with the soon to be President to be? Didn’t these top notch chaps consult with him on all sorts of important matters? Why of course they were a swell bunch.

Alas, like a jilted lover who only found out after a months long moon-eyed courtship that the object of his affections is a raving lunatic, Brooks is only now starting to see the truth. Let's be honest we've all been there, on both sides. We fall for someone and think they are perfect, yet all our friends try to warn us, tell us s/he is crazy. "No", we protest. "You just don't know her like I do!" Then when the first blush of infatuation and lust fades we realize, wow, she is crazy. This is where poor Brooksie finds himself now that he has to look at Obama as a policy maker and not just a smooth talking, nattily clad, mocha skinned Adonis. But like a devoted lover, Brooks tells us that it's not that Obama is really bad, no, he just, he just tries too hard for his and our own good.

What happened?

History happened. The administration came into power at a time of economic crisis. This led it, in the first bloom of self-confidence, to attempt many big projects all at once. Each of these projects may have been defensible in isolation, but in combination they created the impression of a federal onslaught.

One of the odd features of the Democratic Party is its inability to learn what politics is about. It’s not about winning arguments. It’s about deciding which arguments you are going to have. In the first year of the Obama administration, the Democrats, either wittingly or unwittingly, decided to put the big government-versus-small government debate at the center of American life.

Just as America was leaving the culture war and the war war, the Democrats thrust it back into the government war, only this time nastier and with higher stakes.

This war is like a social script. Once it was activated, everybody fell into their preassigned roles.

Here's the thing David, you, Kathleen Parker (who has a Pulitzer and you don't. Ouch!), Christopher Buckley, etc... are the only ones who are shocked to find out that Obama is really a big spending, government expanding, lefty.

Again, let me see if the romance analogy can help David.

I don't like clingy women. Not the guns and religion kind of clingy, "the call to check in 3 times a day and of course we have to do everything together at all times and your friends are my friends too!," kind. I once got involved with a woman who cried when I didn't return her non-emergency, what are you doing type call within 3 hours. This was not a good match. But she was hot so....

Still the signs were there.

Now for David the signs should have been there as well that Obama was not a believer in limited government intervention or someone who was skeptical of the power of government to organize society.

His whole promise (some might say, threat) to “remake America” might have been a clue. As for specifics, a few instances from the campaign trail come to mind...His support of "Spread the wealth around" economics, his proclaiming that he is a proponent of a single payer health care plan and his recognition that his energy policies would cause energy prices to 'skyrocket'.

I'm sorry David but the signs were there. Take the Creased Pants Goggles off and you'll see it.

Obama was not forced into this flurry of statist policy making, it's what he promised to do. "History" didn't happen, we elected a hard core left wing ideologue as President of the United States and he did all of this. Why? Because like the proverbial scorpion, it's his nature.

I get that you feel duped David. It's embarrassing. It's very human to want to foist off our poor decisions on changes in circumstances, factors beyond our control or just plain old bad luck. But like the people who believe that they were going to get unlimited returns by some super secret investment plan or that Nigerian guy really was a Prince who will pay millions for the loan of a few hundred dollars, it's important that you take responsibility for your mistake. It's the only way you can avoid making it again.

One last, and more serious point, Brooks concludes his piece...

This is a disappointing time. The Democrats have become the government party and the Republicans are the small government party. The stale, old debate is back with a fury. The war, as always, takes control.

This hearkens back to his initial description of himself as a practical moderate, smack dab in the middle of the American political spectrum.

Books is a living example of this George Carlin quip.

Have you ever noticed that anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac?

It's a conceit shared by a lot of narcissistic (not in the clinical sense) commentators. They are so enraptured by their own brilliance they think they are the lodestar of American political life. People like Brooks simply presume their personal list of likes and dislikes is a coherent philosophy everyone can objectively agree with.

When people (especially people who aren't members of the educated class) disagree, it's not because they have a personal philosophy and policy preferences that just happened to differ from Brooks'. No those people are trafficking in crass political fighting and if only they could be made to see the truth about these things (which coincidentally happens to be exactly what Brooks thinks), well then, all would be right with the world.

Sorry David but you are not the Alpha and Omega of wisdom. There are people out in the rest of the country who have an honest difference of opinion with you and your self proclaimed truths. We will argue and advocate for them. Sometimes it will be loud and there might even be a bad word mixed in. That's not a bug but rather a feature of the system. Deal with it.

But wait! There's more....

This may have gone a bit long and you may wonder why bother with Brooks. Here's the thing, I'm sick of self proclaimed experts whitewashing their errors in judgment away as if no one could have seen this coming and therefore don't hold them responsible, hold everyone to blame.

No. We, the great unwashed who don't always wear pants, let alone immaculately creased ones, knew it and said so. Don't tell me that a highly paid NY Times Op-ed guy is so much smarter than internet idiots when he was so obviously and provably WRONG on a rather major topic.

If you made it this far, thanks. Since you are obviously unemployed...good luck with the job hunt.

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posted by DrewM. at 11:50 AM

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